B2B organizations are rapidly shifting from traditional, in-person sales to a hybrid sales model that mixes digital and face-to-face interactions. As your organization navigates the changing buying landscape, are you making the most of the hybrid sales model?
Buyers are clear about what they want from suppliers. According to a recent survey, 70-80% of B2B buyers prefer remote interactions over in-person meetings in many purchasing stages. Buyers want more convenience, more engagement channels, and more personalized experiences.
B2B sellers have noticed the trend, too. A global survey showed that 79% of B2B sellers understand the effectiveness of virtual selling. Research also predicts that 80% of B2B sales interactions will occur over digital channels like LinkedIn, email, and chat messaging by 2025.
Here are some tips on making hybrid sales work for your team and some predictions about the future of B2B sales.
What is a hybrid sales model?
In B2B sales, a hybrid sales model provides information about products and services by combining digital and in-person interactions. The goal of hybrid sales is to cater to customers’ preferences for digital interactions while still providing in-person, trusted guidance with a personal touch.
Within a hybrid model, sales teams follow up with customers through digital channels like email, social media, or chat, as well as over the phone and during in-person meetings.
Remote selling is more efficient than in-person interactions. Remote sales reps can reach four times as many accounts in the same amount of time as in-person selling, and generate up to 50% more revenue during those interactions. To meet buyer expectations and increase productivity, modern sales organizations should work to create seamless buying experiences between digital self-service, in-person, and remote interactions.
4 ways to grow your hybrid sales
Sales organizations that want to outperform need to invest in strategies and tools to respond to customers’ changing needs and improve reps’ effectiveness in remote selling.
Here are four ways to enable your sales team to grow hybrid sales.
1.Create a structured coaching culture
Sales leaders should continually coach new and seasoned sales reps, and mentorship needs to be a requirement for all senior sales reps and managers. Your organization can incentivize one-on-one coaching sessions and virtual “ride-alongs” where new reps can listen in on sales calls.
Using a data-driven approach to sales coaching can also help your reps ramp up more quickly and get to peak productivity. With Pitcher’s advanced analytics, you can clearly see sales activities, review wins and losses, and coach toward meeting individual KPIs.
2.Build a fully-embedded hybrid sales team
Successful sales organizations know that hybrid selling is here to stay and that it requires a different set of skills than traditional selling. Sales reps who are digitally fluent and comfortable presenting virtually are well-suited to a hybrid sales ecosystem.
Rewrite job descriptions to recruit for hybrid-focused skills, and attract candidates that will thrive in a remote selling environment.
It’s also essential to equip and train your sales force with a robust virtual selling toolkit. That means equipment for effective digital presentations, like high-quality cameras, microphones, and lighting – as well as content automation and sales training to boost hybrid sales productivity.
3.Harness customer data
Data collection is another essential part of the hybrid sales model. Use sales analytics tools to understand where your customer is in the sales funnel, so your sales team understands how and when to close the deal.
For example, some digital KPIs signal a strong intent to buy. Those KPIs include:
- Number of recent website visits
- Types of content consumed
- Webinar or event attendance (in-person or virtual)
- Engagement with sales reps (in-person or virtual)
Tracking these metrics for each buyer will help your sales team understand the hybrid sales cycle and know exactly what sales activities are needed at each step. This data also helps your team provide a personalized experience to all prospective buyers.
4.Build trust by practicing consultative selling
Many B2B buyers feel sales reps aren’t listening to their needs or trying to build long-lasting relationships.
Instead of using aggressive sales tactics, the new hybrid sales model requires the adoption of a consultative selling approach.
Consultative selling focuses on building relationships before trying to sell products or services. Strong customer relationships are the goal, rather than fast sales. Sales reps build trust by positioning themselves as subject matter experts who want to listen to buyers’ concerns, understand their pain points, and offer helpful solutions to their problems.
The future of sales
How will sales evolve in the future? What emerging technologies will impact sales organizations, and how will the roles of sales reps and leaders change?
Let’s look at five predictions for the future of hybrid sales.
Omnichannel sales mean customer engagement everywhere
B2B buyers are already comfortable using online and digital channels to meet their purchasing needs. Buyers often use ten or more channels to complete a purchase, double the number used five years ago. Omnichannel engagement will continue to skyrocket in the future.
Sales organizations must continue to adopt an omnichannel approach that meets the needs of their buyers. Channels might include email, phone calls, in-person meetings, your supplier website, a mobile app, an e-procurement portal, web chat, and video conferences.
In the future, remote call centers will be replaced by flexible, scalable sales teams that use a combination of virtual and online channels to serve customers where they prefer to engage and buy.
Using digital sales rooms
With in-person meetings between buyers and sellers replaced by Zoom calls and electronic communication, it’s more important than ever to give buyers a way to access all deal-related content in a single location. Digital sales rooms – secure microsites where buyers and sellers can collaborate, communicate, and access content – simplify the buying process and provide meaningful experiences that can differentiate your company from the competition.
Digital sales rooms are vital for the future of sales because most B2B buyers engage in “looping” behavior where they visit a channel several times during the buying process. With a dedicated digital sales room, your team can give customers a way to find the content they need, when they need it.
Reducing friction during the sales cycle
During their 2021 Buyer Experience Study, Qwilr reported that 80% of SaaS buyers felt the buying process was too cumbersome, involved too many steps, and too much paperwork.
Sales reps on high-performing teams of the future will need to focus on exercising empathy for the buyer, understanding their frustrations, and doing their best to eliminate friction as much as possible.
Offer a path for resolving a customer’s problem quickly and easily, and streamline the buying process to include only the most critical steps.
Focusing on reducing friction won’t just benefit your customers – it will also impact your sales team. By shortening the sales cycle, you can accelerate closing and increase your bottom line.
Hybrid sales organizations will conduct the majority of sales virtually, but still engage face-to-face in response to customer needs and opportunities. These in-person touchpoints will be reserved for specific accounts or customers who have signaled a preference for in-person engagement.
Agile sales teams will need to regularly assess the effectiveness of their mix of remote selling, in-person engagement, and self-service interaction to align goals accordingly.
Flexible planning and collaboration also make it easier for B2B companies that sell solutions to partner with specialists to design best-fit offerings for their customers. For example, marketing and engineering teams can help reps sell across product lines and design bespoke offerings.
Pervasive sales technology
Data-driven sales management and AI-enabled solutions will become commonplace in future sales teams. Elegant sales software solutions will enable sales leaders and reps to make data-driven decisions, increase productivity, and streamline their day-to-day workflows.
Technology won’t be a separate part of a sales organization – tech solutions will be integrated into every facet of the sales process. Accordingly, tech savviness will be an absolute requirement for new hires, as will writing skills necessary for email, chat, and social media communication.
Creating a top-performing hybrid sales team
The pandemic has permanently changed the selling model, forcing B2B organizations to restructure on the fly and create more compelling value propositions. In a remote-first world, your team can use the tips in this article to conduct experiments, see what works, and learn what can be integrated and scaled to create a high-performing hybrid sales team.