It’s Time for Digital Transformation in B2B Sales
First, modernize sales processes to connect and automate
Today’s sales organizations see a lot of opportunity to benefit from new technology. In this 2020 Business-to-Business Sales Trends Report, nearly 900 B2B sales leaders responded to a survey that examined the specific tools and technology they use to improve their selling processes. The results highlight a distinction between process improvements and harnessing more robust customer data.
Restructure personnel vs Rework processes
Selling teams in the survey are responding to the changing sales landscape by primarily investing in technology (74%) and updating their sales processes (67%). It’s important to note that the majority of teams don’t see a need to restructure, choosing instead to keep their personnel structure in place and modernize the way they sell.
We know that leading sales teams are making technology upgrades, and it's helpful to pinpoint the specific solutions those teams are implementing. To explore this topic further, respondents identified the tools that are a part of their current stack and those that they anticipate will play a critical role in five years.
What’s clear is that sales teams intend to increase their effectiveness by using data about customers to improve experience and sell more effectively. However, when that broad strategy is broken down to more tactical decisions, there is no new technology that is singled out as a sales must-have for the future.
Perhaps because sales teams expect the technology mix they use to remain fairly static, respondents don’t anticipate many improvements in the sales process due to technology in five years. It is odd though that sales teams would place such importance on tech investment if they don’t expect or understand what the benefit will be.
Diagnosing the problem
While sales teams are investing in technology, individuals aren’t clear about how that technology will help them achieve their goals. It’s possible that these teams see the broad benefit but can’t pinpoint specifics, or they may be looking too far ahead and building for the future without a clear plan for managing challenges today.
And there are certainly challenges with technology today. The biggest obstacles to maximizing current technology, according to respondents, are that software is too slow and data is not current. Remote sales teams might also be using tools and processes that aren’t flexible enough to handle remote workers. B2B sales teams everywhere see a need for sales tools that connect to other systems, automate tasks and provide an easy-to-use experience for sellers.
Broader digital transformation has its own set of complications. Sales leaders identified three factors standing in the way of digitizing the sales process:
- Technical difficulty
- Finding the right opportunities to digitize
- Legal and compliance risk
Clarity on challenges with technology and transformation today can help make future investments more successful.
The need for digital transformation
Committing the entire sales function to a digital transformation would solve a range of technology problems identified in the survey, and likely address the benefits expected. However, the desire to embark on that digital transformation, say respondents, is a low priority both today and five years into the future.
Across both time periods, sales teams are prioritizing the same three areas
- Lead quality
- Prospect response rate
- Data about prospects
These improvements on their own are incredibly important, but are the ends, not the means. Without a digital transformation to enable a major shift in workflow and time allocation, these priorities are difficult to achieve. Better lead quality and response rates are actually the end result of a transformation rather than simply an outcome that improves with additional focus.
With new tools and new processes, sales improvements are certainly on the way. However, it’s critical to make the right moves in the correct order. B2B sales teams want all the benefits of the digital transformation, but they’ve acted out of order in failing to strategically build out the infrastructure to achieve those improvements.
B2B Sales in 2020: Strategies for Success will help your sales team excel with modern sales processes.