Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2026, B2B sales organisations that unify commercial strategies and leverage multithreaded commercial strategies will realise revenue growth that outperforms the competition by 50 per cent.
But, to do so, sales leaders will have to rethink their go-to-market strategies with what Gartner calls orchestrated customer engagement to better align to today’s buying behaviours. Orchestrated customer engagement, it says, helps business leaders transition to strategies that can adapt to fast-evolving buyer dynamics, ensuring that sales, marketing, and customer service teams can meet customers where, when, and how they want to be contacted.
“Many sales and commercial leaders believe meeting face to face with customers is the panacea to bolstering commercial performance, especially as they navigate through the pandemic recovery. The harsh reality is that yesterday’s strategy is less effective today and not what the best organisations are doing for tomorrow’s success,” said Dave Egloff, vice president analyst in the Gartner Sales practice. “But there is still hope. Transformative digital investments and technology give commercial leaders more capabilities than ever before to decisively adapt to today’s ever-evolving buying team dynamics and preferences.”
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Gartner found that B2B buyers today spend only 24 per cent of their buying time meeting with potential suppliers. This is being driven by a number of factors, including the increasing amount of credible but conflicting information they find online, the growing number of internal stakeholders on the buying team (now ranging anywhere from 11 to 20 individuals) and the fact that 54 per cent of Millennial customers prefer a rep-free buying experience.
According to Gartner, orchestrated customer engagement consists of the following three fundamental strategies:
- Situational awareness, which is built on the premise that every buying situation is unique but some patterns might repeat across organisations. This is contrary to current practice, in which most sales organisations treat customers largely the same by applying standardised engagement processes that discount each customer’s unique situations. These traditional approaches are less effective because customer situations are increasingly different and the divergences between situation and generalised approaches trigger disconnects between what the playbook suggests and what the buying team actually needs.
- Multithreaded engagement, which acknowledges that customers have more options, more internal stakeholders, and an unpredictable purchase journey. This strategy can help orchestrate the timing, delivery, and messaging, integrating seller and digital experiences across all stakeholders within a buying team. This ultimately helps to expedite consensus on a commercial decision.
- Commercial convergence, which requires strategic and tactical alignment between marketing, sales, and service to create a mindset of value and cooperation across enterprise silos. This practice aligns the strategies, functions, and key performance indicators of commercial stakeholders to enable situational awareness and multithreaded engagement while accelerating revenue generation and reducing cost and complexity But, this, too, goes against current practice, which sees most commercial teams still formulating strategies and executing plans based on functional silos, leading to operational inefficiencies, misaligned priorities, and generic messaging.
“Commercial leaders must focus on making sellers more effective in execution and buyers more confident in their purchasing decisions. This starts when customers’ needs come first,” Egloff said. “Better purchasing decisions occur when coordinated touchpoints unify buying teams. It thrives when marketing, sales, and service organise around a common understanding of customers’ situations and buying team engagement.”