B2B Sales Trends: Customer Experience, Automation and Digital Transformation

In the past few years, B2B sales teams have been digitally transforming, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated that trajectory. B2B sales are essential to business growth, and sales teams have had to learn how to operate in a purely remote environment and adapt to new technology. A new research report from DocuSign surveyed more than 750 sales professional to identify the most recent B2B sales trends and find out how selling processes and priorities have been evolving. 

Here’s an overview of some of the key findings:

The State of Business to Business Sales

In the past 12 months, 74% of UK respondents surveyed hit their sales targets. However, only 14% exceeded their targets. This suggests there is plenty of potential for teams to improve how they are operating. Fifty percent of UK respondents said that the pandemic had increased their urgency to make administrative processes more efficient, and 58% said it had increased the urgency of switching to virtual sales as a priority. These responses indicate that there is a requirement for teams to improve how they are operating and to close deals quickly in a more digital and remote selling environment. 

Sales team collaboration with other departments

In addition to the increasing priority of virtual work and the need to reduce administrative tasks, sales teams have had to deal with the challenge of managing communication across several departments. The research discovered that:

  • 81% of respondents experienced difficulty collaborating due to manual processes 
  • 50% said that they experienced a lack of tools, technology and systems that enabled remote working.

The research found that sales teams in the UK found sales operations, procurement, legal, finance and marketing the most challenging to collaborate with. Here are some of the factors that make working with other departments challenging:

  • 53% said too many manual tasks were required during the sales process
  • 51% said there were unclear responsibilities along the contract approval process.
  • 48% said contracts and agreements were not prepared properly

This is particularly problematic because any large deal usually required collaboration with legal, procurement and finance. Effective collaboration is essential to a frictionless experience for customers. 

Sales Teams Priorities & KPI’s

Despite the tumultuous conditions that the COVID-19 pandemic brought and the challenges it magnified, sales teams in the UK state revenue is their top priority. 

Top KPIs for UK B2B Sales Teams

  • 71% Sales Revenue
  • 44% Gross/Net Profit Margin
  • 43% Sales Quota Attainment
  • 41% Customer Acquisition Cost
  • 38% Lead Progression (moving a lead through the funnel)
  • 36 % Sales velocity (time from prospect identification to close)
  • 26% Lifetime Value (LTV)
  • 15% Win rates

Sales teams in the UK aren’t relying on win rate as a critical metric, prioritising Customer Acquisition Costs, achievement of lead progression after-sales revenue and profit.

Evolving B2B sales priorities & trends

The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies in the UK to work remotely, and only 13% of respondents said they were very prepared for this change. Sales leaders are now focussing on adapting processes and technology to adjust for the future. This year’s research found that priorities include outperforming the competition, closing more deals and improving response rates from prospects. Improving customer experience is also one of the key priorities for sales teams in the UK, and 64% say it will become more of a priority in the next five years.  Survey respondents suggested that providing a better customer experience is one of the most important priorities for sales.

  • 45% of those surveyed said that customer experience is a key trend affecting the sales function. 
  • 48% plan to change their sales methods in response to trends in sales
  • 44% plan to redesign their sales workflows

Technology’s role in the transformation of sales

Investment in new technology can help transform the sales function, but true success is determined by the implementation of the technology and training. The tools that sales teams use include CRM and Sales Analytics which are the most common technologies. They are used by 54% of UK sales teams. As the sales process continues to evolve, there is definitely an opportunity for more sales teams to leverage other technologies like contract lifecycle management and eSignature software.   

The DocuSign Research demonstrates that the sales team can struggle to unlock the potential of their existing software. 93% of UK survey respondents suggest that they are not fully utilising their tools. Ensuring that proper implementation, training and communication are in place can help to overcome the challenges. 

Reasons why UK B2B sales team are underutilising sales software

  • 42% said it was because of a lack of integration with other tools
  • 40% said there is insufficient IT support
  • 39% said they had insufficient training for the software
  • 34% said there was poor adoption of the software within their company
  • 27% said there was poor partner utilisation

The Impact of Technology on Sales Agreements and Contracts

83% of respondents to the survey said the average value of a contract for them was in excess of £7,000 , and 38% of respondents have a value in excess of £70,000 dollars. 74% of respondents are dealing with a large number of contracts - on average, they are managing over 500 contracts per month. It’s essential that sales teams can provide a seamless customer experience when dealing with high-value contracts that are directly contributable to the success of an organisation. Customer Lifecycle Management tools can help provide better customer experiences by making it easier to generate, negotiate, act on, and sign agreements. Automating agreements can help the sales team to close deals faster. However, only 32% of respondents are utilising a CLM tool; adopting this software can help organisations provide a better agreement process.

DocuSign’s detailed research explores current trends, technology’s role, and what leaders are changing based on future expectations. The insights should be relevant to any sales organisation looking to adapt to an ever-changing future.

Learn more about the state of B2B sales, key trends and future expectations.

For more detailed data, download DocuSign’s B2B Sales Trends Report.