Original article from Workplace360, published August 29, 2023.
What would it take to change your sales strategy? After all, you’ve built relationships with your customers probably through years of face-to-face (f2f) contact, over a cup of tea and getting to know them personally. I was sceptical at first, but now believe hybrid sales is the future of B2B. If you allow me a few minutes of your time, I think I can prove that it can be a good thing – perhaps even a game changer for your business.
Shift in Customer Buying Behaviour
The way people make purchases has transformed. We’ve moved beyond the days of the ‘biscuit dunker,’ where every sale required a personal visit. Clients are turning to digital channels, seeking convenience and efficiency.
According to McKinsey, B2B customers are gravitating towards remote-first engagement, with two-thirds of buyers in 2021 opting for virtual human interaction or digital self-serve. The research firm also states that hybrid selling is on track to become the dominant sales strategy by next year.
But don’t worry, these changes don’t mean you have to lose the personal touch. Hybrid selling enables you to meet customers where they are. It’s not about replacing traditional methods; it’s about attaining the perfect balance between the convenience of digital and remote interactions and the impact of f2f meetings. In fact, when in-person dealings do happen, they become even more crucial as clients want those moments to be meaningful, so every encounter counts tenfold.
The Hybrid Selling Approach
You might be worried your audience won’t accept video calls or will only want to deal with the same salesperson they’ve always known. While these concerns are valid, the truth is buyers are becoming more comfortable with digital communications, seeking efficient ways to get what they need.
Hybrid selling goes beyond remote call centres; it’s a flexible, scalable approach that embraces the omnichannel experience.
By blending inside and field sales, along with e-commerce channels, businesses can serve purchasers where they prefer to buy, offering real-time engagement and personalisation.
This seamless integration of channels enhances customer experience. It also enables sales reps to gain a comprehensive view of behaviour, providing valuable knowledge to tailor their proposition. Adopting the omnichannel experience is key to remaining competitive in today’s fast-paced sales environment.
The agility advantage
In an agile hybrid sales structure, resources are deployed dynamically based on customer opportunities. While in-person engagement still holds value for specific accounts and critical moments, a significant portion of selling is now done remotely. This agility allows sales personnel to respond promptly to changing market demands, adjust strategies in real-time and stay ahead of competitors.
As the business landscape continues to evolve, the capacity to adapt quickly becomes a defining factor for success. Being nimble in your planning allows you to seize new opportunities and remain at the forefront of the industry.
As we negotiate our way through this current era, data-driven insights play a pivotal role. By leveraging digital interactions and behavioural information, reps can prioritise buyers, optimise lead-to-opportunity conversion rates and shape effective market strategies.
The ability to access and analyse data enables teams to make informed decisions, identify emerging trends and personalise their approach for each buyer.
Harnessing the power of data is essential for achieving better sales performance and meeting customer expectations. Data-driven intelligence provides the foundation for successful courses of action in a rapidly changing market.
Technology Empowers Success
The pandemic brought forth a wealth of digital tools that a sales force can employ to delight purchasers at every stage of the funnel. However, the key is to optimise technology to enhance virtual collaborations and streamline processes without overcomplicating them.
Integrating CRM systems with communication tools and data analytics platforms creates a comprehensive tech ecosystem to support reps in their online engagements.
By incorporating technology which complements virtual selling, more efficient and productive workflows can be created while ensuring a customer-centric approach. Technology empowers success by enabling seamless cooperation and efficient procedures.
Enabling Talent + Diversity
Embracing hybrid selling necessitates cultivating new skills and capabilities in salespeople. By focusing on mentorship and coaching, firms can attract a broad-based talent pool, removing barriers for individuals previously excluded due to geographical limitations or other constraints.
Emphasising diversity in talent acquisition not only enriches the sales force with a broader range of perspectives but also aligns with the evolving needs and expectations of a multifaceted customer base.
Encouraging an inclusive and supportive work environment motivates sales professionals to thrive in this new age of hybrid selling, driving innovation and success for both the business and its clients. It brings fresh ideas and perspectives to strategies.
Stay Ahead of the Game
As a sales, marketing, and e-commerce agency partnering with both brands and dealers, Highlands is no stranger to change. Over 60 years, the company has witnessed the evolution of the workplace supplies sector firsthand and understands the importance of a tailored system for go-to-market propositions.
Working alongside dealers on behalf of the brands, opportunities are identified based on decades of experience and data insights. Maximising the benefits of all sales activities requires a solid methodology and Highlands fully supports a hybrid selling model.
As we navigate the future of sales, I want to challenge you to embrace hybrid selling. To reiterate, in order to stay ahead in this dynamic and competitive terrain combine:
- The best of in-person and remote interactions
- Harness data intelligence
- Utilise technology
- Create a more personalised, agile and inclusive sales experience for clients/teams
Oh, and don’t get me wrong, if I come to visit, I’d still love a cup of tea and a biscuit.
Managing Director, Europe