3 minutes

In 2017, only about 20 % of industrial companies said they preferred digital interactions and purchases. Currently, that proportion is around 67%, McKinsey says.

B2B sales have seen sweeping changes over the last couple of years amid rising customer demand for more seamless and transparent services.

However, many industrial companies are failing to keep pace with their more commercially focused peers and, as a result, are becoming less competitive in terms of performance and customer services, according to new research from McKinsey and Co.

Per McKinsey, the most successful B2B players employ these tactics:

  • Omnichannel sales teams.
  • Advanced sales technology and automation; data analytics.
  • Hyper personalization.
  • Tailored strategies on third-party marketplaces.
  • Ecommerce excellence across all marketing and sales channels.

McKinsey finds B2B companies use more channels

In 2017, only about 20% of industrial companies said they preferred digital interactions and purchases. Currently, that proportion is around 67%, McKinsey says.

“In 2016, B2B companies had an average of five distinct channels, but today, that figure had risen to 10,” it says.

“Excelling in omnichannel means enabling customers to move easily between channels without losing context or needing to repeat information,” McKinsey says. “Companies that achieve these service levels report increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, faster growth rates, lower costs, and easier tracking and analysis of customer data.”


Automation is a key area of advanced sales technology, as it is critical to optimizing activities that currently account for about two-thirds of sales teams’ time.

“More than 30% of sales tasks and processes are estimated to be partially automatable, from sales planning through lead management, quotation, order management, and post-sales activities,” McKinsey says.

Automation leaders boost revenues and reduce cost to serve, both by as much as 20%. They also foster customer and employee satisfaction.

McKinsey finds that effective automation focuses on four areas

  1. Lead management: Advanced analytics helps teams prioritize leads. Meanwhile, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots contact prospective customers via text or email and schedule follow-up calls at promising times — for example, at the beginning or end of the working day.
  2. Contract drafting: AI tools automate responses to request for proposal (RFP) inquiries, based on a predefined content set.
  3. Invoice generation: Companies use robotic processing automation to process and generate invoices, as well as update databases.
  4. Sales commission planning: Machine learning algorithms provide structural support, for example, to optimize sales commission forecasting, leading up to a 50% decline in time spent on compensation planning.

“The clearest rationale for accelerating the transition to omnichannel go-to-market is that industry players demand it,” McKinsey says.


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