It’s not just hybrid work that has become a new norm in the post-pandemic world. Just as employees demand flexible hybrid work opportunities, 86% of consumers prefer to purchase through hybrid sales channels TechRepublic reported in July 2022.
The recent State of Sales Research of Showpad, a sales promotion technology company, reveals how important the hybrid sales trend has become to businesses. Organizations that are not equipped with the right tools, technology and resources lose $1.6 million in annual revenue due to poor digital sales implementation. In addition, sellers, even ill-equipped, lose nearly $210,000 in commissions annually.
Gartner revealed during the pandemic that 60% of civil society organizations expected their sales force to continue working virtually. Virtual selling options were viewed not only for their appeal to consumers, but also for their potential to cut costs, open new sales channels and reach new audiences. Seventy-four percent of CSOs told Gartner that they updated their salesperson skills profile to adapt to modern sales, and 61% began investing in new technologies.
Showpad CEO Hendrik Isebaert spoke to TechRepublic to shed light on the pressing issues of hybrid sales and why it’s a trend that will continue.
“It is generally accepted that we now live in a hybrid world,” says Isebaert. He added that since the pandemic has accelerated hybrid models, the scale and scope of the hybrid landscape has grown exponentially. “In addition to the range of technologies available to support it, its features and functionalities are infinite, and in a B2B environment, hybrid selling offers an always-on or asynchronous approach, meaning organizations never have to stop selling, which ultimately opens up the possibilities.” for monetization.” Isebaert explained.
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The benefits of hybrid sales
Showpad’s research shows that 79% of salespeople clearly understand digital-first selling, and 74% say their company has a standardized system. Yet only 37% believe their sales teams fully integrate digital sales. According to the study, 43% of sellers say digital-first sales is a “must-have buyer expectation”, and 30% say it is a “differentiator to win” in their respective industries.
Hybrid sales, unlike traditional brick and mortar, are not dependent on location restrictions. Buyer and seller no longer have to be in the same place at the same time. “This means you can hire the best salespeople, anywhere in the world, and target the most promising customers, regardless of location,” says Isebaert.
By removing the proximity barrier between buyers and sales, hybrid selling can increase productivity and coverage area and give organizations the ability to easily work around customer availability. “A physical strategy can lead to silos in a company, while a robust hybrid approach tends to have universality and connectivity ingrained in the sales mindset,” explains Isebaert.
Technology, resources and tools are essential to successful hybrid sales. But it’s not just about purchasing the right hardware, software, platforms and services. Educating and training employees and salespeople, and connecting sales channels are just as essential. It’s also critical for businesses to understand their sales cycles, where face-to-face delivers the greatest value and impact on buyers, and where virtual engagements are sufficient or preferred.
Augmented reality, sales-promoting platforms, virtual demos and social media
The McKinsey B2B Pulse Survey signaled in early 2021 that omnichannel in B2B was a reality and not a future novelty. Customers want them all when given the choice between in-person, remote and e-commerce, McKinsey said. Eight in ten B2B decision makers say omnichannel is more effective than traditional methods.
“As retail experiences became e-tail experiences and generations of personal customers became online consumers, the demand for enhanced online product experiences grew rapidly,” said Isebaert. New technologies such as augmented reality have matured and are now being used by leading hybrid merchants in their direct-to-consumer sales channels.
Showpad concludes that social media, augmented reality and modern sales-promoting platforms are the technologies that can transform the sales experience. “Augmented reality sales experiences have led to a fundamental shift in B2B sales,” says Isebaert. He assures companies must adopt these practices to move forward and future-proof the B2B sales experience while delivering enhanced customer journeys.
Sales enablement platforms – solutions that bring people and technology together throughout the sales cycle – are used to optimize innovation in hybrid sales. With the right infrastructure, sellers can drive monetization through virtual deal rooms, opening up more opportunities for buyer-seller collaboration, revealing critical analytics and insights about customer needs, and ultimately streamlining the sales journey, enabling the process to closing deals is accelerated. According to Markets and marketsSome of the leading vendors of sales-promoting platforms are SAP, Bigtincan, Upland Software, Highspot, Seismic, Showpad, ClientPoint, Pitcher, and Qstream.
Companies also use virtual product demos to provide buyers with a more engaging and personalized experience. And internally, virtual product demos are used to accelerate and enhance sales rep training by providing new hires an efficient way to familiarize themselves with a company’s products and services.
To maximize reach, companies that excel in hybrid sales use social media platforms. These social channels outperform professional networks or corporate websites. Showpad’s research shows that Facebook is the most used platform for making business purchases at 69%, followed by Instagram at 57%, YouTube at 48% and LinkedIn at 29%.
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The Gaps and Shortages Holding Back Hybrid Sales
While 71% of salespeople believe their organization invests enough in technology to support sales teams, 53% of salespeople say they could use more training on digital sales and 20% have little or no training.
Half of the merchants surveyed say they need better technology and platforming, and 44% say they need a sales or revenue-boosting platform. According to Showpad, this means that sellers see the value of digital tactics and tools, but organizations don’t prioritize them, which has a significant impact on bottom line.
“Hybrid sales are sometimes seen as an unknown quantity, which can arouse fear or reluctance. However, when it’s distilled, it’s just the next wave of B2B sales evolution,” Isebaert said.
Isebaert believes that B2B hybridity will be mainstream in five years and businesses should consider whether they will embrace it now or be late to the show. According to Showpad, companies using digital sales have increased their revenue by an average of 35%.
“It was the same problem with the digital revolution 25 years ago when companies asked themselves: do we need a website? Or seven years ago when companies wondered: should we be on social media? said Isebaert.