B2B buyers aren’t short of ideas concerning what they’d like vendors to do differently. Not only do they want vendors to personalize their buying experience and respond quickly to their needs, but they also want to be listened to and to have their problems solved. With COVID-19, some of these needs have been exacerbated. Here are some of these expectations, per a new report [download page] from the RAIN Group.
COVID-19 has forced many B2B companies to change the way they do business. For many, this change has involved shifting towards conducting more business online. Prior to the pandemic, the RAIN Group found that fewer than 3 in 10 (27%) B2B sellers were conducting the majority of their sales activities virtually. As of the time of the latest survey in May 2020, 7 in 10 (71%) reported that they are now doing at least half of their sales virtually.
That’s not to say that these virtual sales have been flawless. One of the most reported mistakes buyers say they have experienced at least sometimes relates to technical problems﹘reported by 9 in 10 (89%) B2B buyers. Others have also complained of sellers not being responsive to their questions or concerns (84%).
It’s also suggested that sellers work more on their virtual meeting or presentation skills. Buyers say they have sometimes encountered sellers using poor or no visual assets during online meetings (86%), not being prepared (83%), lacking presentation skills (80%) or being distracted by external factors such as notifications or people (77%).
Others also report that they have experienced salespeople sending poorly written emails (80%) and generally making an unprofessional impression (75%).
Other Factors Influencing Buying Decisions
Of course, it’s not only the quality of the virtual sale that makes a difference. There are many other factors that influence a buyer’s decision to purchase. Just a few factors cited by buyers include: being led through the discovery of their concerns, wants and needs (71%); being shown what’s possible or how to solve a problem (68%); being listened to (68%); and making an ROI case clear to them (66%).
Unfortunately, buyers report that sellers’ effectiveness in these areas is falling short. This also extends to the inside or virtual sales arena. For example, while buyers say that their decision to purchase is influenced by the seller gaining their attention and keeping them engaged virtually (50%) and collaborating and interacting with them virtually (44%), far fewer say that sellers are effective in these areas (23% and 34%, respectively).
The Challenges Faced by Inside Sales
Fulfilling buyers’ expectations isn’t the only challenge B2B sellers face. Indeed, although the top reported challenge of selling virtually was gaining a buyer’s attention and keeping them engaged virtually (91%), others cite changing a buyer’s point of view on what’s possible and how to solve a problem (89%), developing relationships with buyers virtually (88%) and connecting with buyers and building rapport (87%).
Vendors are also dealing with the shift towards virtual selling, with 8 in 10 saying that making the transition to virtual selling is one of their top challenges. Others are challenged by making a professional impression with buyers virtually (76%) and dealing with technology when leading a virtual sales meeting. And, with many B2B sales and marketers working from home during the pandemic, 6 in 10 (62%) say that they are also challenged by dealing with distractions when working from their home.
The full report can be downloaded here.
About the Data: Findings are based on a global survey of 528 buyers and sellers across the Americas, EMEA and APAC, conducted in May 2020.