Business is about buying things, selling things, and engaging with customers. CX is about providing experiences that make people want to engage with you, buy from you, and buy again.
Everyone knows that buyers today expect more than ever. To meet demand, minimize disruption, and create opportunities for growth, B2B companies must strive to support a digitally enabled customer experience (CX).
The B2B sales trends for 2022 are all about a laser-like focus on the customer and improving CX.
B2B sales trends: Switching things up, putting customers first
The best way for B2B companies to improve CX is to move away from legacy operations and dig in deep with each customer digitally, according to Jodi Simmons of the CX Advisory Group at SAP. That’s your best chance to make sure customers get what they want, when they need it.
“Customer experience is an inside job,” she says.
Determining what to change and designing new processes or solutions requires input from your customers. Too often, companies sit down and map out what they think customers would like, without inviting them to weigh in.
“Ask your customers,” says Simmons. “Find out what they want, what will make their lives simpler, and how they want to connect with your brand. Don’t make assumptions. If you really want to make a customer-centric change within your business, don’t do it inside-out. Work from the outside in.”
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5 sales trends gaining steam in 2022
Here are the top ways companies are working to improve internal operations so they can better meet buyer expectations.
- Reevaluating stakeholder management. Often, each product line and line of business has different KPIs and success measures, which can inadvertently compete. By thinking of these groups cohesively, you can design KPIs that drive positive results across CX. With the right milestones and effective communication, you can help stakeholders meet their goals – and those of your business.
- Guided selling tools. Guided selling tools can help reps become productive and successful faster. Compared to the rigid, often irrelevant selling workflows of legacy CRM, guided selling looks at customer data and uses AI to deliver recommendations to help sales teams be more successful.
- Expanded data reach. Consider unifying external data with your operational and customer data. For example, a tire manufacturer implemented a new website feature that allows customers to scan their car license plate. Using publicly available data from the local motor vehicles department, they can correlate vehicle data with tire information and provide a list of tire options to the customer. By connecting data in this way, B2B enterprises can build a progressive profile for customer interactions.
- Connecting data to build customer relationships. Customers are willing to provide you with their information and preferences so they can access your systems. A powerful customer portal makes that process even easier. By combining customer data with data in your CRM system – and making it available your stakeholders – you can help your sales team build rich, deep customer relationships.
- Connected systems. If your CRM solutions are siloed, you’ll run into problems addressing CX holistically. The key is to bring data together to get the best possible customer insights. But these insights also need to include data from back-end systems like ERP to provide visibility into things like inventory and available-to-promise.
The modern B2B sales process is dynamic and fast-paced. Through guided selling, businesses can empower their sellers to engage more effectively with customers and win more deals.
Real-life example of sales transformation
One leading company, Nordson Corp., illustrates these sales trends. The company, which engineers, manufactures, and markets products used for adhesives, coatings, and sealants, is transforming its sales operations — and seeing results.
Because Nordson makes highly engineered products that are specifically tailored to the needs of each customer, sales cycles can be long. To simplify the process of identifying opportunities, developing solutions, and servicing its customers, the company adopted a customer-centric approach with connectivity at the heart.
Looking for state-of-the-art mobile capabilities and an intuitive user interface, Nordson deployed a new cloud-based CRM. The solution was initially piloted for the sales team, but the company quickly extended access to its marketing, engineering, customer service, field service, and technical service groups.
Today, 2,000 internal users can access the system. As soon as a potential opportunity emerges, Nordson’s connected process pulls in the engineering and application team to support the sales cycle. Once an opportunity is considered viable, the stream continues to bring in critical resources and other groups in a collaborative environment.
“By having different stakeholders use the same platform in the selling, support, and service processes, we’ve accelerated the sales cycle,” says Donald Davis, lead business analyst for Nordson. “We’ve reduced the turnaround time needed to deliver quotes to our customers. Those improvements benefit not only our company but also our customers.”
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Prepping for what’s next in B2B
After a decade of change and a global pandemic, we’ve just been through the ultimate business disruption. And that would make anyone feel a bit wobbly.
But if your B2B business is willing to adopt the right approach to meeting buyer expectations, everything that comes next should be a steady growth opportunity.