Why Low Touch Sales is Winning
No one likes getting sold. When was the last time you interacted with a "salesperson" in your consumer life? Outside of a major purchase, odds are it has been a while. When shopping for a new car, you certainly have the option to speak to a salesperson, but it is no longer mandatory. Online services like Carvana have made it possible to complete a fully touchless, self-service car buying experience from your laptop in your sweatpants. This consumer trend is quickly moving into the B2B software space.
Business software buyers now have the option to move away from a sales-led motion towards one where they are in the driver's seat of thier own the end to end buying experience. Software buyers want the option to skip the sales process just like a car buyer wants the option to shop online. A Forrester report shows that 68% of B2B buyers actually prefer doing business online versus with a salesperson (Forrester).
Low (not No) Sales
You've heard of "low code" solutions, now it's time for "low sales" buying experiences. Low touch sales is becoming the norm when purchasing software.
Traditionally, there are two path to engage with buyers. Fully sales-driven and full customer self-service. The future of software buying is not at these extremes. Unlike full self-serve ("no sales"), the low sales go-to-market motion gives prospects the option to decide on how they want to engage with a vendor. When needed, a sales resource is able to step in to facilitate the deal forward or answer questions. This hybrid approach to software selling enables prospects to pick the level of engagement that makes the most sense to them. Low sales means that the default is no longer a scenario where a prospect is forced to sit through painful discovery, BANTing, and canned messaging over a multiple day window before they are able to move forward with a product evaluation.
A Changing Buyer Landscape
To better understand the evolving buyer mentality, let's evaluate the B2B software buyer landscape. Over 45% of B2B technology buyers today are 25-34 years olds, making them the single largest demographic in this space (TrustRadius). This changing workforce comes with changing demands from these millennial buyers. They expect results quickly.
Raised in a technology-driven world where information is available at the click of a button, millennials don't like to waste time. This need for instant gratification translates to the B2B software buying mindset. Growing up with the internet and available social media outlets, this generation is more comfortable communicating digitally than in person (LivePerson). Lastly, this group values independence in the decision making process. They do not like being told what to do or given timelines on how to do it. These new buyers want to operate as independently as possible.
Reducing Time to Product Value
We've established that there is a new generation of buyers out in the market today that doesn't like waiting around and prefers to do things on their own. They are used to a technology experience where time to product value is nearly instantaneous.
The idea of waiting days (and sometimes weeks!) to test out a product is painful to this group.
Time to product value is a metric that is largely ignored in B2B SaaS selling motions. In a study of nearly 100 SaaS sales motions, we found that the average time to value (e.g., when we were able to see working functionality) was 4.33 days between the demo request and the product demo. This means that even if we wanted to, it would take 4 days before we could see working product functionality. Compare this with product experiences millennial buyers see in their B2C lives. If they are looking for the value in an application, they download an app in a matter of seconds, play around with features and functionality, and delete if they don't see the fit for their needs.
The modern software buyer is busy. Buyers have their own jobs, teams, and customers to consider. Committing to a time with a sales representative is not top of mind for buying teams focusing with their own day jobs and priorities. This value, or "wow", moment can be a magical and powerful tool to drive the sale forward. Why hide that moment behind multiple calls and days and days of delay?
Becoming the Trusted Advisor
It is clear that B2B buyers are looking for opportunities to do product exploratory research on their own time. So in a world where sales are on the out and self-service is on the rise, why do B2B sales teams still exist? Sales teams have not certainly not vanished at B2B organizations. While they still provide a vital force to advance the selling motion, the sales role is changing - quickly.
Sales teams are being forced to take on an advisory role rather than the traditional pure sales role. While the end goal is still the same, close the deal, the path to get there has changed. Buyers are considering multiple vendors over months when looking for software options to solve their unique business challenges. Knowing this, B2B sellers need to consult prospects to evaluate the challenge holistically rather than aggressively sell in a single dimension.
This problem-first approach towards selling has manifested in different areas of the sales motion including the titles sellers use. For example, in the technical sales space at many companies, sales engineers have been rebranded as solution engineers or solution consultants to reflect this shift towards as consultative mentality. Sellers now need to fill an advisory role that did not necessarily exist in a sales-first world.
Why Adopt a Low Touch Sales Motion?
With virtual sales as the new norm, this trend away from sales-led motions towards consumerism seems like it will continue into 2021 and well beyond. This surge to self-service powered by marketing technology and product-first tactics has led to a push towards a buyer-driven approach. Your prospects want the option to avoid the sales call and see your product - give it to them.