Cisco Canada Blog

Virtual Sales Vantage Point: Unlocking sales opportunities in a virtual-first world

March 23, 2021

Despite the challenges we’ve faced in the past year, marketers have continued to create opportunities amidst a rapidly changing world. We have had to reimagine how to collaborate, problem solve, and continue to “move the ball down the field” as Amy Protexter, SVP of North America Marketing at Insight so aptly put it earlier this year.

However, this year has also provided an opportunity for us, as marketers, to partner closely with sales teams. Without the ability for field sales teams to connect with customers in-person, sellers have had to embrace a virtual-first approach. This has, in-turn, meant that sales teams are now working closer than ever with marketing teams to co-develop engaging content that drives impact in new areas of the business. We are also thriving to reach audiences whose methods of interaction continue to evolve, and customers’ expectations of a personalized experience continue to increase.

But as organizations continue to bring virtual sales and marketing together, leadership teams are now reconsidering what to prioritize. Let’s explore some of the key elements that organizations should anchor on.

The state of customer experience

First, marketers and sellers need to put a permanent stake in the ground, emphasizing a memorable customer experience through digital-first selling.

Whether at work or in their personal lives, customers are juggling multiple obligations, from supporting distance learning, balancing workloads, and isolation from friends and family. Although there is hope on the horizon as vaccine rollout ramps up across the world, we must take customers’ stressors into consideration – and consider how we can make customers’ lives better and easier. Why? Because we know that customers want to do business with companies that are doing just that.

A SalesForce Survey found 82% of business buyers want the same experience as when they’re buying for themselves, and 72% of business buyers expect vendors to personalize engagement to their needs. B2B doesn’t exist in a vacuum and customers are constantly comparing their experiences to consumer-friendly products like Spotify, Netflix, Apple and Amazon. The strength of these companies is their ability to tailor their customer experiences to past purchase behaviours, while making predictions for the future purchases.

B2B marketing in a digital-first world

While some consumer behaviours may return to normal as vaccine deployment continues around the world, many behaviours are here to stay, like remote work and online shopping.

If you haven’t already, consider how the digital customer experience can be revamped to provide the same usability and convenience that consumer-friendly companies provide. The repercussions of not adapting to this motion are evidenced by the numbers: only 27% of business buyers say companies excel at meeting their standards for an overall B2B experience, and 67% say they have switched vendors for a more consumer-like experience.

But this also means there’s an opportunity to create a more personalized, seamless experience for buyers. It’s important to remember as marketers and sellers what it’s like on the other side of the experience.

Blake Morgan, keynote speaker and author of In The Customer of the Future, noted B2B marketers should keep these three things in mind when tailoring the customer experience:

  • What is the customer going through right now?
  • What do they need?
  • How can we consider their past purchases or where they are in their career to be relevant to them currently?

B2B customers are looking for a frictionless experience in their buyer journey, just as they do in their personal purchasing. Teams must always be looking to improve operational efficiencies behind the scenes for a smooth front-facing customer journey. This integrated approach will only be successful if sales and marketing are speaking the same digital language.

Hone your digital skill set

As traditional brick-and-mortar businesses have closed or reduced in-person capacity, digital experiences have become the prominent avenue for all purchases. Marketing-led channels, especially social media channels, have become the first stop for customers who are eager for information.

With digital now being the first point-of-contact, it is critical for sales and marketing to be aligned when discussing the strategies, tools, and tactics to drive lead generation. And in tandem, teams need to advocate to improve the overall customer experience — from SEO, industry-relevant content, and personalized email marketing campaigns.

Responding to the needs of our sales teams, we recently introduced Marketing Velocity Learning, a robust curriculum designed to enrich your marketing practices and drive demand. This educational platform provides training for individuals in marketing and sales to develop skills and ensure they’re set up for success in today’s ever-changing environment. Not only does this hone the tools already present in their marketing toolbox, it also ensures when teams discuss outcomes, everyone understands the tactics needed to get there.

As marketing and virtual sales teams continue to work more closely together, so will the opportunity to reach customers and make an impact in new, transformational ways. We’ll continue to explore this in the Virtual Sales Vantage Point blog series over the coming weeks. For the first article in the series charting the evolution of virtual sales, click here.

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