A significant shift in how buyers choose to interact with selling organizations has been underway for the past year. The global pandemic altering seller and buyer interactions in ways unimagined just a few short years ago. A recent McKinsey study suggests that two-thirds of buyers will prefer to keep self-serve interactions or a form of hybrid with a sales representative post-pandemic.
The result of such an accelerated shift is a trend to adapt with virtual selling. We are seeing numerous articles, books, new start-ups, and the likes promising a path to virtual selling nirvana. CSOs are fretting over how to adapt and make the transition. As one CSO put it to me in a recent interview:
“I think we’ve made a good transition to using digital tools and I think virtual selling is definitely something we need to continue to evolve. But it is not easy. It is a lot harder to reach our prospects and even existing customers today. We’re spending more time just trying to wave the flag and get noticed.”
Let’s face it. Buyers are in a much more ensconced seat to simply ignore SDRs and Sales Representative outreach. Working from home, for many buyers, is either proving to be chaotic and unfocused or fraught with unending pressure. For example, here’s a perspective from an anonymous buyer:
“It’s been kind of nuts. On one hand, I like working from home and not worrying about driving to the office. On the other hand, the company thinks work from home means you are available 24/7. So, it’s hard to turn it off and get some space.”
Many sales reps are in the same chaotic boat and are trying to enter another chaotic boat.
Virtual Selling will be here to stay I predict. It will evolve and organizations will get better at it. However, I do believe that selling organizations will face an ongoing challenge in gaining the attention of buyers for direct buyer interactions.
What can CSOs do differently, then? Especially when faced with a shift towards virtual selling and the challenge of getting on the buyer’s radar screen.
One answer is to develop a perspective that buyers are undergoing a shift in goals, mindsets, and behaviors. Such a perspective will help to open up a gateway towards truly understanding the buyer’s mindset. Here are three question-based considerations that will help to not only understand buyers but also gain their attention:
1 – How well does your offering map back to the shifting goals of buyers? How can you elevate your organization’s understanding of how buyer goals have changed beyond unrevealing pain points and needs?
2 – How can you map to a new buyer mindset? How have buyers changed their belief systems, attitudes, perceptions, and aspirations as a result of the pandemic?
3 – How should we design buyer interactions based on the shift in buying behaviors? What does a new buying journey look like?
If an organization lacks buyer insights knowledge and capabilities, getting much-required answers to these three areas is going to be tough going. If you have not updated your buyer personas lately or they were developed without the correct goal-directed methodology, then it is time to refresh.
While the focus on how buyers are choosing to interact is warranted, CSOs will need to give equal attention to gaining deep buyer insights and developing insightful buyer personas. And, more importantly, developing selling capabilities that map back to their buyer personas. Otherwise, gaining the attention of buyers may be a long process that virtual selling alone cannot accomplish.
A long process leaving you on the outside looking in.