The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns hastened the trend of business-to-business (B2B) customers buying through digital channels. A recent global Bain & Company survey, conducted with Dynata, found that 92% of B2B buyers prefer virtual sales interactions, up 17 percentage points from our survey in May 2020. Yet despite broader buyer acceptance, execution by sellers generally falls short. For example, there’s often a big gap between sellers’ beliefs and buyers’ expectations. The most effective sales organizations have overhauled their entire sales models.
One industrial distribution and services firm with a traditional door-to-door sales model decided to take advantage of the pandemic-induced adoption of virtual interactions. Based on an assessment of its customers’ appetite for virtual, the firm designed a new coverage model that blends physical and digital customer touchpoints, realigned its segmentation, and introduced tools such as sales call recording to improve salesforce training as well as digital content sharing to improve the customer experience. A pilot testing the new model in two regions produced 15% growth in the sales pipeline despite a 20% reduction of the salesforce. Customers give the virtual model high marks (a 90% Net Promoter Score℠), and the industrial firm is now rolling it out globally.