Post-Covid Playbook, Part 2: Sales

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the way businesses operate has been impacted significantly, and B2B sales are no exception. After time adjusting to the need to switch to a virtual landscape, these sales have now accepted the switch. Now, 96% of B2B sales teams have fully or partially switched to remote selling and 79% of B2B companies believe they are likely to maintain these virtual shifts for 12 months or longer.


Remote Working is Here to Stay


While society is beginning to return to normalcy, it is apparent that one major change is here to stay: remote working. According to a survey conducted by Gartner, more than 75% of buyers and sellers in B2B transactions would rather use virtual human interactions than in person. A big reason why there is such a favorable opinion on remote interactions is due to the ease of acquiring information, placing orders, and arranging services for buyers and customers.

After a survey of 50 chief strategy officers was compiled, there are a few key takeaways regarding the lasting impact of the global pandemic. One is the ability to use virtual communication rather than in-person meetings. Since April 2020, revenue from video-related interactions has seen an increase of 69%, with apps like Zoom, WebEx, and Microsoft Teams enables companies to operate with ease. This has lead to e-commerce and videoconferencing making up 43% of B2B sales, which is more than any other method of communication. This is clearly here to stay due to the success of the switch, but customers also have expressed their preference for video chats over phone calls. The graph provided below shows that access to both Senior Customer Stakeholders and Junior Customer Stakeholders has increased.

Sources: Gartner

Now, 96% of B2B sales teams have fully or partially switched to remote selling and 79% of B2B companies believe they are likely to maintain these virtual shifts for 12 months or longer.


Video Calls are Here to Stay


Video calls are clearly here to stay, due to the success of the switch, but customers also have expressed their preference for video chats over phone calls. In the graph provided below by Mckinsey's study, it is evident how favorable both customers and sales teams view digital interactions, with an emphasis on video chats rather than phone calls or online chats. While there was a small increase in digital interactions with sales reps through online chats, the drastic rise in video conferencing and the subsequent drop of traditional in-person meetings displays the dominance of online sales. In all four situations provided for respondents, more than ¾ of them prefer video over the phone in every category.

Sources: Mckinsey


This rise in telecommunication has led to more field sellers moving to remote work. According to the study, This number is continuously rising while those who are uncertain on-field sales have fallen. Now that teams are getting acclimated with online work, CSO’s have seen an increase in activity. More calls have been made per day, due to switching sales specialists to virtual, according to the aforementioned CSO’s.

It is evident how favorable both customers and sales teams view digital interactions, with an emphasis on video chats rather than phone calls or online chats.

Despite the large disturbance initially caused by COVID-19 in the workplace, many sales leaders are confident that their employees have maintained their motivation throughout the entire process. After an increase of organizations giving quota relief to sales associates in June, there was an even greater increase in July and August of companies that committed to not adjusting their quota. While ⅓ of companies did make adjustments, most of these situations were due to extenuating circumstances.


Since the beginning of 2021, Sales Kick Offs, which is a meeting with the whole sales team to establish your strategy and motivate the team, have been moving to a virtual setting. Award trips are more in flux, but few sales leaders have adjusted their compensation plans this far into the pandemic. SPIFs, also known as Sales Performance Incentive Funds, help boost immediate results. These SPIFs are what most compensation actions are centered around, and that is not expected to change since sales targets usually go unaffected.


How COVID-19 Could Be An Opportunity to Boost Sales Using Competitive Intelligence


Much has been said and written about how this challenging COVID-19 era requires us to examine many aspects of our business activities and make adjustments, indicating how companies need to react to profound economic changes caused by COVID-19. However, we think that there are massive opportunities in this as well.

When trying to prepare an analysis on what’s going on between a competitor and your potential customer, can you really rely on the intelligence provided by your sales team? In some cases, your sales team members will have strong knowledge of the relationship, but most of them lose touch with clients after an account has been lost or even before a major RFP deadline. Even more importantly, is their intelligence unbiased? Our experience shows that the clear answer is: No.

You need the true views of your customers towards your company. Account Intelligence is doing exactly that, and in the COVID era, we think, is a good opportunity to try out this service and eventually win new key accounts.

The key is to ask your questions in the right way, at the right level of detail to the right executive. So, instead of asking a generic question such as:

  • “What are the strengths and weaknesses of Vendor X in the analytics space?”

  • “What are your expectations on IT Infrastructure requirements for your big data deployment?”

You also are wanting to ask more specific questions, such as:

  • “What selection criteria for the data warehouse are important to you when selecting analytics vendors?”

  • “How do you rate various vendors on their Map, Transform, and Cleanse approaches to building their data model?”

And here are the good news: Executives are much more available to engage with during the COVID-19 and the Post-COVID era. Our statistics show that since April 2020 the response rate that we are seeing is much higher than usual. People are working from home, and generally, the downtime created a slower day routine, so the fact is: Executives are much more responsive.