Corona crisis: How Covid-19 changed the B2B sales model

B2B companies have significantly reduced their marketing spend due to the coronavirus outbreak. About 50 percent of companies in Germany did this and 57 percent in the United States. This is shown by a worldwide study by the management consultancy McKinsey, for which 3,600 B2B decision-makers were interviewed. But the changes in the B2B model are more fundamental than just a decrease in the marketing budget and could be longer. With contact restrictions, companies have changed the way they contact their buyers, especially through the use of more digital communication methods. The preference for digital orders is now about 1.5 times higher than for traditional sales interactions; digital self-service methods are now preferred; for example, the ordering of mobile applications has increased by 200 percent. Most of McKinsey’s respondents believe these changes will continue for twelve months or more, with 73 percent responding that their new commercial and launch models are either very likely (20 percent in Germany and 32 percent in the U.S.) or more likely (53 percent in Germany or 47 percent in the USA).

© McKinsey

What changes have occurred in the sales models?

Before the crisis, almost six out of ten (57 percent) companies sold via sales teams in the office or in the field. As expected, this changed with the outbreak of Covid-19. That number is now only one in five (20 percent). There has also been a decrease in the use of back office sales, which is somewhat surprising as these are remote interactions. Half of the companies used this channel before the crisis, now only 39 percent state that they do so. Instead, there has been an increase in online and self-service interactions. The use of online and web support (e.g. chatting with customers via video, website or mobile application) has increased from 63 percent to 73 percent, while the acceptance of e-commerce (direct sales without the involvement of a sales representative) has increased slightly by 47 Percent has grown to 50 percent. As a result, e-commerce accounts for a larger share of revenue: For companies that sell online, e-commerce was responsible for 52 percent of the revenue during the Covid 19 pandemic, compared to 40 percent before the Covid 19 pandemic .

B2B e-commerce and self-service are increasing

An overview of marketing charts shows that sales in B2B e-commerce had increased before Covid-19. According to this, Forrester Research predicted that e-commerce would account for one eighth of B2B sales in the United States this year. A study by Accenture that supports this trend is cited and shows that B2B buyers have already increased both their average number of items per e-commerce purchase and their average order values. Episerver’s data, which is also mentioned, also indicates that B2B buyers cite self-service functionality as the second most important factor in how providers’ websites can be improved. This is supported by data from the McKinsey study. When asked about the three main methods of buying goods and services, the self-service option of using a mobile app was mentioned three times as often this year (37 percent) as in 2019 (11 percent). In contrast, the preferred methods that have fallen behind are calling a sales representative (from 53 percent to 33 percent year over year) and ordering personally from a sales representative (47 percent to 27 percent).

The budgets are being reallocated

According to NewsCred and Sirkin Research, the key areas where marketers expect budgets to shrink due to the Covid 19 pandemic are personal events and conferences (88 percent say so), direct mail and reach (34 percent), digital advertising (27 percent) and premium content (19 percent). The key areas where marketers plan to shift budgets are virtual events (78 percent), web content (72 percent), webinars (67 percent), social media (66 percent), blog content (57 percent), and video production ( 50 percent).

© NewsCred
© NewsCred

SEO is strengthened

According to the study by conductor “The Impact of Covid-19 on Marketing”, marketers expect the corona crisis and the economic turmoil to reduce marketing budgets 65 percent and 86 percent that the marketing goals will be more difficult to achieve. More than half believe that SEO is more important at this time. That’s why investing in digital marketing and SEO comes first, while marketers are preparing to cut back on costly areas like paid media and staff.

© conductor

Content marketing can survive more than just in the new world

Joe Pulizzi is one of the most influential marketing bloggers and founders of the Content Marketing Institute. He mentions eight things content marketers must do now in this crisis:

1. Re-examine your goals

Whether you like it or not, you need to make changes to your content marketing strategy. Today. In almost all cases, the needs and desires of the target groups with whom you communicate have changed. We have to adjust to this in our strategies.

2. Concentrate on your true believers

In such an economic crisis, it is best to focus on a smaller, more profitable target group. If the economy grows again in the future, you can absolutely expand your target group base. Now is the time to focus on the “true believers” in your audience.

3. Check your main content

The focus of the content lies in that area of ​​the Internet in which there is little to no competition, which actually gives a fighter the chance to break through and become relevant.

  • Target group – Can you focus on a super niche audience or an under-served part of your target group?
  • Positioning – It all starts to sound the same. Can you talk about the topic in a different way, name it differently and start a trend?
  • Platform – is there a content gap on a particular platform? Maybe there is no podcast or YouTube series on your topic
  • Topic – let’s be honest. Your topic is probably too broad. Go into the niche even if you think it’s too niche-like. In my opinion, there is no “too large niche”.

4. Develop an internal content marketing initiative

Customer-oriented employees promote customer acquisition and retention. This is true now more than ever. Remember, your employees are always your best marketing asset. Include them in any content you create (via a simple email newsletter for sales reps, a weekly podcast, or a Slack group).

5. Steal audience

The best way to involve influencers is not to ask them to do anything. Just start creating content and publish their efforts and expertise. Build it into your content programs. you will be amazed at how many people are willing to share this type of work. Later, when you have a relationship with the person, you can ask them to help you create original content with you or to be a guest on your podcast. As you build relationships with these key influencers over time, they will share your content and you will attract your target audience to your platforms.

6. Use the best talent in the world

First: Whenever possible, you should involve quality authors. Where can you find them? Freelancers can also be found in the media imprint. You should also search individual LinkedIn pages where authors and journalists have usually notified their community that they are actively looking for work.

Second, we approached media brands with a number of ideas for content and explained that we would like to create content for them free of charge and without advertising for products or services. This worked extremely well, as a number of media companies were extremely open to any kind of content ideas.

7. Prepare for an asset sale

Blogging and influencer sites and media companies have two things we want and need. First, they have the people and processes to consistently produce amazing content. Second, and perhaps more importantly, blogs and media sites have an integrated audience. Keep a list of media brands, blogs, and influencer websites that you may want to buy at some point. First, try to build relationships with key people in these organizations.

8. Start closing social channels

The big experiment is over. Well, it’s time for a spring cleaning. But first you need to check what you’re doing on each social channel for each audience. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have a goal for each channel?
  • Are you achieving your goals (or are you at least going in the right direction)?
  • Are you targeting too many target groups with your social channels? Is your content plan working for this channel? Is it consistent?

After this analysis, you will most likely find that some channels are working well, others are fine, and some are doing absolutely nothing and are consuming resources. What should you do? The social channels that burden resources should be closed and converted into eavesdropping channels (feedback only). Those for whom you are only “OK” must be treated appropriately. That means either investing the right content, the right cadence and the right resources to make them great or to close them.

Remember you don’t have to be wherever your audience is on the social web.

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