The Big Reframe: Rethinking B2B sales for the digital age

collectif Published by Staff – 27 April 2023

As the business world continues to shift towards digital channels, B2B sales must adapt to keep up with changing customer needs and preferences. In this thought-provoking article from McKinsey & Company, experts explore the challenges facing B2B sales in the digital age and provide a roadmap for success. Through the “Big Reframe” approach, businesses can reframe their thinking around sales and adopt new strategies that prioritize customer experience, personalization, and agility. By embracing emerging technologies and shifting away from traditional sales models, companies can unlock new opportunities for growth and stay ahead of the competition.

So, what exactly is the Big Reframe, and how can companies adopt this new approach to sales? Let’s take a closer look.

At the heart of Big Reframe is a mindset shift that requires you to rethink your entire sales process. Rather than focusing solely on generating revenue and closing deals, Big Reframe companies prioritize their customers’ needs and experiences. This means shifting the focus from “selling” to “serving” Companies that embrace this approach view sales as a process of building long-term relationships with customers, rather than simply closing transactions. By putting the customer first, businesses can create a more personalized and engaging experience that builds trust and loyalty over time.

In addition to prioritizing the customer experience, the Big Reframe approach also involves adopting agile ways of working. Companies that embrace agility are better equipped to respond to new opportunities and challenges, and can stay ahead of the competition in a rapidly evolving business landscape. In the past, B2B sales were typically conducted through a limited number of channels, such as direct sales, partner channels, or online marketplaces. However, as the business landscape continues to evolve, companies must be willing to think outside the box and embrace new channels and methods of engagement. This means instead of relying on a single channel to generate revenue, companies that embrace the Break the Channel mindset seek to engage customers across multiple touchpoints, both online and offline. Through this they are delivering personalized experiences and tailored solutions that meet the unique needs of each customer.

Creating a scalable sales engine is another important aspect which involves developing a system that can generate revenue consistently and predictably over time. This involves developing a clear and effective sales process, investing in the right sales technology, and hiring and developing the right sales talent. It is important to define the steps in the sales process, identifying key metrics, and creating a plan for managing leads and prospects. It also involves investing in tools for lead generation, lead nurturing, and sales automation to support the sales process. Finally, companies must focus on hiring and developing sales talent with the key skills and competencies required for success in the sales role, and developing training and development programs to support these skills. By doing so, companies can create a sustainable business model that can adapt to changing market conditions and drive growth over the long term.

To stay ahead in a changing market, companies need to invest in their people strategy. To achieve this, businesses need to invest in their people strategy and focus on developing a highly skilled and motivated sales team. A good people strategy must include data analytics since it enables businesses to see patterns, trends, and insights in their sales performance. By examining data on sales performance, businesses may identify areas for development, track progress, and alter their sales strategy to stay ahead of the competition. A key element of a successful people strategy is microlearning, which entails breaking learning down into smaller, more manageable chunks that are easier to absorb and recall. Finally, sales coaching which can assist sales managers in assisting sales teams in identifying areas for improvement, setting objectives, and gradually improving their abilities and competencies. By fostering greater motivation and engagement among the sales staff, this strategy can improve performance.

The article highlights the pressing need for talent retention in today’s corporate landscape, as the recent surge in job exits, with over 57 million people quitting their positions in the United States in the last year, has underscored the importance of retaining skilled personnel. While traditional strategies like competitive compensation and incentives remain crucial, businesses are recognizing the value of purpose-driven messaging in attracting and retaining talent. In the sales function, however, there are unique challenges, with a turnover rate of 35% – three times higher than other functions.

To address this talent retention challenge, companies are adopting diverse strategies in the sales function. Some organizations are focusing on recruiting from their existing customer base, bringing in industry experts who already have a deep understanding of customers and may require minimal sales training. Offshoring of sales roles, which is already common in fields like technology and customer service, but less prevalent in sales, is also being considered as a way to tap into new talent pools, facilitate global growth strategies, and potentially expand customer reach by operating in the same time zone as potential customers. Additionally, remote work is being leveraged to enter new domestic markets and diversify sales teams. These strategies allow companies to bring in sales professionals with extensive experience, diverse perspectives from different industries, and advanced skills necessary for success in modern sales.

Furthermore, the article highlights the lack of gender and racial diversity in the sales function, particularly in the US. Data shows that in 2019, the majority (76%) of salespeople in the United States were white, with minimal changes over the past decade. Women accounted for less than one-third of all B2B sales roles and even lower representation (only a quarter) in the technology sector. Moreover, women’s representation at higher organizational levels is even lower, with only 12% of top sales jobs held by women. However, research indicates that women in B2B sales tend to outperform men, with 86% of women regularly achieving quota compared to 78% of men, as reported in a 2020 Harvard Business Review study.

Organizations are leveraging data analytics to measure the effectiveness of their new sales approaches and identify areas for improvement. Embracing change has become imperative for sustained growth in this new era of sales, and there is no better time to initiate these strategies than now.

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