In its October 2016 State of the Connected Customer Report, Salesforce Research revealed that a whopping 80 percent of business buyers expect companies to respond and interact with them in real time, versus the 64 percent of consumers with the same expectation. It’s clear we’ve reached a tipping point in B2B sales, as business buyers seek both a highly-personalized experience from—and real-time access to—the companies they transact with, even more so than consumers do.
The challenge today is to adapt our selling behaviors to this changing buyer mindset. And to make that happen at scale, we must also adapt our technology stacks.
In today’s digital economy, the technology that powers your B2B virtual sales organization should serve to replicate the consumer buying experience, making all touches and sales motions seamless, engaging and value-oriented. This requires three key components: collaborative technologies that enable buyer interactions (conferencing, chat, social, etc.), predictive analytics designed to help you best understand and anticipate the buyer’s needs, and integration across the data and systems that fuel personalized content marketing, digital commerce and sales enablement.
Get Current with Collaboration Tools
Collaboration tools have become a necessity in our industry for extending sales reach. But collaboration isn’t what it used to be: it now comes in many digital shapes and forms, allowing us to more effectively assist and influence buyers at various points in their journey. While each of our partners has differing business models and sales requirements, here are some key collaboration tools to consider:
- Conferencing tools to deliver live product demos at the time and location of the buyer’s choosing.
- Live chat tools that allow virtual agents to interact seamlessly with prospects and customers and provide highly personalized service and support.
- Active participation in social networks to showcase your expertise to customers. Partners should use these channels to help define buying requirements, demonstrate thought leadership and gain valuable insights into buyers’ habits and preferences.
- Digital engagement tools such as automated SMS and email push notifications or mobile/location-based apps that can be used to deliver targeted and timely messages to prospects and customers.
The Big Partner Opportunity: Predictive Tools
Two equally important goals of the virtual sales organization are to anticipate the needs of buyers and build relationships based on value delivery. While collaboration technologies can enable personal one-to-one interactions, the ability to integrate these conversations with predictive analytics helps facilitate a purchasing experience that feels more personal and organic to your buyers. In addition, cohesion across technologies allows your sales team to tie every touch — be it a personalized email offer, social media interaction, or product suggestion/landing page — to a direct business outcome.
As much as we tout predictive intelligence and how it can create more dynamic customer journeys, Salesforce Research reports that only 30% of sales teams today currently use it. This poses a significant opportunity for our partners to move ahead of the competition. By taking advantage of Cisco’s analytics-driven partner programs and platforms, such as Lifecycle Advantage, you can get in on the power of predictive intelligence to drive more upsells, cross-sells and renewals, along with stronger customer relationships.
Regardless of the sales tools you have in play, there’s no doubt that the way your buyers are engaging with you is rapidly changing. Now is the time to put in place the people, processes and technologies that will allow you to deliver the seamless experiences that today’s buyers demand. Your reward will be improved sales, faster growth and increased customer retention. It is our commitment to empower you in every way possible to ensure your success.
Watch the on-demand webinar, The Inside Scoop on Inside Sales to learn more about the evolution of virtual sales.