The vast majority of enterprise firms have adopted at least some hybrid work policies permanently. As a result, it has produced a new paradigm. This is particularly true for sales and marketing functions that have made pivotal shifts to digital transformation. Complex B2B transactions were the last bastion of sales and business development to rely on a fully digital approach to closing deals. Significant investments have been made into cultivating high-level relationships and communicating complex value stories in a digital medium. One of the companies that enterprise Fortune 500 firms have turned to in facilitating that pivot has been Kaon Interactive, whose namesake digital selling platform as well as its recently launched hybrid meeting platform, LiveShare, have helped enterprise sales teams build a fully immersive digital environment for engaging customers.
We sat down with Kaon’s CEO Gavin Finn. We asked how to take a deep dive into how global B2B firms are approaching digital selling.
What Is Digital Selling?
Digital selling is an approach to connecting B2B customers with the products and services they need using methods centered on digital engagement.
This approach requires moving away from the previous business model. Marketing teams focused on brand awareness and lead generation. Sales teams had the task of pushing B2B prospects the remainder of the way through the sales funnel.
Digital selling requires businesses to focus instead on three key competencies to achieve digital transformation in B2B sales.
According to Finn, the first of these is “enabling buyers to learn about the company’s solutions and differentiated value in all digital and in-person touch-points without the requirement for a guided experience from a salesperson.”
The other two involve “changing the role of the sales team from selling a product or solution to helping customers solve problems” and “dismantling the boundaries between marketing and sales organizations so as to foster an inter-dependent synergy between these groups, focused on customers and their outcomes.”
As companies embrace digital selling, engagement methods between buyers and sellers are going to shift. In-person sales will be reduced and more likely to occur toward the end of the sales cycle. In-person events will also be less common.
However, we can use digital events to offer customers access to product education.
Why Is Digital Selling Important in B2B?
In B2B sales, buyer preferences have shifted just like in the business-to-consumer world. Now, buyers prefer a self-guided but facilitated experience as they navigate the customer journey. Digital selling reflects brands’ willingness to be responsive to these new preferences.
Rather than being partnered with a sales rep from the start who largely controls and curates the customer experience, Finn promotes a different response.
“Prospects and customers need to be able to learn and explore on their own, developing an understanding of how the company may help them in their problem-solving journey,” he explains.
Ultimately, this puts the customer in a much more empowered position.
The Changing Role of Relationships in Digital Sales
It’s important to understand that a stakeholder doesn’t start with the goal of purchasing a product or service. Instead, their motivation is solving a problem or creating efficiencies that help their teams achieve organizational goals.
When they engage with product or service providers, they are searching for someone to partner with them and attain these goals.
Both rep-driven and digital selling involve building relationships and establishing trust. However, the process is different for each. Finn gives a few examples of how this happens using a traditional selling approach:
“When sales team members and senior executives started their engagement in an in-person venue, they had the opportunity to take customers to lunch, or even the proverbial golf outing, as a way of building the initial trusted relationship. In this manner, they developed a highly individualized confidence-building process.”
The exploration and discovery process is now largely left in the hands of the buyer. As a result, buyers hold more power than they did before. They decide what they want to learn and when.
Sales teams must be able to rely on their chosen digital engagement tools. Likewise, they must partner with the marketing team. As a result, they can ensure that they can deliver the right content to prospects at the right time.