While the Fourth Industrial Revolution is reinventing the large enterprise, many large B2B sales organizations have lagged behind. Now, all that is changing because B2B customers—influenced by their experiences outside of work—are demanding human-centered experiences, including personalization, speed, and value-based outcomes.

Future of Sales

Rapid innovation is changing the large enterprise. From modernized product development and supply chains to digitized human resources and new ways of sharing information, disruption has engulfed most business functions. Yet large B2B organizations have been slow to evolve, continuing to rely on traditional sales strategies.

At the same time, the preferences, behaviors, and expectations of B2B customers are changing rapidly, influenced by their experiences with B2C brands (think intuitive user interfaces and near-immediate delivery). B2C has led the way with mobile, omnichannel, data access, peer reviews, and on-demand support. These consumers, many of them younger professionals, now seek the same experiences in their business interactions.

Increasingly, B2B buyers are being influenced by their experiences as consumers outside of work. This is coupled with an increasingly complex business reality. Business problems often are now also technology problems, decision makers are inundated with data, and these decisions can impact a greater number of business functions and stakeholders. These influences are shaping what customers buy and how they buy it—the B2B customer is now shifting from buying products and solutions to buying experiences that generate value from the first interaction to long after the order is placed.

B2B customers look for experiences

How do we know this? We conducted a research study and survey to find out how experience buying is impacting B2B sales. We identified companies growing faster than their peers (22 percent vs. 7 percent), but at 50 percent lower cost. We looked at the experiences customers expect, how sales organizations are being impacted, and how sales leaders are responding. We found that B2B customers seek experiences that deliver:

  1. Personalization, including tailored interactions and offerings
  2. Speed, by delivering frictionless buying journeys and enabling self-service
  3. Outcomes, from solving problems through partnership to delivering on promises to realize value

Are you ready for the Future of Sales?

Transforming the sales organization

While our research found that most B2B sales organizations are not positioned today to compete on experiences, some organizations are making successful changes. These sales organizations are transforming their approach to deliver better experiences in five ways:

  1. Reimagine the buying journey from the lens of customer experience (CX) and focus on moments that matter. The starting point is identifying the right customers to target, understanding their unique buying processes, and then designing personalized experiences that make those efforts easier to navigate.
  2. Orchestrate selling motions that utilize both digital and optimal customer-facing roles to deliver the right engagement and interactions. Sales leaders are placing more emphasis on engaging customers earlier in their buying process through top-of-the-funnel digital investments, increasing investments in inside sales and partner channels, developing new hybrid marketing sales roles, and giving customer service and success organizations a prominent role in sales.
  3. Emphasize the seller experience both internally and for channel partners to improve the experiences of customers. Winners are making it easier for sales reps to navigate complicated buying processes by reducing administrative burden and improving speed and ease for critical points of the selling process. By creating a buyer and seller-centric view of the front-office architecture, sales will be enabled to provide more value at each stage and respond faster to customer needs.
  4. Double down on customer and sales analytics to deliver better insights and embed them directly within the sales process along with supporting tools. Winning organizations are integrating insights into decision-making in four key areas: customer insights, partner insights, sales planning, and deal analytics. An insight-driven sales model delivers these insights and analytics to sales and partners at the moment they’re needed by embedding them directly into user-center business processes, enabling sellers to improve customer experiences. Customer data platforms are emerging as the new standard for creating a single view of customer data and interactions that can be used to drive a variety of sales analytics and generate the long-promised, but rarely-delivered single view of the customer.
  5. Modernize the sales operations function to be more strategic, agile, and analytical. Sales operations leaders are creating additional capability for strategic initiatives by automating operational tasks. They are also looking to own the end-to-end strategic planning processes and enabling capabilities needed to break down siloes and enable connected planning between customer segmentation, sales coverage, territory management, quota planning, incentive design, and sales forecasting. Sales operations teams are also building stronger capabilities in data management, data science, machine learning, and agile product development.

Today’s B2B sales organizations are operating in an environment that poses new challenges, but that environment also presents many opportunities. New tools, technologies, and techniques offer great possibilities for increasing sales reach, decreasing sales cost, and driving differentiated experiences. Crafting a B2B experience that’s human-centered and future-ready will transform today’s sales organizations and better equip them to serve today’s customers.

Read more in Experience Selling: The Future of B2B Sales.


Paul Vinogradov is a Principal at Deloitte Digital in Sales Transformation and leads Deloitte’s Future of B2B Sales Research.

Harry Datwani is a Principal at Deloitte Digital and leads the US Sales Transformation offering that focuses on reimagining sales and sales operations to drive profitable growth.

Abe Awasthi is a leader in Deloitte Digital’s Technology practice focused on go-to-market strategy and operations.