Future-Proofing Enterprise Sales: Engaging the Hybrid Buyer

November 15, 2023 | Dr. Stephen Timme

The twin forces of digital transformation and the aftereffects of the pandemic continue to alter the enterprise B2B sales landscape. Sellers have been greatly impacted by their buyers’ evolving needs, expectations, and behaviors, creating a demand for new sales outreach strategies and methodologies.

This is the second article in our series on “Future-Proofing Enterprise B2B Sales.” As discussed in our last article, adapting to this new environment requires a hybrid selling model, blending in-person and digital engagement. As a result, sales leaders must recalibrate their outreach approaches to meet prospect’s evolving needs.

This article will explore why these outreach changes are essential and offer proven new strategies that sales leaders can employ to engage and convert prospects.

The Evolving Enterprise B2B Buyer 

As enterprise B2B buyers have taken more control of the buying process, they have become more informed about potential sellers and solutions and, as a result, more demanding. The result is a new set of challenges for your revenue organization and the need to adapt your outreach strategies to meet buyers’ needs. Below are some of the changes in enterprise B2B buyers’ expectations and requirements:

  • Buyers Armed with Information: No longer will cold calls and product / feature-focused pitches suffice when interacting with well-versed buyers. Enterprise B2B buyers have taken it upon themselves to be more informed about potential sellers and solutions. They perform research, read reviews, and consult their networks before engaging with sellers.
  • Digital Interactions: The pandemic accelerated digital transformation across industries. In addition, remote working arrangements permanently altered the dynamics of sales meetings. Buyers now prefer digital interactions and using multiple channels rather than numerous in-person meetings.
  • Personalization is Table Stakes: Previously, sales teams could deliver generic pitches to their prospects and have some success. However, like computer punch cards, generic sales pitches are obsolete - buyers expect a tailored, personalized approach that delivers specifics regarding their priorities and challenges.
  • More Stakeholders: As the complexity of enterprise B2B solutions has increased, so has the number of buyer stakeholders involved in the purchasing decision. This results in lengthier sales cycles, more nuanced buyer decision dynamics, and increased risk aversion.

 A table breaking down the shift in enterprise B2B buyer behavior. The new buyer expectations are that they take control of the selling process, they are armed with detailed info on sellers and solutions, and have a high degree of personalization from sellers. They also prefer primarily digital interactions, require omnichannel approaches, and have many stakeholders involved in the decision.

Developing Your Outreach Strategy

Creating the outreach strategies necessary to fit the demands of your buyers and tailored to your company, market, industry, and geography takes time and effort; do not expect an hour-long session to nail down the specifics. As discussed above, personalization is now table stakes, which can only be accomplished through diligent research. Lastly, ensure your organization has the agility necessary, that as buyers continue to evolve, so will your outreach strategy.

In developing your outreach strategies, the following guidance should direct the building of your strategy:

Omnichannel: A cornerstone of hybrid selling is taking an omnichannel approach to outreach. Utilizing all possible channels allows your team to interact with customers on their preferred channel at the right time.

Seamless Buyer Journey: Relatedly, revenue teams need to make it easy for prospects to move back and forth between their preferred channels as they advance through their buying journey. In addition, leading selling organizations are moving away from a “sales funnel” mentality to a “customer buying journey” mindset. This helps to switch sales personnel from an internal orientation to an external perspective regarding the customer’s progress.

Always Human-centered: Very importantly, the focus on hybrid selling, omnichannel, and new outreach programs should not be construed as taking away from the human-centered and relationship-building imperative of enterprise B2B sales.

Collaborative Development: As the focus changes to a customer-centric omnichannel approach, sales teams need to develop even closer working relationships with marketing, sales support, product development, and related areas. By working together when creating new outreach strategies and tactics, these groups will bring key insights that can result in a more complete view of the prospect’s needs.

Advanced Analytics: For the greatest effectiveness, investment in advanced analytics provides critical insights into what strategies are working. With this data-driven approach, sales teams do not need to rely on “gut” decisions and instead can utilize the analysis to drive strategy refinements.

Automate, Automate, Automate: The increased requirements on teams also necessitate a new look at internal processes and automating repetitive tasks. Utilizing AI and other tools for automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as lead scoring, email follow-ups, appointment scheduling, and recording customer information, streamlines and reduces the sales team’s administrative efforts.

 Implementing Your Outreach Program 

Now that we have reviewed the broad strategic elements that go into developing your outreach program, let's dive into more details. Below are five items your revenue team should take to more effectively engage with clients:

A graphic of the 5 points listed, broken down to show how each work with Client Facing, and Internal Facing.

  1. Choosing the Right Channels - Even though many channels are now available, it does not mean sellers need to use them all for prospects. Buyers will have different preferences and requirements in how they want to interact. Using in-depth research, the goal is to identify the channels where the targeted companies are most active.
  2. Account-Based Selling: In line with a more customer-centric approach and tailoring of outreach programs is account-based selling (ABS). The focus turns from broad outreach to a narrow list of high-value prospects. To succeed with ABS, teams must comprehensively understand the customer, including their priorities, challenges, and strategies.
  3. Value-Driven Content: Customer-facing teams must provide content that drives real value instead of just focusing on the solution's features. This can include case studies, proprietary industry insights, and tailored educational content that provide value for prospects even in a lost deal.
  4. Social Selling: According to a recent study, companies that use social media as a key element in their channel arsenal sell 78% more than other businesses. Engaging with prospects by pushing products and features has shown to be unsuccessful compared to providing insightful, thought leadership content. This type of content builds credibility, provides immediate value, and helps to nurture relationships.
  5. Training: A critical error in deploying new outreach strategies is underestimating the training required. Sales groups need guidance and tools to help them with this transition. It is essential to provide training and guidance on the nuances of the variety of digital channels they will need to become proficient.

Adapting to the New Enterprise Selling Dynamics

An effective enterprise B2B sales outreach program can be boiled down to reaching out to the right executive - with the right message - through the right channel - at the right time. With the enterprise B2B buying environment quickly evolving, sales plans and tactics that worked 15 years ago, even 15 months ago, are woefully outdated.

By understanding that crafting your outreach strategies is an iterative process, and requires a dual value-based and customer-centric approach, you can increase your organization’s chances of success in the demanding enterprise B2B market. 

FinListics - Empower Your Team with Our Value-Based Approach

Keeping up with the rapidly evolving enterprise B2B selling environment is a significant challenge. Having a partner to help provide you with the tools and insights to make your team more effective is critical for your success.

FinListics specializes in offering Business Insights-as-a-Service tools to give your sales team a competitive edge. Your group can gain proprietary insights, apply the language of leaders to elevate executive conversations, and build credibility with buyers.

Please contact us today to talk with one of our experts and receive a free demo.

Posted in Selling Strategies, Sales Training