The B2B sale has adopted a new model, of American origin. More efficient, it is based on Inside Sellers. Their profile and working methods are presented by Etienne Turion, Webhelp Enterprise CEO.
What are the new challenges in the sale of B2B products and services?
First of all, a first observation: “cold” contact is largely over in B2B. Call campaigns are no longer launched on the basis of a simple list of contacts. The first challenge is therefore to better understand the targets, upstream, in particular through analytically optimized data in order to create a finer segmentation and to carry out highly targeted marketing initiatives.
Second observation: B2B buyers are becoming better informed and connected, thanks to social networks in particular. Better prepared purchases lead to more confidence in remote contacts. As a result, they no longer need to have met and shaken hands with a salesperson to place an order.
Third general observation: B2B brands have clearly understood that the search for profitability also involves active or dormant customers. The value of the installed base being better understood today, the challenge is to address it correctly. Here too, data marketing is essential, the (telephone) contact with an experienced B2B sales representative remains essential for complex or high value-added products or services.
How are current vendors adapted to these issues… or not?
It all depends on the country concerned! In the United States and Great Britain, for example, a new inside sales model has emerged for B2B sales. But it is not sufficiently promoted by schools in France, which explains why there are still too few “modern” salesmen there.
The profile of these new generation salespeople is also unique and has six main characteristics:
1 – An informed career choice for business, because they want to combine individual performance and collaborative work. Helped by a specific working environment, within multilingual hubs in a large city, which could be akin to a competitiveness cluster, where they can flourish in a stimulating atmosphere, even in infrastructures: open-space, large offices, laptops…
2 – Seniority and increased autonomy, two components sought by both salespeople and recruiters, and which allow their commercial fibre to be expressed. And as such, they are paid on a performance basis.
3 – Omnichannel control: the voice channel but also all digital channels, messaging, chat, e-mail, social networks, document sharing, etc. This puts them on the same level as the customers with whom they are in contact and allows them to develop a proximity between them.
4 – Proactivity: they are looking for training and information actions to gain an excellent understanding of the products or services to be promoted, because “we only sell well what we know well” and for sustained collaboration with the field sales teams.
5 – Their age and background, often under 40 years of age, and at least three years of higher education. They are multilingual, with a proven sales background, comfortable managing a P&L.
6 – Their rarity in France, but they are found in cosmopolitan and attractive employment areas, such as Barcelona, with French-speaking or English-speaking natives.
On the brand side, these inside sales or sedentary salesmen are perceived as the most likely to bring an optimal ROI – especially in a context where the sale of services rather than products is flourishing. These companies express increasingly high expectations not only from outsourcing service providers but also from networks of professionals such as AA-ISP, with whom we work closely.
What is the partnership between the American association AA-ISP and the Webhelp group?
It is a mutual contribution. The association brings together inside sales professionals from around the world and allows the discovery and sharing of good practices: it helps to professionalize the approach and makes the link between a vision and its operational implementation. It has a representation in France, the AA-ISP Paris Chapter, created in June 2018, of which I am Chapter officer.
This partnership was built in a natural way, since Webhelp had already identified and even implemented this model outside France. Thanks to this partnership with AA-ISP, we benefit from an ecosystem of experts and companies organized to develop the inside sales model.
How is this inside sales B2B model implemented at Webhelp?
Since 2000, the Webhelp group has set up multilingual hubs dedicated to our B2B inside sales in Barcelona, Athens, Prague, Puerto Rico and Kuala Lumpur in particular.
From these multilingual hubs, we can manage ambitious B2B marketing or sales operations to France and abroad: Europe, the Americas, Asia. This gives us the ability to process local, national or global requests. These premises, their equipment and working atmospheres correspond to the expectations identified for talented sedentary salespeople. As well as their training expectations.
Therefore a specific educational path is offered to our sales representatives via Webhelp University. And this in a dynamic of continuous improvement and long-term collaboration.
We have also invested heavily in digital technology: upstream, by developing data-marketing expertise to supply these salespeople with qualified leads, but also at the individual level by providing salespeople with sales support tools. We have developed:
- a recommendation engine connected to a catalogue of several thousand products,
- an assistant to develop the upsell based on an A.I.
- and we rely on market solutions such as Sales Navigator to prospect on LinkedIn.
We remain pragmatic, technology must first serve the customer experience through the relational intelligence of salespeople.In this context of digital transformation, one element remains unchanged: it is the human relationship that makes the difference.
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