COVID-19 has impacted several areas of our lives, including our professions. With mandated lockdowns last spring, most salespeople moved to remote selling. As the restrictions eased, some headed back to offices, while others continued working from home. This shift begs the question — what will the future of B2B sales look like? Will it return to the pre-COVID days of in-person meetings and traveling? Will B2B sales shift to being conducted almost entirely via tech? Or will we land somewhere between the two extremes?
Last year, McKinsey conducted an analysis to determine the effect of COVID-19 on B2B sales and try to predict what’s in store for the future. They found that currently, 70-80% of B2B decision makers prefer remote interactions or digital self-service. This makes a lot of sense given the current climate, where people are traveling much less and are more safety conscious. Since COVID-19 broke out McKinsey is reporting a 41% increase in video conferencing with sales reps, and a 52% decrease in in-person meetings.
Of course, there are both advantages and disadvantages to remote sales. Without travel, the cost to the sales organization is much lower, and the time usually spent traveling can be repurposed for something else. Companies may also experience less push back from prospects since the time commitment will be less for them, too. That lack of pushback may make it more difficult for salespeople to effectively gauge the interest of a prospect, though. And it can be difficult to deliver demonstrations for certain products virtually. There are also technical snafus, distractions, and a loss of in-person rapport to worry about. These are just a few of the challenges weighing on the minds of leaders and decision makers as they try to determine how to prepare for the future of B2B selling.
According to the McKinsey report, in August of 2020, 89% of the responding B2B companies expected to continue the remote selling process for the next 12+ months. So it looks like the current trend may be sticking around for a while.
What are your thoughts about the post COVID-19 selling world? Has your company announced their strategy for the next 12 – 18 months? Have you already started selling (masked) face-to-face again? Let me know in the comments.
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