Depending on the type of automobile you have, when you hit the gas pedal hard, there can be a slight hesitation. A hesitation that can be sometimes unsettling. Especially when trying to enter onto a highway. That moment of hesitation before the acceleration can feel like more than a mere second.
We are in that moment of hesitation when it comes to the future of how B2B buyers will engage in buying. An unsettling time. There is certainly an acceleration about to happen. The coronavirus pandemic has become the fuel of the forthcoming future of the B2B buyer-seller dynamic.
Various studies from McKinsey, Gartner, Forrester, Salesforce, and others show increasingly that B2B buyers want seller-free buying experiences. Our very own Center for Buyer Insights ongoing Buyer Outlook Insights Study, a qualitative versus quantitative surveying approach, shows similar findings. Here is a brief window into what this sounds like:
“There is no question that I’d rather not have to jump on a call with a sales rep if I didn’t have to. It seems that a company today should make that option available and it’s surprising how many don’t.” Charles, Senior Director of Supply Chain Operations
Today, a third to 40% of buyers want a seller-free buying experience. Millennials, who will evolve into comprising the majority of buyers, are already showing nearly a 45%-50% preference for no sellers involved. What will these percentages be by the end of 2022? 45%/60%? 50%/70%? While it is hard to predict, we do know the COVID-19 pandemic is an accelerant. Once behaviors change and digital commerce transform, there will be no turning back. There will be no returning to the way it was.
How Do CROs/CSOs Prepare For The Future?
Just as the moment of hesitation mentioned above can be unsettling, so can the current environment for CROs and CSOs. Revenue and sales leaders will need to adapt to an accelerated rate of change in buying behaviors. And, the growing desire for seller-free buying. A time to reset overall buyer strategy. What type of factors should be considered in order to prepare? Here are 5 important factors:
Buyer Insight: Revenue and Sales leaders will need to possess deep insight into how buyers are changing. Conducting buyer research to gain insight into new goals and situational challenges buyers are experiencing. There is no room for guesswork on understanding buyers. This is not the time to walk blindly into a new future. Instead, leaders can use the tools of buyer insight such as buyer research, buyer personas, and buyer journey mapping as a compass for the future.
Expand The Scope Of Sales: Sales for the past few decades have been focused almost entirely on improving sales effectiveness, productivity, and processes at the individual seller level. Sales leaders will need to expand the scope of sales to include focusing on the buying experience. Developing digital buying capabilities that can allow for sales intervention at the request of buyers. Becoming leaders of buying and not just sellers.
Embrace BxD: Buyer-Seller interactions are undergoing their most significant transformation in decades. Due to the accelerant of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital-centric buyer interactions will evolve at a faster pace. Presenting a pressing design issue. Leaders will need to embrace Buyer Interaction Design that is focused on how the seller and seller-free buying interactions are designed. Infusing digital channels and technology into their buyer interaction design. Solving the content overload buyers currently dread through BxD.
Reprise Sales Enablement: Just as leaders need to expand the scope of sales, as mentioned above, they need to expand the charter of sales enablement. Sales enablement must become the enablers of the buying experience. Enablers of buying-selling interactions. Not just how to make individual buyer-seller relationship effective. Using buyer insight tools and buyer interaction design to enable seller and seller-free buying experiences. Viewing enablement within a continuous loop intersecting sales enablement and buyer enablement.
Hybrid AI Model: As we design the buyer-seller relationship of the future, artificial intelligence will become a large factor. Leaders will need to view AI as a technology that can enhance the buyer-seller interaction. In effect, creating a two-way hybrid model that empowers both sellers and buyers towards mutual goals and purpose.
These 5 factors contribute to the ultimate goal of enabling buyers to buy. To buy without friction. To buy seller-free if desired. To buy in an environment where both buyers and sellers are enabled. To buy within ideal buying experiences.
This the future of buying. This the future of selling. This the future of B2B.