With briefcases and suitcases in tow, business-to-business (B2B) sellers have always traveled the distance to meet buyers wherever they are. Buyers are going digital in a big way, so sellers can put away their bags (at least part of the time) and step into digital or hybrid selling. This dramatic shift in B2B buying—more digital, more self-service—has led to a steady decrease in the amount of time buyers spend with sellers. To adapt to this new omnichannel reality, sales teams are reinventing their go-to-market strategies.
B2B selling has truly changed much faster and more dramatically than anyone could have imagined. Buyers now use routinely use up to 10 different channels—up from just five in 2016.1 A “rule of thirds” has emerged: buyers employ a roughly even mix of remote (e.g. videoconferencing and phone conversations), self-service (e.g. e-commerce and digital portals), and traditional sales (e.g. in-person meetings, trade-shows, conferences) at each stage of the sales process.1 The rule of thirds is universal. It describes responses from B2B decision makers across all major industries, at all company sizes, in every country.
Although digital interactions, both remote and self-serve, are here to stay, in-person selling still plays an important role. Buyers aren’t ready to give up face-to-face visits entirely. Buyers view in-person interactions as a sign of how much a supplier values a relationship and can play an especially pivotal part in establishing or re-establishing a relationship. Today’s B2B organizations require a new set of digital-first solutions to navigate the complex and unfamiliar terrain. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights can help.
Omnichannel presents new challenges
Increased opportunities to engage involve increased complexity. First, data ends up scattered across many different systems like customer relationship management (CRM), partner relationship management (PRM), e-commerce, web analytics, trials and demos, online chat, mobile, email, event management, and social networking. Assembling those pieces into a complete picture of a buyer or account is a complicated task that few B2B organizations and their existing systems can handle. Second, customer experiences are becoming increasingly fragmented as organizations struggle to maintain consistency from one touchpoint to the next. This issue is particularly acute for sellers when they don’t have critical context like previous interactions conducted on other channels such as content viewed, product trials initiated, online transactions, and product issues. Giving sellers visibility to the data is a start, but that would still require sellers to digest huge amounts of data to make sense of it all, hampering swift action.
But there are new possibilities
To deliver seamless omnichannel experiences, B2B organizations need a customer data platform (CDP) like Dynamics 365 Customer Insights that’s designed to maintain a persistent and unified view of the buyer across channels. The enterprise-grade CDP creates an adaptive profile of each buyer and account, so organizations can rapidly orchestrate cohesive experiences throughout the journey. Leading B2B organizations rely on unified data as a single source of truth as well as to unlock actionable insights that increase sales alignment and conversion, including account targeting, opportunity scoring, recommended products, dynamic pricing, and churn prevention. For example, sales teams can proactively prioritize accounts based on predictive scoring that takes into account firmographics and all past transactional data as well as behavioral insights like trial usage across all contacts at the account. Or a seller knows it’s the right time to engage since a buyer has just signaled high intent through website activities like viewing multiple pieces of content. Insights like these widen the gap between omnichannel sales leaders and the rest of the field.
The profiles and resulting analytics from Dynamics 365 Customer Insights can be leveraged across every function and systems—including sales force automation (SFA), account-based management (ABM), and e-commerce platforms, so that every person and system that the buyer engages with has the context to provide proactive and personalized experiences at precisely the right moment. This flexible design enables sales organizations to stay agile and future-proof their data foundation even when new sales tools are inevitably added to the mix.
Importantly, sales organizations can ensure that consent is core to every engagement. Privacy and compliance are crucial when it comes to customer data. In this new privacy-first world, consent funnels are as important as purchase funnels. It’s no longer only about collecting and unifying data. When companies build targeted and personalized experiences, customer consent must be infused across all workflows that use customer data. Dynamics 365 Customer Insights is designed from the ground up to be consent-enabled, allowing sales organizations to automatically honor customer consent and privacy, and build trust, across the entire journey.
A next-gen customer data platform can help
The next normal for B2B sales is here, and there’s no looking back. The buyer’s move to omnichannel isn’t as simple as shifting all transactions online. Omnichannel with e-commerce, videoconference, and face-to-face are all a necessary part of the buyer’s journey. What B2B buyers want is nuanced, and so are their views about the most effective way to engage. B2B organizations must continue to adapt to meet this new omnichannel reality. To learn how a CDP can help delight your customers while helping your sales team navigate omnichannel selling to lower the cost of selling, extend reach, and improve sales effectiveness, visit Dynamics 365 Customer Insights.
1- “B2B sales: Omnichannel everywhere, every time”, McKinsey & Company, December 15, 2021.