B2B Decision-Makers Grow More Confident in their New Sales Models

January 24, 2022
McKinsey Confidence New B2B Sales Models Jan2022

The pandemic had a near-immediate impact on B2B marketing strategies, including increasing investment and focus on digital channels and improving customer experience. These changes in strategy appear to be working, with recent data from McKinsey & Company indicating that B2B decision-makers’ confidence in their new sales model has also grown since the start of the pandemic. 

Back in April 2020, only about one-third of the US B2B decision-makers surveyed reported that their company’s new sales model was much more (11%) or somewhat more (23%) effective than their pre-pandemic model at reaching and serving customers. Some 18 months later, that share has more than doubled, with close to three-quarters saying they are more confident in the effectiveness of their new sales model.

Throughout this time, B2B buyers increased their remote interactions with suppliers’ sales representatives throughout the different stages of their buying cycle. The data also reflects an uptick in the choice of digital self-service across the stages between August 2020 and November 2021. Other research has also found that B2B marketing executives envision their go-to-market organization changing to a hybrid model, with marketing taking responsibility for digital selling and self-service across the customer lifecycle.

The shift toward digital sales can also be seen in the increase in digital or hybrid sales roles. Over the past year, respondents report that hybrid sales roles have had a net increase of 70% in the past year, while digital sales roles have increased by 64%. What’s more, by the end of 2021, more than three-quarters (77%) of orders for a new product or service through digital self-service or remote human interactions were $50,000 or more.

B2B Customers Use More Channels

B2B customers have always used a number of channels during their decision-making process. Over the past 5 years, the average number of distinct channels they use has doubled from 5 to 10. This increase is likely due to the growth in the use of digital channels and tactics, even as B2B digital marketers have expressed concern about the challenges in reaching their target audience through digital channels.

When it comes to B2B sales, there has been an increase since before the pandemic in the share of sellers who offer e-commerce channels. In fact, McKinsey’s data indicates that more B2B vendors sell their products and services via e-commerce channels than sell in-person. Furthermore, respondents are more likely to say that e-commerce is the most effective channel for sales than they are to say the same about in-person sales. 

However, it’s worth noting that research from Wunderman Thompson Intelligence suggests that B2B buyers may decrease their use of online channels to purchase products once the pandemic has ended.

Customer Experience Essentials

There are certain customer experience factors that, if not fulfilled, will result in B2B buyers actively looking for another supplier. These include performance guarantees, ability to purchase from any channel, consistent experience across channels, readily available customer reviews, and free shipping available on all orders. 

Lastly, as the relationship between B2B buyers and sellers progresses, buyers show a greater preference for frequent (monthly or more) interactions with their suppliers, whether it be in-person or via video conference.

Read more here.

About the Data: November 2021 data is based on US respondents from a global survey of 602 B2B decision-makers.

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