Welcome to 2022.
After almost two years into the pandemic, the end is nowhere in sight. COVID numbers are off the charts and the constantly slipping ‘return to office’ dates have been replaced with “we’ll get back to you.”
As workers continue to clock-in from remote locations, it’s no surprise organizations are pouring more money into tools and technologies that help remote workers be more productive. Cases in point: Microsoft Teams, which has exceeded 250 million users, Zoom, which has reached 300 million daily meeting participants, and Slack, whose popularity led to its sale to Salesforce in 2021 for $27.7B. By now, even the laziest technophobes are comfortable using these new tools. By keeping people connected while working apart, these tools just scratch the surface of what can be done to help remote workers.
Now, as remote working becomes an enduring reality, businesses are starting to invest strategically in solutions that help workers execute key business processes when co-workers aren’t co-located in the same office.
Since sales is the fuel that powers business, it isn’t surprising to see many organizations invest in new sales-enablement platform tools that streamline and automate the sales process. These tools help deliver the right content to prospects at the appropriate time, help train salespeople, and help analyze and optimize the prospects’ buying journey.
These tools fill a void because B2B sales processes have undergone a palpable change during the pandemic. Prospective buyers, today self-educate about products and services, while in the past, customers relied on salespeople to provide such information. The change is significant. A Forrester Research found that “the number of buying interactions during the pandemic jumped from 17 to 27, where interactions reflect one individual’s buying journey to obtain information about competing offerings or providers.
While it’s now easy to find information about products and services, buyers are increasingly confused by contradictory information coming from analysts, review sites, and competing vendors. With no one to help make sense of this ‘information overload’, buyers experience what psychologist Barry Schwartz calls ‘the paradox of choice,’ namely, a situation when the individual has too many choices to make their mind. The result? Buyer paralysis where the buyer does nothing, or worse, they pick the wrong product. This can be catastrophic because ‘picking wrong’ has a huge impact on business. A Gartner report found that “customers who prefer rep-free buying, experience a 23% higher purchase regret.”
It is obvious that humans will continue to be indispensable during the buying process… at the right junctions. For example, humans can respond to specific customer requirements while providing critical context needed for buyers to understand which product or service best serves their needs. As such, we can expect to see new products that combine the best of automated sales-enablement tools and (human) collaboration tools, like Microsoft Teams.
The human touch is particularly critical in closing complex B2B sales, because these situations call for quick, high-quality responses to buyer’s requests and concerns. But even the best salespeople don’t have all the answers. They know to reach out to colleagues for help. But with colleagues working across multiple time zones, it is not always easy to get answers quickly. So smart remote sales teams are looking for ways to work together better… to close more business, faster.
That’s why the soon to be released harmon.ie Accord Community Edition (ACE) is so exciting for sales teams. Slated for release later in H1 2022, ACE is uniquely designed to help salespeople huddle together in a ‘virtual account team room’ – to ask and answer questions, to get advice, and to collaborate on account strategy – all from Microsoft Teams. More details will be available soon.
If you are a sales or account manager who needs to improve how your remote team works together, apply for early access by becoming an ACE Design Partner.