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B2B Sales in the Age of COVID-19

Adapting B2B Sales in COVID-19: Navigating Digital Shifts and Economic Challenges" - Insights on evolving consumer behavior, spending, and remote sales strategies.
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Published on
October 8, 2022

The deadly effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be devastating in many parts of the world. However, despite its unknown ramifications, it is already evident that its economic repercussions and impacts on B2B sales are devastating.Even as they manage that reality, B2B sales leaders must adjust how their companies sell in light of new consumer behaviors and trying economic conditions. Taking care of your people and clients must be a top priority for B2B sales executives thinking about how to respond.B2B Sales leaders must also modify how their businesses sell in the face of changing consumer habits and trying economic climates.

In many ways, the shift in consumer behavior is merely the acceleration of trends that had already begun.B2B sales operations will be fundamentally different from what they have been in the past. Here are three points to look into


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How to spend

Companies are generally reducing their spending, but a significant number of them are increasing or maintaining it, with rates depending on company size, sector, and—more than any other element—geography in the world.


Looking ahead, B2B firms anticipate digital interactions to be two to three times more significant for their consumers than conventional sales interactions.


More than three-quarters of B2B sales have switched to a videoconferencing (VC)/phone/web sales strategy, and while some doubt persists, more than half feel that it is as or more successful than previous COVID-19 sales methods. Leaders in B2B sales should adjust their responses and manage their firms through the three phases of the COVID-19 response:

1) with resolve and resilience, we can navigate the current crisis

2) create a practical plan for the recovery, and

3) reimagine the future of normal.

Given the current market conditions, it's clear that there is a lot of uncertainty. But we're starting to see plenty of indicators that suggest previous trends are continuing—omnichannel selling, inside sales, technology-enabled selling, and e-commerce, rather than entirely different actions.B2B Sales executives have already begun to react, with the greatest ones concentrating on how to make targeted modifications in order to help their companies weather the storm and get ready for recovery.In the coming weeks, we'll add comments regarding planning for the recovery as well as reinventing the new normal for B2B sales.

The change in spending

Given some of the bleak economic indicators, we would have expected even more draconian spending cuts.

However, a large number are keeping it or even increasing it, at least for the time being.

This is especially true for large enterprises, with 53% expecting to grow or maintain spending in the coming two weeks (April 8–21, 2020).The rate of change in spending, whether up or down, was no more than 25% of total spend in 85 percent of the cases.

This upbeat mood persisted across industries, with those in pharma, medical products, technology, and media anticipating the largest increases in spending.

While travel and global energy and materials are likely to have the smallest increases.

Geographically, these spending patterns are comparable, albeit US corporations reported increasing or sustaining spending at a faster rate than their European counterparts.

Chinese and Indian decision-makers claimed even greater percentages of raising or maintaining spending.

However, a clear majority of Indian enterprises stated that they are changing their spending—36 percent increasing it and 46 percent reducing back—and only 16 percent maintaining it.

The digital transformation

The importance of digital channels for B2B sales enterprises has expanded dramatically in recent years, similar to what we've seen in the B2C environment, and has radically increased since the COVID-19 issue began.

Digital channels are now rated roughly twice as important by B2B sales leaders as they were previously.B2B sales decision-makers in Spain and the United Kingdom rating them more than those in Japan and South Korea, at the lower end of the scale.

Customer behavior reflects this increase in the importance of digital interactions.

Customers' preference for digitally-enabled sales interactions has increased dramatically when researching items, with suppliers' mobile apps and social media or online communities showing the most significant increase since 2019.

In China, mobile apps are twice as vital for product research as they are in the United Kingdom or Germany. Surprisingly, the value of a supplier's website did not change significantly, owing to the fact that customers were already actively using supplier websites during this stage of their trip. Buyers expressed a high preference for self-service when making a purchase, with the significance of providers' mobile apps more than doubling since 2019.However, providing customers with a variety of self-service options is insufficient.

It's crucial to get the options right on a regular basis.

Buyers will no longer take less from their professional experience as B2B buyers than they have come to expect from their personal experience as consumers. According to the findings of our 2019 survey, suppliers who deliver exceptional digital experiences to their buyers are more than twice as likely to be chosen as the primary suppliers. Those who provide poor experiences, and nearly 70% more likely than those who provide only fair experiences. In that context, we discovered that "doing it right" entails delivering on the three most important factors for buyers: speed, transparency, and knowledge. These goals apply to all channels and are more important now than ever. For example, one of the top three needs for a best-in-class supplier was the availability of live chat throughout the research stage of the buying experience, according to 33% of buyers polled.

For example, live chat provides speed, transparency, and expertise—all of which are important to customers.B2B sales organizations must, at the very least, address their customers' most important pain points and frustrations in order to provide great digital experiences and drive loyalty. When we asked our decision-makers to name the top three most aggravating aspects of suppliers' websites, 36 percent said the length of the purchase process.34 percent said the difficulty of discovering products, and 33 percent said technical challenges with ordering. Other typical complaints were perplexing websites, a lack of delivery and technical support information, and trouble setting up payments.

The shift to online sales

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Because lockdowns, shelter-in-place orders, and quarantining have compelled individuals to stay at home, the shift to remote selling, like practically all functions in almost every industry, was born of necessity.B2B vendors have reacted incredibly quickly: almost 90% of them work via videoconferencing or phone. China and India are at the forefront of this movement in terms of scale, with Spain and the United Kingdom not far behind.

As one might expect, the trend is more severe in some industries than others: in technology, media, and telecommunications, it is about 100 percent. The effectiveness of the shift to remote working, on the other hand, is a point of contention among B2B sales decision-makers.Every person who said it was "less effective" was countered by someone who said it was "equally or more effective."However, there were some disparities by country, with India and the United States ranked first and second in perceived efficacy, with 68 and 60 percent, respectively.

The COVID-19 pandemic's abrupt and large shift to remote working, as well as the "consumerization" of B2B buying that was already underway, have important ramifications for how businesses sell to and buy from one another.

Salespeople are already working hard to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis.

In addition to retraining salespeople to work remotely, nearly 70% of organizations have developed multidisciplinary commercial nerve centers to oversee B2B sales activities throughout this period.

While most B2B sales leaders see the need to improve their usage of digital channels (many have already made considerable changes since the quarantines began), it's not as simple as simply "going digital."Because of the rapid growth in the usage of digital and self-service channels, businesses must consider not just how to enable efficient digital interactions, but also how to strategically deploy their B2B sales agents.Reorganizing the customer experience and related B2B sales procedures across channels should be at the top of sales leaders' priority lists as they strive to navigate this crisis and plan for recovery.Determining how to best deploy B2B sales personnel across channels to assist clients and provide support when it is most needed should also be considered.


B2B Sales leaders need a clear understanding of what their consumers want. Also, what measures their organization can take to meet those demands.

Especially in an environment where habits and practices have evolved so swiftly and will likely continue to do so.

Traditional face-to-face encounters have given way to videoconferences via Zoom or Google Meet, webinars, phone calls, human chatbots, and other methods of B2B sales and service assistance.

However, in this remote and computerized world, the human touch still plays an important role.

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