B2B sellers more effective compared to pre-COVID

Congratulations to all you B2B sales and marketing warriors! You’ve made lemonade from the COVID lemons by dramatically improving efficiency of your sales process during the Pandemic.

Three-quarters of B2B sellers say that they are more efficient than prior to COVID, according to a recent McKinsey & Company survey. A third said they were “much more” efficient; 41% said they were “somewhat more” efficient.

Ninety-four percent said their sales organizations were at least as efficient compared to pre-COVID times.


Digital self-serve increasing during consideration phases of purchasing

The trend of buyers doing their own research has accelerated during the Pandemic. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they “identified and researched” new suppliers online in the latest version of the survey, an increase of 13 percentage points compared to the August 2020 edition.

The trend was directionally similar at the “consideration and evaluation” stage. Digital self–serve accounted for 34% of activity in November 2021, an increase of seven percentage points from August 2020.

The three methods of interacting with supplier sales reps were nearly equal in November 2021. Digital self-serve (websites and searches), remote interactions (phone calls, video calls, email) with people, and traditional interactions (in-person meetings, direct mail) all garnered approximately a third of the responses.


“B2B suppliers must continue to adapt to meet this new omnichannel reality. Undoubtedly, shifting to a more varied selling approach is not a straightforward process. But selling organizations can take confidence from the increasing comfort that many of their peers (and their customers) have with omnichannel as an effective way of doing business,” McKinsey concluded.

The 3 martini lunch was a dinosaur; now close to extinction

This McKinsey research documents a continuation of two trends in B2B marketing: omni-channel marketing/sales is accelerating, and sales organizations believe they are more efficient in this remote and self-serve world.

Face-to-face sales was already on its way out prior to the pandemic for a variety of reasons:

  • Meetings and the travel required to get sales reps to those meetings are expensive. Estimates are the average cost of a face-to-face meeting is $400, compared to $50 for a phone call; 
  • We’re all busy. Meeting in-person is an inefficient use of the buyer’s (and seller’s) time;
  • Buying involves many stakeholders. Getting them all in the same room at the same time is nearly impossible;
  • And, perhaps most importantly, buyers are capable of, and prefer conducting, research online… long before contacting a sales person. That has been a trend for many years and is continuing. 

Finally, explaining the value propositions, use cases and benefits of marketing software and services don’t require a face-to-face interaction. For software, users will be in front of a screen. And for services, most of the collaboration will take place remotely.