Guest post by Dylan Berger.
The pandemic sent millions of employees home to work in March of 2020, and in the two years since, remote jobs have become the new normal. The evolving work environment has especially impacted business-to-business (B2B) organizations, as in-person interactions are often pivotal to success.
So, what does the future of remote work mean for B2B companies? Here are four adjustments they can make to accommodate remote workers and remain competitive in this new era of business.
Establishing Trust and Rapport
Unsurprisingly, it’s more difficult for B2B salespeople to establish trust and rapport with their buyers through phone calls and videoconferences. Businesses must commit more resources to their virtual events to more closely emulate the in-person experience needed to make consistent sales. They should invest in creative tools and networking strategies for their customer service teams.
Start with the small details like providing webcams and professional video filters. These efforts go a long way toward making your staff appear competent and trustworthy. Tools like live chat and instant messaging built rapport between staff and buyers and help fill remote work’s communication void.
Virtual events aren’t going anywhere and may eventually replace in-person conferences (though not any time soon) as the primary networking method. Therefore, companies need to focus on developing different strategies instead of trying to make old practices work in a new setting.
Filling Training Gaps
Most salespeople were trained for in-person sales, making some of their training obsolete in their new work environments. It’s critical to digitize your training to maximize employee engagement. There are a few types of learning that are better suited for remote training:
- Microlearning: Remote work is more nonstop than in-person work, so you should incorporate small learning activities that don’t take much time to complete. This strategy will especially help younger workers and anyone who needs to deal with distractions.
- Adaptive learning: This method utilizes computer algorithms to study a worker’s interactions and learning style, creating a 100% unique structure for each individual and yielding a greater ROI.
- Social learning: Social learning helps employees learn more from each other through discussion forums, blogs, video calls, and other interactive media. People in the same positions can share tips and tricks rather than get all their information from a training program.
You can’t expect your old training structure to perfectly translate to a remote setting. Working from home has more variables, so your programs need to be flexible enough to accommodate every employee’s home and learning style.
Creating a Productive Work Environment
A few elements of a productive remote work environment were mentioned, but it takes more than a webcam and cool videoconferencing features to make remote employees comfortable.
Cloud-based software is essential for employee communication and collaboration. They need to be able to work together without technical difficulties and access their work in seconds for maximum efficiency. Reliable digital tools allow employees to focus on personalizing their workspaces to boost productivity.
Elements like computer monitors, chairs, and keyboards go a long way toward improving a remote work environment. Businesses should provide these resources to support their staff. Still, it’s the employee’s responsibility to create the right mood by blocking out noise, using remote work apps, and finding the right times for breaks. These little things make an at-home work setting successful.
Adapting to More Competition
Some segments of B2B (for example, restaurant suppliers) have traditionally focused on regional sales, but the transition to the digital world has greatly expanded their footprint in a short time. Fewer geographic limitations mean companies face more competition than ever, and every deal is more difficult to close.
It’s vital to keep sales messaging positive and value-focused even in the face of increased competition. Instead, you should learn as much about them as possible and figure out exactly what makes your offering more compelling. Differentiate your brand without disparaging competitors. Stay on the offensive and show your buyers why you’re the best option.
You also need to expand your marketing outreach through social media and other platforms that put the customer in the driver’s seat. Traditional sales and marketing worked best through direct communication methods, but today, you more often have to entice prospective customers to initiate contact after doing their online research. Implement a web presence optimization strategy to get your brand in front of prospects wherever they are searching for information about solutions.
Remote Work Isn’t Going Away
The spread of COVID-19 may be diminishing, but remote work isn’t going anywhere. It will continue to play a bigger role in industries of all kinds, including many B2B segments. This new future means B2B organizations must work harder to adapt and thrive.