In the world of B2B, businesses and their sales teams are always looking for the competitive advantage. However, in an industry that has been steeped in face-to-face relationship-building for decades, new research from Showpad points to a rising tide of hybridity and digital transformation.
For the first time, analysis of buyer preferences indicates that businesses must embrace the Metaverse and augmented reality in order to get ahead and future-proof the B2B sales experience, while delivering enhanced customer journeys.
Two dimensional, analogue slide decks rarely cut it when selling in advanced medical devices or cutting edge manufacturing equipment. Even for traditionalists, there’s nothing quite like seeing an augmented reality sales presentation that brings to life the intricacies of innovations in medicine, or how a development in heavy machinery can accelerate manufacturing outputs. Such customer immersions can take place at any scale, from the microcosm of an iPad to the theatre of a lecture hall.
But what are the implications for B2B sales? Afterall, Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t believe the Metaverse will become mainstream for another 5-10 years* and Gartner predicts that 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in it by 2026**.
While data might suggest a slow adoption of all things virtual overall, those in B2B buying have appropriated a more forward-thinking approach. Indeed, 51% of those who buy on behalf of their company say they’ve made a purchase after receiving a presentation or demo in the Metaverse or with augmented reality. A further 31% say they have not, but would be interested in doing so. This is where the real potential of augmented reality in sales starts to shine through.
However, for businesses without the budget – or appetite – to embrace augmented reality, it’s still possible to take a digital-first approach to boost sales.
For example, social advertising is financially accessible and scalable, allowing businesses to test and refine what engages potential buyers. It can be used as a key sales channel, targeted at specific demographics – such as those in particular sectors or with certain job roles – depending on the platform.
According to buyers, this is the future. Most expect the role of social media in sales to increase over the next five years. They say that, in just half a decade, they expect that 23% of all purchases will be made through either social media, the Metaverse, or with the aid of augmented reality.
87% of buyers have also told us that they now prefer to be sold to virtually – even those with significant budgets. Indeed, 85% of those responsible for more than £10m in purchases a year say there is now no need for the traditional ‘face-to-face’ meetings with sales reps.
This seems contradictory to the more traditional value that is often placed on facetime. However, while there will always be a place for meetings in person, time is a buyer’s most precious commodity and inexorably technology can drive efficiencies.
There are also dedicated platforms that exist solely to help boost revenue through sales enablement – also available at a range of accessible price points. Showpad, for example, features ‘virtual deal rooms’ to streamline sales journey and provides digital insights to maximise revenue generation and. Indeed, we are also equipped to host augmented reality presentations.
Nearly half of business buyers say that, in the past year, they made the majority of purchases through virtual channels. In this respect, digital engagement isn’t just a possible outcome of the pandemic, or indeed the future – it is already an established way of commercial life.
So, does this mark the death of the salesman? Absolutely not. The human touch will always be required in buying and selling, but companies that employ a digital-first or hybrid approach are seeing clear benefits; 80% of salespeople say that digital sales have boosted revenues over the past year for their company.
Whatever your personal preferences around digitalisation, the Metaverse or social media, if you are in the business of sales, technology is undoubtedly your path to growth.