McKinsey Research Confirms Omnichannel is the Leading Approach to B2B Sales

McKinsey Research Confirms Omnichannel is the Leading Approach to B2B Sales

Hybrid sellers expected to be the most common role across sales team by 2024. Effectiveness jumps significantly to 83 percent.

New York and London—March 15, 2021—Eight in ten B2B decision makers believe omnichannel sales is as or more effective than traditional methods, according to McKinsey & Company’s 2021 B2B Pulse survey. Belief in the effectiveness of the new selling model has grown sharply throughout the past year—rising from 54 percent at the start of the pandemic to 83 percent in February 2021. Further, conviction in the ability to acquire net new customers is heightened in certain regions. B2B decision makers in Brazil (74 percent), China (73 percent), and India (68 percent) believe it to be more effective than previous sales models, which compares to those in France (42 percent), the United Kingdom (45 percent), and Germany (46 percent).

The shift to omnichannel accelerated at the onset of the pandemic and has now become the predominant path for B2B sales. As in-person selling became restricted or prohibited, no single type of sales interaction arose as a direct replacement. Instead, buyers prefer a multi-channel mix to any one method on its own, and they chose in-person, remote, and digital self-serve in equal measure. There are regional nuances around the heightened effectiveness for net new customers and upselling strategies. When it came to the ability to support upselling to existing customers, 72 percent of sales representatives in South Korea, 69 percent in Brazil, and 67 percent in China found the model to be more effective than before, compared to their counterparts in Japan (46 percent), Germany (46 percent), and France (39 percent).

Hybrid rep role expected to grow, 85 percent believe it will be the prominent role by 2024

The drive to omnichannel commerce triggered a restructuring in the sales team. Many moved with admirable speed, adapting processes on the fly in order to respond and adapt alongside their customer base With omnichannel now established as the new buying norm, 85 percent of B2B organizations expect the hybrid rep to be the most common sales role in their organization in the next three years, compared to just 28 percent of organizations that have hybrid sales roles today. Hybrid sellers represent a combined team of field and inside sellers that sell mostly via video conference and only occasionally visit customers in-person.

20 percent of buyers willing to spend $500k USD remotely, with remote selling expected to continue

Despite the conventional wisdom that says big-ticket sales require in-person contact, 20 percent of B2B buyers are willing to spend more than $500,000 in a fully remote/digital sales model. And 11 percent would spend more than $1 million. In China, the inclination to spend more than $500,000 on a remote sale jumps to 40 percent.

This enthusiasm for completing big-ticket digital purchases has the propensity to continue, as companies are not expecting in-person selling to continue to be the norm. Most organizations say they will return to in-person selling in 2021, with 90 percent of B2B sellers expecting to hold in-person meetings by the fourth quarter of 2021. However, only 15 percent of organizations expect in-person sales to represent more than 75 percent of their sales interactions.

CAPEX intent jumps 6 percentage points, with tech and marketing the top spend categories

Plans to increase CAPEX budgets have risen 6 percentage points over the past six months, increasing from 41 percent in August 2020 to 47 percent in February 2021. The intent to invest was more prominent in India (63 percent), China (57 percent), and the United States (52 percent), signaling confidence in long-term growth. Managing OPEX costs was split across the board, with 40 percent intent on decreasing, 19 percent intent on maintaining, and 41 percent on growing budgets over the next five years. The biggest OPEX reductions were forecast in France (60 percent), South Korea (52 percent), and UK (48 percent). The top three product categories where spend is increasing are software and telecoms services at 42 percent, IT hardware at 42 percent, and marketing and advertising at 35 percent.

The accelerated transformation of B2B sales into a fully omnichannel approach is now the predominant path. The effectiveness of the omnichannel approach does vary some regionally, which is likely due both to channel maturity and digital preferences in each market. Brazil, for instance, has significant messanger and VoIP penetration and there is strong indication that this channel drove higher effectiveness for omnichannel commerce overall. And this is reflected also in the heightened confidence in the region.

Jennifer Stanley, Partner at McKinsey & Company

The realization that digital channels can play a much bigger role in the B2B sales cycle is creating business confidence about the future. A growing number of businesses want to capitalize on the new opportunities that are now in front of them and made possible by digitized and hybrid ways of selling. This is reinforced by respondents citing their increasing CAPEX budgets, which is often a clear signal for reinvestment in long-term growth.

Dennis Spillecke, Partner at McKinsey & Company

For more insights, see the full report “Omnichannel in B2B sales: The new normal in a year that has been anything but

The B2B Pulse engaged 3,496 B2B decision makers across America, APAC, Europe between February 12–26, 2021. The decision makers were in the following sectors; Advanced Industries; Technology, Media, and Telecom; Global Energy & Materials; Pharma & Medical Products; Travel, Transportation & Logistics; Global Finance, Banking, and Insurance; Consumer/Retail.

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