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  • Jeff

The Sudden Death of your Sales Heroes

It’s time to plan how the pieces of our business will come back together. It’s clear to most that the operational pieces of your business will not fall back into place the same as before COVID-19. Most notably, your reliable and expensive sales team may never be the same.

I’ve written before on how B2B companies need to think about the new normal in marketing and tactics. A new survey from McKinsey confirms my prediction on the impact to B2B operations and amplifies it to sales as well.

Let’s be concrete. As the CEO of a fintech company, I spent a lot of time in Manhattan with my direct sales team meeting prospects and customers. The now-unthinkable sales day went like this: walk out of the hotel, take the subway, grab Starbucks, go to the clients and meet in a conference room. Grab lunch somewhere. Then more subways, more lobbies, more conference rooms, a dinner. Your business might swap the subway with a drive across LA, but the virus-exposed mission is the same.

Our direct sales team brings in the big deals and earns top dollar commissions. We want them to visit our customers, build relationships, pitch to new groups and upsell the base. But now our customers won’t let them visit. Do you want vendors visiting you? No. It’s hard enough to figure out how to open up safely and have employees in your facilities. Frankly, it’s also going to be the easiest excuse not to meet sales reps. I believe this sea change to our sale reps is permanent.

These points from McKinsey strongly support the change.

  • The importance of digital sales has doubled over that of traditional sales interactions since the onset of COVID-19. The importance is measured for both customer preference and vendor preference on this point.

  • Digital self-serve for order submission is now preferred significantly more by customers. A preference for sales rep involvement is down dramatically.

  • E-commerce share of overall B2B company revenue is up in all countries. Up 29% in the US. Most SaaS products could sell subscriptions online but many don’t have the digital sales and marketing maturity to put it in place.

  • Live chat is now seen as the most beneficial channel for researching suppliers.

And the nail in the coffin is this – the digital model works better! We won’t go back.

  • 65% of B2B decision makers believe the new sales model is as effective or more than prior to COVID-19.

  • 79% are likely to keep the new model. A scant 17% of companies were unlikely to keep the new sales model after a year.

Are you at risk of being outsold?

Is your online presence handled by marketing who carries no sales goal? Are you sticking to your old sales strategy and team, and haven’t deployed an effective online sales presence? If either is yes, then you should be losing sleep. The decisions and investments you make this year will define the competitive landscape for the foreseeable future.


Jeff Curie, the operating principal at The Curie Point, is an expert in B2B SaaS revenue growth. CEOs of B2B companies can leverage the 20 years of experience building growth in software and SaaS companies to plan and execute their digital sales and marketing transformation.

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