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Metaverse pitches and virtual deals overtake face-to-face buying in B2B

Business to business selling needs a rethink

Technology is rapidly changing the world of B2B sales, with the majority of purchases now done virtually and buyers seeing less need for more formal, in-person ‘sales meetings’. Half of them have had a pitch in the Metaverse.

So finds research from Showpad, a global sales enablement technology company, whose. research, 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– part of Showpad’s State of Selling Survey, which sought feedback from more than 500 UK buyers as part of a global study of 6,000 respondents – found that 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. 

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 explains: “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.”

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