What does the shift to remote mean for B2B sales?

Prior to Covid, B2B sales were having to adapt to B2B buyers shifting toward digital services such as online chat and self-service options. This has increased due to the necessity to social distance and stay at home throughout numerous lockdowns.

What changes have B2B sales and marketing companies made?

The pandemic triggered the need for B2B sellers to move their offerings online. Since it has been challenging to arrange face to face meetings with any regularity, virtual options such as Microsoft teams and Zoom have helped to keep businesses communicating internally and externally.

However, according to Prophet, as the nation begins to get to grips with Covid, the trend towards virtual sales is likely to continue. This is partly because businesses will have had to invest in work from home set ups (such as increased cyber security and work from equipment) but also because B2B buyers have found self-service options and online interaction more convenient than the traditional face to face options. This view is supported by research carried out by McKinsey & Company with 70-80% of B2B decision makers preferring remote interaction or self-service.

What changes might these businesses make in future?

Since subscription services has seen little decline compared to other business areas, Prophet predicts that many B2B companies may begin to see subscriptions as a worthwhile model as they ensure a source of sustained revenue.

Prophet also suggests that automation will play a key role with business looking to save money on labour costs. From a recruitment point of view, we have seen the jobs market shrink during the pandemic with many businesses being forced to make redundancies or face closure. However, while certain roles no longer exist due to a drop off in demand, there will be certain gaps left in workflows. For this reason, it seems likely that businesses may explore which areas of their B2B sales they can automate. In the long run, investing in new systems that provide chat bots or automated phone systems might prove to be more cost effective than hiring temporary staff to fill gaps until the companies recover enough to require permanent staff.

What might this mean for future jobs in B2B sales and marketing?

The likelihood is, that as the economy starts to recover, companies will still require the traditional sales and marketing roles. That said, as with most sectors and perhaps more so for this one, the requirement for digital skills will increase. Particularly if companies are to move faster and further toward automation and mostly virtual services.

Able Account Managers and Business Development professionals will always be desirable but may be expected to be even more data lead than in previous times. Contrary to this, we might expect to see a decline in customer service and sales coordinators. However, this would prove detrimental in the long term as companies struggle to find new business development and account managers coming up through the ranks due to a lack of entry points. While automation and virtual meetings have proved to be life saving during the pandemic, balancing the current needs of a business with future needs will be critical.