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Remote & Hybrid Work Has Permanently Changed The Way We Sell B2B

Remember briefcases?  (💼)

If there were ever an international symbol for a salesperson, it would be a briefcase. 

Today, on Google, a popular search query: 

"Do briefcases still exist?" 

The art of the sale has changed dramatically since the advent of the Internet, with smartphones and desktop computers eliminating the need for paper, pen, and binder. 

We used to send quotes by fax, and now it’s all about branded proposals and automated follow-ups. Even sales agreements can be signed digitally

But it was COVID-19 that rocked B2B sales to its core. Forced into remote and hybrid models of getting things done, knowledge workers settled into a new normal. Now, “full-time in-office workers report markedly lower employee experience scores compared to hybrid and full-time remote workers.”

A lot can change in a few years. The briefcase in the back of your closet is collecting dust. And your customers are looking for more ways to buy from you. Let’s look at how to meet them where they are: at home, probably in their sweatpants. 

work from home

How do remote & hybrid work impact B2B sales? 

The people driving sales decisions would rather be at home. 

There’s compelling evidence for this. The Future Forum Pulse, a quarterly survey of over 10,000 knowledge workers from around the world, included these key findings in their July 2022 report: 

  • Only 20% of knowledge workers want to be in the office full-time. That’s the lowest percentage in two years of surveying.
  • Those with rigid work schedules say they are 3x more likely to look for new work in the next year. 
  • Full-time, in-office workers had comparably lower employee experience scores than full-time hybrid and remote workers. 

Employees at companies that described themselves as technology innovators show higher employee experience scores. Categories included productivity, sense of belonging, and overall satisfaction.

The report also describes how “technology innovators are dramatically outpacing laggards on productivity.” 

Since more workers are remote, we can anticipate their adoption of tools to make their work life more manageable. They’re making purchasing decisions from the kitchen table, harnessing more channels to seal the deal. 

As noted by McKinsey authors Donchak, McClatchy, and Stanley in their report “The future of B2B sales is hybrid”:

“Since B2B buyers are using more channels, B2B sellers must, too.” Those adopting tools to streamline internal and sales processes are winning the race. 

The question of when B2B buyers are using those channels represents another dimension of remote and hybrid. Let’s touch quickly on asynchronous work. 

Asynchronous work and B2B sales 

Asynchronous work is “when work happens for different people on their own time,” says Fast Company contributor Kenzo Fong. 

The philosophy of asynchronous work is about removing the structures of when and where work gets done. As long as it gets done well and on time, who cares? 

This mode of thought has expanded workforces across time zones. It has increased accessibility for a more diverse employee base. And for B2B sales, it means business is always open. 

Your prospect could be scoping your website at any time of day from any device. It could be 3 AM, and there they are, building a quote, looking for that beautiful sales proposal to present to their boss on Monday. 

With this sort of 24/7 availability as a requirement for B2B sales, you must ensure a frictionless sales process from every entry point. 

What are the benefits of remote & hybrid work for B2B sales? 

Besides the delight of being mere steps away from your washroom, remote work has many benefits for B2B sales: 

  • Bringing more of the sales funnel online presents more opportunities to track and review performance. More data = more frequent assessment and realignment of sales goals. 
  • The lights stay on all night, baby! The McKinsey report notes, “B2B buyers are increasingly comfortable turning to digital and online channels to meet their purchasing needs,” meaning that sales can occur anytime. Make sure you’ve got secure, real-time credit card processing ready to roll, or you could be missing out. 
  • Asynchronous work schedules bring more intentionality to traditional sales calls and meetings. Here is your opportunity to optimize customer interactions and be more efficient with your time and your people’s time. 
  • With more customers turning to ‘self-serve’ models of taking action on purchasing decisions, B2B vendors can reach more customers and increase sales without ever having to fuel up the car on the company card. 

How to close more deals in the remote work landscape 

Embrace remote work for B2B sales, and reap the rewards. 

1. Move with the customer

“Today’s B2B customers are very clear about what they want from suppliers,” reports Donchak, McClatchy, and Stanley. They want more channels, more convenience, and “a more personalized experience.” This is no time to get stubborn about doing things your way. When your customers think big, you must think bigger. 

Editor’s note: We made something for you. Read [Checklist] Designing a customer-centric sales process for your business.

2. Invest in “systemic changes” 

It will not happen overnight, but it’s time to start somewhere. As described in the McKinsey report, systemic changes allow remote sellers to better “sense and respond to customer needs.” 

These changes can:

  • Shift the way you onboard salespeople
  • Revolutionize your company culture
  • Bring more customers to your digital doorstep. 

The pandemic forced many systemic changes for many organizations; now’s your chance to be intentional about it. 

3. Embrace new tools

The goal is to simplify processes, not add complexity. The right tools can make it happen. Just as your customers are adopting tools to increase efficiencies, so can you improve the sales experience. B2B sales automation boosts productivity and is quickly becoming an industry standard. 

4. Improve team access to the sales process

Asynchronous work forces some good habits. For example, what might have been a weekly Zoom call could become a written bulletin accessible by any employee at any time. Apply the same logic to the sales process. Standardize as much as possible to improve onboarding and set the newest members of your team up for success. Start developing cold call scripts, email templates, and customer scenario documents. Introduce your new sales reps to your quoting software in a gated format. With user permissions and manager approvals, you’re in control of the final product while giving your team the mobility to get comfortable with the framework. 

5. Find the sweet spot

There’s going to be some blend of channels that hits right for your ICP. Building better relationships with B2B customers involves inquiry into how and when they prefer to connect with you. Focus your team on optimizing the ‘sweet spot’ based on customer feedback. 

6. Always be tracking

It’s the new “Always Be Closing.” Moving more of the sales funnel online means more opportunities to track successes and analyze gaps in the process. For tools such as your quoting software, data tracking and reporting is essential for keeping a pulse on the health of your pipeline. 

B2B is ready for the remote work landscape. Are you? 

Stay caught up. Attend a demo to learn how Quoter can help you leverage remote & hybrid with a streamlined quoting process your customers will love.

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