Virtual deals overtake face-to-face buying, with the role of the ‘salesperson’ fundamentally shifting post-pandemic
- 9 in 10 say they now prefer to be sold to virtually instead of in face-to-face meetings
- Almost half of those responsible for buying within businesses say that, in the past year, they made the majority of purchases through virtual channels
- Buyers believe that social media sales will account for a quarter of all B2B purchases within five years
- Over half (51%) have made a business purchase after receiving a demo in the Metaverse or with augmented reality, whilst 63% have purchased something for their company after seeing it on social media
LONDON – 07 July, 2022 – Technology is rapidly changing the traditional industry of business sales, with the majority of purchases now done virtually and buyers seeing less need for more formal, in-person ‘sales meetings’.
This is according to new research from Showpad, the global leader in sales enablement technology. The research, which captured insights from those involved in the buying process for UK businesses*, found that nine in ten buyers (87%) say they now prefer to be sold-to virtually, forgoing traditional face-to-face sales meetings.
Even amongst those who are responsible for more than £10m in purchases a year for their business, 85% say there is now no need for the traditional ‘face-to-face’ meeting with a sales representative. Instead, many are leveraging the tech advantage to drive efficiencies in their buyer journeys.
Nearly half of business buyers (46%) say that in the past year, they made the majority of purchases through virtual channels, with 38% saying that the majority of deals still involved an in-person meeting. However, the overall decline for in-person meetings means that other sales channels have grown in popularity.
B2C purchasing trends set to shape B2B market
The data from Showpad – part of its State of Selling Survey, which sought feedback from over 500 UK buyers as part of a global study of 6,000 respondents – found that over half (51%) have made a business purchase after receiving a presentation or demo in the Metaverse or with augmented reality. Meanwhile 31% say they have not, but would be interested to do so, showing that overall, more than eight in ten are using, or open to using, technologies that have so far been favoured in the B2C arena.
As well as emerging technology such as the Metaverse, social media platforms are playing an ever-increasing role in business sales. Nearly two thirds of buyers (63%) say they have purchased something for their company after seeing it on social media – 42% of whom say they have done so in the past month.
Of the social channels that are enabling business sales, the research has revealed that professional social media networks are falling behind consumer-led platforms for purchases; Facebook (52%), Instagram (44%) and TikTok (39%) are the platforms used most frequently to make business purchases, while LinkedIn lags at 28%.
The increasing importance of social media in B2B sales is only set to grow: three quarters of buyers (74%) expect the role of social media in sales to increase over the next five years. In fact, those surveyed expect 23% of all purchases will be made through either social media, the Metaverse, or with the aid of augmented reality by the year 2027.
Still a time and a place for face-to-face
The nature of sales is shifting quickly, but the research suggests any suppositions around the ‘death of the traditional salesperson’ are premature. Whilst there is a clear shift towards virtual selling across the UK business community as a whole, the research suggests that there will always be a place for field sales enabled by the traveling salesperson – especially for those selling physical products rather than digital products and services. Indeed, 54% say that they still like to see physical products before buying them, with a quarter (24%) saying they still like an in-person demo in their office.
Drawbacks of traditional sales tactics
However, respondents did highlight a number of drawbacks that they encounter when dealing with the traditional salesperson – with buyers saying that those in traditional sales roles meet their needs less than half the time (49%). Just three percent of those surveyed state that their sales representatives always meet their needs, suggesting that businesses need to rely harder on technology to fill an important gap in the sales funnel and create a well rounded hybrid of digital and in-person selling. This is nowhere more prevalent than in the rise of asynchronous selling, in which tech facilitates a personalised sales experience without the need to navigate diaries and timezones.
Business buyers went further in highlighting certain irritations with the traditional sales tactics, with 47% highlighting issues with persistent sellers not taking ‘no’ for an answer, 29% pointing to salespeople not knowing their products, and 28% citing issues with arrogance or overconfidence on the part of the salesperson. This is where sales coaching can play a vital role to ensure the sales experience is buyer-led and collaborative.
Hendrik Isebaert, CEO, Showpad said: “The sales rep is a longstanding and vital part of the business community, and sales and revenue generation are at the heart of most businesses. But the role of salespeople is changing rapidly. The traditional image of motorway warriors driving hundreds of miles a day for meetings, wining and dining clients, or spending hours cold calling prospects is no longer how the majority of sales are made. However, there will always be a place for this – some buyers no doubt enjoy and favour these interactions and, when it comes to physical products, buyers will often want to get hands-on with what they are buying. This reinforces the need for tailored, buyer-centric interactions when striving to deliver optimal buyer experiences.
“But the role of technology – no doubt hastened by the pandemic – is offering benefits for both buyers and sellers alike, leading to a more blended, hybrid approach to selling which involves both digital and face-to-face interactions. For those in the business of sales, if you don’t offer the channels and methods through which buyers want to purchase today and in the future, while taking advantage of the efficiencies technology can offer, there is a danger of falling behind.”
Showpad – which provides teams with a modern sales enablement solution for maximising hybrid sales – undertook the State of Selling research in order to understand the rapidly evolving attitudes in and around business sales. The Showpad platform enables digital sales and also provides digital insights to enable more hybrid sales experiences.
Notes to Editors:
To learn more about Showpad and follow along with what’s to come in 2022, visit: https://www.showpad.com/.
Research conducted by Mortar Research in June 2022 amongst 524 UK employees who make purchases on behalf of their company.
*Buyers are defined as those who are or have been a buyer of a product or service on behalf of their employer in the past two years.
Founded in 2011, Showpad is a global leader in sales enablement technology. As an architect of the sales enablement category, Showpad provides B2B revenue teams with a modern solution that maximizes value and volume in hybrid sales. Supported by a unified platform that combines both content and coaching, customer-facing teams can access the required content, skills, knowledge, and tools all in one place to deliver impactful conversations and a differentiated, buyer-centric experience.
Partnering with organizations of all sizes and maturity levels in more than 50 countries, Showpad supports strategic alignment and efficiency across revenue teams. From SMEs to enterprise brands such as Dow, GE, Honeywell, Johnson & Johnson and Coca-Cola European Partners, Showpad is a proven revenue accelerator.
Dual-headquartered in Chicago, IL and Ghent, Belgium, Showpad is powered by a global workforce. For more information, visit showpad.com.