4 Ways Technology Has Changed B2B Selling

b2b sellingTechnological advancements have the ability to transform any industry or job function overnight—including B2B sales. Although these changes are often exciting, keeping up with the evolving technological landscape can feel like a full-time job. If you fall behind on the latest and greatest in technology, you fall behind your competitors. Don’t let this happen to you!

Today’s blog post breaks down some of the most impactful technological developments B2B selling has seen in the last few years. Keep reading!

Here are five important ways technology has permanently changed B2B selling.

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1.    Adoption of cloud-based CRM.

A salesperson’s CRM—or customer relationship management platform—is one of the most used tools in their technology stack. And for good reason—your CRM manages customer and prospect data and contains valuable information regarding customer behavior and buying habits.  In fact, a recent study revealed that every dollar spent on CRM implementation yields a return of as much as $8.71 in sales revenue (source).

Recently, however, there’s been a development in the CRM world that’s changing the B2B selling process: Cloud-based CRM platforms. For those who aren’t familiar with this technology—it’s exactly what it sounds like: Instead of living in on-site software systems, CRM data is now hosted on the cloud. The key differentiator here is this: Compared to traditional CRM platforms that require on-premise deployment, cloud-based services are instead, deployed on the web.

Between 2008 and 2014, use of cloud-based CRM jumped from 12% to 87% (source). This advancement is more than a simple luxury—in fact, we’d go as far as to say cloud-based CRM systems have permanently rocked the B2B selling world.

Here are a few benefits of cloud-based CRM technology:

Accessibility: Cloud-based solutions free sales reps from the confines of their desk. Now, CRM data is accessible anytime, anywhere.

Increased Productivity: The cloud also makes it possible to power mobile CRM systems. According to one recent report, 65% of sales reps who have adopted mobile CRM have achieved quota, compared to only 22% quota attainment by reps who haven’t adopted mobile CRM (source).

Quick implementation: You can forget time-consuming installation processes. As long as you have Internet access, your cloud-based CRM can be up and running immediately.

Scalability: As your B2B selling objectives change, you’ll need your CRM to reflect that. Cloud-based CRM platforms allow for instant updates so you can get right to work on your new sales goals.

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2.    The rise of big data.

Thanks to the internet, companies are far more connected to their prospects and customers. This, paired with cloud-based CRM technology and the introduction of artificial intelligence, has given companies a quick and easy way to analyze large amounts of data. Yet, studies show that most companies only analyze roughly 12% of the data they have (source). Simply put, they have a ton of information that they just don’t know what to do with.

If you’re one of these companies, it’s time to embrace the power of data. The right tools can help you collect, analyze, and apply your data—effectively transforming your B2B selling process. Here’s how:

More targeted prospecting:  Over 40% of sales reps say prospecting is the most difficult part of their job (source). The latest data-driven sales prospecting tools can analyze your customer and prospect database and uncover new prospects that match the characteristics of your best buyers.

Predictive analytics: Predictive analytics use data to forecast future sales results. Sales forecasting used to be largely guesswork – but with the latest technologies and data analysis, forecasting is much closer to being an exact science.

Improved data maintenance:  Working off of bad, incomplete data is a quick way to kill your sales efficiency. In fact, inaccurate data wastes 27.3% of sales reps’ time. That’s 546 hours a year per full-time sales rep (source)! The latest data hygiene tools keep your database clean, accurate, and up-to-date—on a scheduled basis or with the click of a button.

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3.    Automation becomes standard.

Selling used to require much more manual work—planning presentations, scheduling calls, sending emails, and researching prospects. Luckily, the latest sales automation tools take these menial tasks and make them much more streamlined.

If you haven’t already jumped on the automation bandwagon—here are a few ways you can restructure your workload and focus on the most important part of your job – selling.

Outreach: Automatically establish timely follow-up sequences, create personalized email templates, log call data, distribute relevant content, and streamline your outreach process.

Lead prioritization: Sales reps spend much of their time manually qualifying leads. Manual analysis is not only time-consuming, but it also leaves you prone to errors. Automated lead scoring and routing can alleviate this stress, by identifying the opportunities most likely to close, and ensuring they make their way to the correct team member for outreach.

Reporting: Reporting is crucial to ongoing success and improvement – but if your team utilizes outdated processes, reporting can quickly become tedious and time-consuming. Automated reports save time and resources by ensuring the right individuals receive the most relevant data in a timely, organized manner.

Remember: automation should help streamline your sales process, but it shouldn’t overtake it completely. Automate tasks to save time, but maintain the human element—after all, sales is all about interaction and relationship building.

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4.    Selling has gone social.

The goal of B2B selling is to reach prospects and form meaningful connections with them—all in an effort to influence their purchase decisions. If you’ve worked in sales for any amount of time, you know the best way to do this is to reach your prospects where they’re most active.

Enter: social selling. This growing trend refers to salespeople using social media to interact with prospects and customers. As social media continues to grow, so does social selling. Consider these statistics (source):

  • 78% of salespeople that use social media outperform their peers.
  • Social sellers generate 38% more new opportunities than traditional sellers.
  • Social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than traditional outbound marketing.

Aside from the social platforms themselves, the latest social tools offer a variety of features to inform and simplify your social selling efforts. Here are a few of these features:

Social listening– identify important conversations and keywords that signal a person may be a good fit for your products or services.

Sentiment analysis– quickly analyze aggregated lists of social conversations and their general sentiment. Know right away if a person is happy, mad, or critical.

Key buying indicators- quickly recognize behavior or language patterns that indicate someone is ready to make a purchase.

For deeper insight into the state of social selling check out this article: Social Selling Statistics.

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5.    Information overload derails the traditional buyer’s journey.

In recent years, the B2B buyer’s journey has seen a significant shift. The internet has enabled the proliferation of information in a way that’s never been possible before. As such, this has drastically transformed the buyer’s journey in three ways:

More educated buyers:

Unless you’re new to sales, you’ve likely seen this statistic: 94% of B2B buyers conduct online research at some point in the buying process (source). Due to the vast amount of readily available information, prospects conduct more independent research than ever before – and as a result, today’s B2B buyers are more informed about the options available to them.

For sales reps this means taking a different approach to your standard sales pitch. Instead of starting from the beginning, it can be more effective to let the prospect lead the conversation. Get a feel for what they know about your company and take it from there.

Buyers are more skeptical:

Today’s B2B buyers are increasingly cynical of the marketing and sales messages they encounter. The reason for this is simple: Buyers don’t believe vendors have their best interests at heart, but rather, are too focused on pushing a sale. According to one study, 59% of buyers prefer to do research online instead of interacting with a sales rep because the rep pushes a sales agenda rather than solving a problem (source).

For those who work in sales, this places even more emphasis on relationship building. If your prospect doesn’t trust you, you won’t close the deal. It’s as simple as that.

More saturated marketplace:

While more information makes for a better buyers experience, it often creates a headache for B2B organizations. Think about it: Buyers are now presented with more options than ever before, making it harder than ever to capture their attention when it matters most. To put it simply, the B2B landscape is more competitive than ever before.

For salespeople, this means you have to work even harder to have your message heard. The key to rising above the competition lies in personalization. Forget the one-size-fits-all sales pitch and tailor your outreach to the person in front of you. Your prospects want to feel understood.

Key Takeaways About B2B Selling and Technology

It’s evident, technology is changing every aspect of the sales process. For many, these trends can be overwhelming.  Think about it, sales reps are busy—the last thing they need is a dozen new tools to keep on top of. For this reason, it’s important to be mindful of your technology stack.

Technology should benefit salespeople, but, if you rush implementation or choose the wrong products, technology can do more harm than good. So, take a step back, assess your goals, and identify areas you want to improve. Then, determine what technology addresses your needs best. Take on one objective at a time, and before you know it, you’ll be on your way to a more streamlined, effective sales strategy!

To learn how ZoomInfo fits into your technology stack, contact our sales team today. Our B2B contact database is just what you need to reach decision makers faster.