The Nordic B2B market continues to be characterized by an overabundance of competitors. Local as well as global, old hands and new arrivals, all trying to leverage innovative business models and technologies to vie for the attention of a customer base that has been spoilt for choice in terms of availability of products and services.
In this context, the new edition of our Sales Agenda report makes for compelling reading for industry insiders and stakeholders alike. Based on a web-based survey among members of ProSales Sales Excellence PlatformTM, the report seeks to identify the sales and marketing challenges facing the Nordic B2B market. It also highlights the investment strategies being adopted by leaders in the sector to support and secure sales excellence.
Macro Trends: About Customers and Technologies
The empowerment of the buyer has been a persistent trend over the years in this market, as highlighted in the previous edition of Sales Agenda, and this continues to hold true as we enter 2016. But empowered buyers do not necessarily equate to increase in demand, thanks to adverse global macro-economic conditions of instability and uncertainty.
The saturation of suppliers in many B2B markets, while beneficial to the buyers, will adversely affect the sellers, especially their sales and marketing arms, the very components which could spell the difference between success and failure in an uber-competitive market.
The report identifies the polarization of two distinctly opposite buying logics, the complex buying logic and the newer technology-enabled transactional logic which will define business deals in the market.
Technology is poised to become more of an enabler in the sales function of businesses, giving rise to novel cloud-based IT tools for social engagement, business intelligence and analytics as alternatives to and in conjunction with traditional CRM applications.
Challenging Customers and Insufficient Capabilities
Based on the survey results and the overall macro-economic trends, we identify challenges pertaining to the customer and the consequent re-orienting of the sales force capabilities necessitated as the most pernicious. What we describe is something akin to a domino effect in motion, where the empowerment of the buyer renders redundant the existing capabilities of the sales force to add value to their deals. This forces businesses to re-acquaint themselves afresh with their customers to find new ways to add value and then remodel their sales force for this purpose.
Investments in both Proven Solutions and New Solutions
The Sales Agenda results suggest that though businesses still prefer to put their money on proven options like training, events and sales materials, the pressures of the market forces them to explore novel areas like sales coaching and customer analysis in 2016.
The pattern is the same in the IT field - traditional CRM models still account for more than 50% of all investment by B2B companies. But social selling is finding favor, with more and more firms allocating investment into tools that support such emergent sales technologies.
Adaptation is the key to survival in a rapidly evolving and highly competitive B2B market. The business landscape is more and more customer driven and sales forces need to be re-trained and re-equipped to retain a competitive edge. Nordic companies seem to be awakening to the changes in their market, but there is plenty of room for further improvement.
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Ph.D. Markus Ejenäs, ProSales Institute