The COVID-19 pandemic drastically accelerated the shift toward doing remote business. B2B companies, marketers, and salespeople, in particular, were forced to fully embrace virtual selling and find solutions that give them the edge in this highly competitive space.
Sales intelligence is one of the key factors that drive success in this race but is often misunderstood or underutilized. Below, we’ll introduce both virtual sales and sales intelligence and how they can intersect to give B2B companies the edge in their sales activities.
What is Virtual Selling?
Virtual selling is self-explanatory; It’s using digital technologies to facilitate and mediate the sales process. It involves methods used by sellers to market to, communicate with, sell to, and convert potential buyers. Virtual selling bridges the gap between sellers and buyers who have to connect remotely.
Virtual selling involves all facets of the digital sales experience, from the salespeople to the processes, to the technologies used.
However, Virtual selling is not always an end-to-end remote process and may be used to create opportunities for in-person sales as well. Buyers typically access virtual selling experiences using personal devices like computers, tablets, and smartphones.
Virtual selling involves many different activities and technologies and can take multiple forms. For example, salespeople and prospects can communicate either using synchronous or asynchronous methods. Synchronous communications are scheduled, real-time interactions, like phone calls, live chat, or video calls. Asynchronous communications use tools like email, forums, Kanban boards, etc.
So, as you can see, your business is probably already using some form of virtual selling. However, as digital sales become more competitive, companies are trying to find, formalize and define their virtual sales strategy to optimize it for more sales. One of the ways they can be more competitive is to use sales intelligence to inform and improve their virtual selling activities.
How Does Sales Intelligence Enhance Virtual Selling?
Ask any seasoned salesperson, and they’ll tell you that information is the key competitive factor in any sales situation. Every decision made should be informed by accurate, timely, actionable, and relevant information. Among other things, sales intelligence will help you:
- Know who your target market is
- Prioritize your most valuable accounts
- Who the buying decision makers are within your accounts
- What do they want, and what factors will drive them toward positive outcomes
- When and how to reach out to prospects for maximum effect
Armed with this data, salespeople can improve their sales strategies and tactics and get the maximum value out of each prospect.
The data that provides you with answers to these questions is what’s called sales intelligence data. And the term sales intelligence refers to the technology solutions that provide data to salespeople and marketers in the B2B space.
Sales intelligence tools pull data from various sources, including your past sales, existing client accounts, prospecting platforms (LinkedIn, etc.), etc.
However, sales intelligence is not only about collecting data but also organizing and managing it, making it available to salespeople, and integrating it with your other business systems. Cutting-edge sales intelligence solutions even use technologies like AI and machine learning to provide real-time analytics for intelligent recommendations and to accelerate decision-making.
Sales intelligence systems also typically overlap and integrate with CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems. This dramatically streamlines the process of using sales intelligence when interacting with your clients and ensures that everyone works from a single source of truth.
For all these reasons, sales intelligence has a myriad of benefits in the virtual selling space. It allows salespeople to act faster and more efficiently while also engaging customers in ways that increase their chances of conversions.
Virtual Selling - By The Numbers
It’s clear that virtual sales are the future, according to both buyers and sellers. According to a survey by Bain & Company, 92% of B2B buyers prefer virtual sales interactions, up 17% from the previous year. 79% of sellers feel the same way, compared with just 54%.
However, for many B2B businesses, the reality often falls short of expectations. On average, companies only experience a 45% improved win rate and a 43% increased revenue per sales rep. That’s in contrast to executives expecting an 88% and 78% improvement, respectively. Front-line salespeople often have more realistic but still inflated expectations of 62% and 64% improvement.
In any other light, a 40%+ improvement is still a massive win, but why does reality fall so far short of expectations?
The answer lies in typical B2B buyer attitudes and behaviors. 80% of buyers have set their specifications before even engaging a sales rep, and 35% go into the sales process with a vendor bias.
With so much information out there, buyers are more well-informed than ever. 38% of buyers have already made up their minds before even starting the process, while a further 43% have set selection criteria and shortlisted vendors.
One of the things that this highlights is, many sales are lost before you’ve begun to sell. Or, that a particular lead might take up so much of your focus that it will cause you to miss out on much easier and more valuable opportunities.
The overriding goal for most B2B businesses is to improve your sales ROI to boost your bottom line. This is precisely where sales intelligence comes in because it gives salespeople the information they need to target the right prospects and focus their efforts on the most likely sales with the highest potential customer lifetime value.
Empower Your Sales People
Sales intelligence is one of the key differentiators that can help B2B sales teams do more with less while also acting faster and more decisively than the competition. At the same time, it will empower your salespeople to focus their efforts on winning prospects and maximize their time by focusing on actually making sales and less on data management.