It’s a brand new year.
A year for which experts have the following projections:
- Volatile energy prices and record-breaking inflation will drive at least a mild recession, with the U.S. economy being more resilient than other world powers, but still impacted
- Individual buying habits are trending toward consumers spending “more” but demanding “better,” a balance of cost and return which will have an upstream impact on businesses
According to analysts in Harvard Business Review, two mindset shifts are impacting B2B buyers:
- “The time horizon of their focus” — near vs. far and long-term revenue growth
- “Their definition of value,” or what will support the most meaningful business priorities
At every leg of the sales race, procurement and sales professionals must be equipped to capably handle objections around time and value, making a winning case through skillful negotiations.
What’s Changed Since 2020
Some of the novel elements impacting procurement and sales were catalyzed by the 2020 pandemic and advancements in technology.
For instance, procurement personnel and sales reps have already had to adapt to:
Remote-first exchanges — These are unlikely to go anywhere, with hybrid sales predicted to be the most dominant selling strategy by 2024 and the fact that they drive as much as 50% more revenue compared to traditional models.
Changing buyer demographics — Gens X-Z are now not only in the mix but rising into leadership positions in some organizations. The fact that they are digital natives coupled with the fact that they have different communication preferences and styles has changed the way procurement and sales get done.
Changing buyer groups — As of the 2021 Forrester “Predictions in B2B Sales” report, 75% more people are involved in the B2B sales decision-making process than in years prior.
To sum up: This is happening online, younger people are at the table, and that table has more seats.
What’s Changing Now
That all happened. So what’s happening now?
Martech, sales tech, procurement tech, all the tech — This applies to both of the groups we’re talking about in this article.
- Procurement is dealing with fast-tracked innovations that leverage blockchain, big data, supplier management, automated RFP processes, cloud and mobile applications, and more. It’s dizzying how fast procurement is changing, and virtually every week there are new companies in the mix delivering procurement tools to market.
- Sales is grappling with an ever-growing tech stack that includes end-to-end data handling across an entire customer journey. There is more than ever to see and learn, a reality that applies both for a rep and for a prospect, making a rep’s job of showcasing expertise, elevating a pitch, and tackling objections more nuanced than ever.
A rep’s job of showcasing expertise, elevating a pitch, and tackling objections is more nuanced than ever.
An emphasis on the full deal cycle — Yes, even post-close. The margin between marketing and sales and customer success is shrinking, uniting the efforts of all of these distinct groups as companies seek to increase customer retention.
Result? The table stakes of negotiation are more important: first, weighing the long-term impact of concessions; second, the goal of not creating winners and losers. These customers are the ones the company doesn’t want to just win right now, but keep for the long haul. Goodwill can’t be sacrificed with clumsy, combative negotiations.
Personalization — In the last two years, business rules relaxed. We saw each other at the kitchen table, kids and pets in the background. Even holdouts toward remote work are beginning to accept the inevitability of hybrid arrangements, which inherently creates a more personal work environment. While correlation is not causation, the trend toward more personalized communication is undeniable.
People expect to be addressed by name, to be connected on LinkedIn, to have the professionals they interact with (even in a cold pitch) know something about them, to establish familiarity and warmth. The days of buttoned up and banker’s shoes are almost gone, and in a huge array of business contexts, being more personal — and even knowing each other on a personal level — is the order of the day.
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Smart businesses have proactively responded to these changes, but there is no shortage of change on the horizon.
Here are some of the initiatives leaderboard competitors are investing in:
Balancing short and long-term initiatives — Great leaders don’t overreact to right-now dynamics in the market but have the wisdom to plan for both now and the future. This balance of priority ranges is applied in a measured approach. Both horizons are important: to shore up and improve to meet the demands of the moment and to invest in continuous improvement that will pay dividends in decades to come.
Refining sales strategies and experimenting with new buying processes — The tech revolution has forged new frontiers, making self-service possible at some stages of the buy cycle, even in enterprise B2B contexts. Self-directed buying interactions are favored by many leaders, reducing cost and time. This is a growth opportunity being explored by many businesses and business units.
Professional pathways, training, and growth — The employee experience is an unexpected priority among high-powered executives, but it makes sense. If the epidemic of Quiet Quitting taught leaders anything, it’s that people need some fundamental components to remain engaged in work, namely, a vision for the future and the feeling of making a difference.
The best companies are planning for growth and performance with training. Executives are enacting streamlined processes for helping people upskill, offering instruction, coaching, and more to help them pursue new career heights.
Note: negotiation skills are one of the most crucial areas for a procurement or sales professional to develop. They are directly tied to all-important recurring or renewal revenue, avoiding unnecessary discounts, and improving lifecycle speed.
Learn more about Procurement Negotiation Training here.
Learn more about Sales Negotiation Training here.
The Future of B2B Sales
McKinsey’s 2022 work on “The Big Reframe” — the future of B2B sales — made a vital point: customer expectations are changing. This creates pressure on all parties involved in a deal. People want more for less and will bring stronger arguments to the negotiation table in an attempt to get it.
The onus is on each company to ensure that its people are well-prepared to navigate negotiations that have a win-win outcome.
That’s where RED BEAR comes in.
Our own strength is proven by:
- 10+ years in business
- Worked with 45% of Fortune 500
- 150k+ professionals trained
- Communication in 14 languages
- Delivered workshops on 6 continents
- 10x ROI guaranteed
As your team faces yet another market in change, arm them with the tools they need to succeed.
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