ChannelLife Australia logo
Industry insider news for Australia's technology resellers
Story image

Sales professionals struggling to be relevant in a hybrid 'virtual' selling world

By Ryan Morris-Reade
Wed 1 Dec 2021

The rapid acceleration of hybrid work due to the COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound long-term impact on buyer and seller relationships, according to a new report. 

The Sales Agility Report from Wyda says the impact is forcing a re-think on the effectiveness of traditional sales training. 

The pandemic has dramatically impacted how buyers and sellers engage, bringing virtual selling skills to the fore. But another significant trend is the self-sufficiency of buyers to independently research, explore and understand the products and solutions they are interested in purchasing, further reducing the influence of a 'sales' pitch.

"Over time, sales professionals who rely heavily on their ability to match customers in the market to solution use cases are becoming less valuable to buyers and less effective as sellers," says Wyda founder and chief executive, and the report's author, Kate Kesbyo

"Some sales professionals have been able to mask this through physical in-person relationships, until the pandemic stripped away the coffee meeting and exposed a big skill gap," she says.

The Sales Agility Report shows fundamental changes in buyer dynamics, the need to offer greater insights and better understand the customer's business, rather than just talking about products or relying on relationships.

"Sellers that don't adapt fast in this new environment are being exposed," says Kesby.

"Customers are still buying, so sellers who can make it clear how they are relevant as partners and how that fuels growth will get attention and ultimately the business."

According to the report, the top three skills to differentiate high-performing sales professionals are:

  • Offering and articulating business insights to the C-Suite and Executives: Only 49% of the respondents felt confident that their sales professionals had these skills, 28% lacked confidence that their training provided this capability, with the remaining 23% 'uncertain'.
  • Understanding customers' business context: Traditional sales education and training tools struggle in key areas. A staggering 88% agree that traditional sales methodologies need to be combined with more context-specific skills. This means a better way for sales professionals to learn, target and articulate in the current market. Further, 95% want to see an increased focus on 'sales agility' in their training and education programmes.
  • Selling on business value, not focusing on product features and attributes: While respondents' preferred training choice is classroom-based instructor-led, interestingly, 30% said they have difficulty changing their behaviour after training. This issue of 'inertia' is even more pronounced amongst companies with 10,000+ employees, with 41% citing it as a problem.

"As one respondent remarked, the agile salesperson needs to use an array of information and people, both internal and third-party, to drive customer insights and trust," says Kesby.

"This point was illustrated by the fact that 95% of respondents agreed that creating greater agility in sales engagement and execution is required."

Virtual Selling

Remote or hybrid workplaces are now the norm, and many buyers and decision-makers perform their roles in a time-poor environment where virtual meetings and engagements far outweigh face-to-face meetings.

"Sales professionals who previously relied on relationships driven by physical meetings, such as lunches or an event, intertwined with sales stories and pitches, are finding the pandemic has taken that away," says Kesby.

"In a virtual selling world where buyers are remote, juggling additional commitments and are over-extended pivoting their own business, sales professionals need to have less reliance on relationships and a more compelling business reason for meetings to cut through the noise and build credibility and trust."

Key Challenges

The report found that 60% of all respondents use a formal sales methodology. But the top three challenges in the sales environment were the increase in virtual selling, having to speak to multiple stakeholders, and the competitive pressure, which requires them to better articulate business value in their interactions.

Less than half (40%) held a positive view that their company was effective at engaging C-Suite executives.

"The three most common barriers for sales professionals engaging customer executives are the difficulty scheduling meetings, the lack of an established relationship, and being blocked by gatekeepers, which we all present pre-pandemic," says Kesby.

"To overcome these challenges, sales professionals must offer and articulate business insights to senior executives, understanding customers' business situations and selling on business value, rather than product features and attributes," she says.

The Path Forward

The pandemic has caused significant disruption to business operations, and the sales engagement process is no different. As organisations pivoted to a hybrid work model with remote employees, we have seen the importance of virtual selling and the articulation of customer business-centric sales messaging significantly increase.

"Successful selling in this hybrid world requires an agile set of skills to overcome the same blockers as pre-pandemic engagements," says Kesby. 

"But our data shows us that almost one in two sales professionals lacks the confidence to articulate business issues and solutions in this changing sales environment," she says.

Kesby says many organisations are suffering due to assuming a pre-existing level of foundational knowledge that simply does not exist, or in cases where it does, is not always applied consistently.

"The research tells us sales professionals are seeking a new educational approach that amplifies traditional sales methodologies with more dynamic, contextual sales education that builds accountability, responsibility and agility."

 
 

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Bitdefender, Cohesity, Fortinet & MODIFI
We round up all job appointments from June 27-30, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
SOTI
Australian consumers loyal to retailers who deliver speed and visibility
SOTI finds extensive order visibility and speed are the most important factors for turning one-off customers into loyal, long-term buyers.
Story image
Online shopping
Consumers want speed, visibility in return for brand loyalty
72% of Australian shoppers want complete online order visibility and 63% are loyal to retailers who deliver goods the fastest.
Story image
Robotics
Evonik relies on Getac F110 tablet to control autonomous robot
The aim of the project is to evaluate the practicality of an automated robotic maintenance and inspection solution in the chemical industry.
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: 16GB PNY XLR8 Gaming EPIC-X 3600MHz DDR4
PNY sent over its 16GB XLR8 Gaming EPIC-X 3600MHz CL16 DDR4 module kit for testing. The kit contains two 8GB dual-channel modules with RGB lighting.
Story image
Public Cloud
Public cloud services revenues top $400 billion in 2021
"For the next several years, leading cloud providers will play a critical role in helping enterprises navigate the current storms of disruption."
Story image
Cyber Criminal
Identity and access: the fight is on
Blue team defenders are used to protecting our data, applications, and users with access controls and other security mechanisms, which is why attacks like this are especially challenging when they target identity and access control systems.
Story image
Hybrid Cloud
HPE GreenLake advances hybrid cloud experience with new services
"The innovations unveiled today further build on our vision to provide the market with an unmatched platform to spur innovation and drive transformation.”
Story image
Cloudian
Cloudian, Vertica to deliver on-premise data warehouse platform
"We’re enabling our customers to capitalise on a leading object storage platform and maximise the value of their digital assets.”
Story image
HP Inc
Firmware attacks significant threat in age of hybrid work
Changing workforce dynamics are creating new challenges for IT teams around firmware security, according to new research.
Story image
Cybersecurity
FIDO Alliance releases guidelines for optimising UX with FIDO Security Keys
The new guidelines aim to accelerate multi-factor authentication deployment and adoption with FIDO security keys.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Google Cloud launches new Digital Accelerator bundles for Aussie SMBs
The new bundles are designed to help Australian small and medium-sized businesses embrace digital transformation and take their businesses online.
Story image
Ransomware
Secureworks reveals new information on BRONZE STARLIGHT threat group
New research from Secureworks has uncovered new information on the Chinese threat group BRONZE STARLIGHT and how they are using targeted ransomware to initiate complicated attacks.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zscaler launches co-located data centres in Canberra and Auckland
The investment will offer public and private sector enterprises greater resilience in support of their zero trust cybersecurity posture.
Productivity
Discover the 5 ways your ERP may be letting you down. Is your current system outdated, difficult to manage, and costing you a fortune?
Link image
Story image
Citrix
The best ways to attract young talent during labour shortages
New research from Citrix reveals hybrid working and ventures into the metaverse are top of mind for Gen Z workers.
Story image
Microsoft
SAS wins Microsoft ISV 2022 Partner of the Year award
"We formed the SAS and Microsoft strategic partnership with a shared goal of making it easier for customers to drive better decisions in the cloud."
Story image
Enterprise Resource Planning / ERP
Five ways your ERP is letting you down and why its time for a change
Wiise explains while moving to a new system may seem daunting, the truth is that legacy systems could be holding your business back.
Story image
BitTitan
How to achieve your monthly recurring revenue goals
Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) is the ultimate goal, the most important issue on which anyone in the IT channel should focus.
Story image
MSP
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CyberArk
Olly Stimpson joins us today to discuss the importance of MSP programmes and how MSP partners are experiencing success with CyberArk.
Story image
WatchGuard Technologies
Ransomware volume doubled 2021 total by end of Q1 2022
Ransomware detections in the first quarter of this year doubled the total volume reported for 2021, according to a new report. 
Story image
New Relic
New Relic looks to observability market with new partner programme
New Relic has announced the availability of New Relic Partner Stack, an enhanced programme expanding New Relic’s commitment to partners.
Story image
Oracle Cloud
Commvault, Oracle to deliver Metallic Data Management as a Service
"We are excited to partner with Commvault and enable our customers to restore and recover their most mission-critical cloud data."
Story image
Civil Defence
OutSystems platform chosen as part of ADF contract
"To be included in this project is a reflection of our ability to deliver secure, modern digital outcomes for defence at an incredible pace."
Story image
Accounting
Four factors to consider when choosing the right job accounting solution
Progressive job-based businesses can achieve success by strengthening their ability to quantify every cost attributable to the delivery of an outcome for a customer.
Story image
Wiise
Four things wholesale distributors need to consider for FY2023
In a post-pandemic world, there are many things for a distribution business to juggle. ERP solutions company Wiise narrows down what companies should focus on.
Story image
Internet of Things
ManageEngine wins big in IDC MarketScape assessment
ManageEngine's Endpoint Central service has been recognised as a leader by IDC MarketScape in several categories including Internet of Things device deployments and UEM software for SMEs.
Story image
Samsung
Monitors are an excellent incentive for getting employees back
The pandemic has taught us that hybrid working is a lot easier than we would’ve thought, so how can the office be made to feel as comfortable as home? The answer could be staring you in the face right now.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zero trust security adoption rises 27% in just two years
A survey of WAN managers has revealed that multi-factor authentication and single sign-on are the top zero trust features implemented.
Story image
Sustainability
Honeywell launches new carbon energy management software for buildings
The new Carbon & Energy Management service allows building owners to track and optimise energy performance against carbon reduction goals, down to a device or asset level.
Story image
Data
MYOB improves data visibility and user access with Snowflake
"Solutions such as Snowflake allow us to better understand our customers and make evidence-based decisions on what features work best for them."
Project management
Discover the 4 crucial factors for choosing the right job-costing solution. Is your team struggling to cost jobs and keep projects running on budget?
Link image
Story image
Hybrid workforce
Why hybrid working is here to stay and how to ace it
Citrix's new report reveals hybrid workers are more productive and engaged at work than their office and completely remote counterparts.
Story image
Cryptocurrency
NOWPayments launches new service to analyse cryptocurrency fees
NOWPayments has launched a new network fee optimisation solution that analyses current network fees and picks the most profitable option out of the client's payout wallets.
Story image
Design
Hands-on review: Phillips Hue starter kit
The set-up was one of the simplest I have ever had to do. It is also where the products shine. I was able to connect the bridge, the three lightbulbs and the strip within 10 min.
Story image
Salesforce
Data crucial to capture shoppers' wallets post-COVID
First-party data strategies key to driving personalisation, customer satisfaction, and long-lasting relationships according to a new report.
Story image
State Library of Victoria
State Library of Victoria entrusts Oracle support and security to Rimini Street
“Our finance team are very happy with the support and security that Rimini Street provides, which keeps our assets and our customers secure."
Digital Transformation
Discover the 5 signs your business is ready for a cloud-based ERP. Is your business being left behind as more of your competitors switch to the cloud?
Link image
Story image
Payroll
How New South Wales state departments achieved cloud migration success
State departments in New South Wales are heading to the cloud to achieve better workflow solutions, and one company is paving the way for their success.
Supply chain
Discover the 4 critical priorities for wholesale distribution businesses in FY23. Are you worried about how supply chain issues may affect your business in 2023?
Link image
Story image
Microsoft
ASI Solutions named finalist of Microsoft Surface Partner of the Year
"ASI Solutions has a strong Microsoft focus, building value by helping customers maximise investment in modern workplace solutions."
Story image
Dicker Data
EXCLUSIVE: Why women in IT makes good business sense - Dicker Data
The Federal government wants to bolster female participation in the tech industry to at least 40% by 2030. Here's how one homegrown Australian company has already reached that goal.
Story image
Data Protection
Five signs your business is ready to move to the cloud
Many organisations are thinking about moving to the cloud. But what are the signs you are ready, and what are the reasons to move?
Story image
Cybersecurity
Email threats spike 101%, remains a top attack vector
"Each year we see innovation in the threat landscape, but each year email remains a major threat to organisations."