B2B salespeople spend roughly two-thirds of their time selling in virtual environments—via the Web and telephone—yet most companies haven't adapted their sales skills or content marketing tools to deal with this new reality, according to a new report by Corporate Visions.
Sales and marketing teams are not prepared to sell in virtual environments: 58% of surveyed B2B sales and marketing professionals say they have insufficient (27%), little (10%), or no training (21%) in how to deliver compelling messages in virtual environments.
Only 9% of B2B sales and marketing professionals say they have extensive, relevant training in how to communicate in virtual selling environments.
Below, additional findings from the Corporate Visions Q1 2012 Sales and Marketing Messaging Report, based on a poll of 600 B2B sales and marketing professionals.
Tools, messages are lacking
More than one-half (53%) of sales and marketing professionals lack the necessary tools (e.g., content) for communicating effectively in virtual environments, citing no tools (10%), few tools (11%), or insufficient tools (32%).
Only 13% of B2B sales and marketing professionals say they have readily available, useful tools for communicating in virtual selling environments.
Group audiences prevail in B2B selling
Central to the B2B sales process is communicating with a wide variety of audiences: 64% of B2B sales calls involve more than more than one person, while 42% of calls have high-level executives in attendance and 37% have product experts or engineers in attendance.
Sales environments are often not conducive to to effective selling: 27% of sales calls are hosted in noisy environments.
In addition, virtual selling environments can be more stressful than face-to-face ones, the study notes. Because so much of human communication is conveyed via non-verbal cues, virtual conversations are not natural, exacerbating stress levels.
"The results of this quarter's survey reveal the critical need to provide better content and capabilities for communicating in virtual environments, especially over the Web," said Tim Riesterer, chief strategy and marketing officer of Corporate Visions.
"By arming these teams with the right combination of messages, tools and skills, marketers and salespeople will be able to effectively deliver relevant and differentiated conversations that overcome the challenges of virtual meetings and meet the aggressive growth objectives set by most companies."
About the data: Findings are based on a survey of 600 marketing and sales professionals in B2B businesses, conducted by Corporate Visions in the first quarter of 2012.