ChannelLife New Zealand logo
Industry insider news for New Zealand's technology resellers
Story image

Sales professionals struggling to be relevant in a hybrid 'virtual' selling world

By Ryan Morris-Reade
Wed 1 Dec 2021

The rapid acceleration of hybrid work due to the COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound long-term impact on buyer and seller relationships, according to a new report. 

The Sales Agility Report from Wyda says the impact is forcing a re-think on the effectiveness of traditional sales training. 

The pandemic has dramatically impacted how buyers and sellers engage, bringing virtual selling skills to the fore. But another significant trend is the self-sufficiency of buyers to independently research, explore and understand the products and solutions they are interested in purchasing, further reducing the influence of a 'sales' pitch.

"Over time, sales professionals who rely heavily on their ability to match customers in the market to solution use cases are becoming less valuable to buyers and less effective as sellers," says Wyda founder and chief executive, and the report's author, Kate Kesbyo

"Some sales professionals have been able to mask this through physical in-person relationships, until the pandemic stripped away the coffee meeting and exposed a big skill gap," she says.

The Sales Agility Report shows fundamental changes in buyer dynamics, the need to offer greater insights and better understand the customer's business, rather than just talking about products or relying on relationships.

"Sellers that don't adapt fast in this new environment are being exposed," says Kesby.

"Customers are still buying, so sellers who can make it clear how they are relevant as partners and how that fuels growth will get attention and ultimately the business."

According to the report, the top three skills to differentiate high-performing sales professionals are:

  • Offering and articulating business insights to the C-Suite and Executives: Only 49% of the respondents felt confident that their sales professionals had these skills, 28% lacked confidence that their training provided this capability, with the remaining 23% 'uncertain'.
  • Understanding customers' business context: Traditional sales education and training tools struggle in key areas. A staggering 88% agree that traditional sales methodologies need to be combined with more context-specific skills. This means a better way for sales professionals to learn, target and articulate in the current market. Further, 95% want to see an increased focus on 'sales agility' in their training and education programmes.
  • Selling on business value, not focusing on product features and attributes: While respondents' preferred training choice is classroom-based instructor-led, interestingly, 30% said they have difficulty changing their behaviour after training. This issue of 'inertia' is even more pronounced amongst companies with 10,000+ employees, with 41% citing it as a problem.

"As one respondent remarked, the agile salesperson needs to use an array of information and people, both internal and third-party, to drive customer insights and trust," says Kesby.

"This point was illustrated by the fact that 95% of respondents agreed that creating greater agility in sales engagement and execution is required."

Virtual Selling

Remote or hybrid workplaces are now the norm, and many buyers and decision-makers perform their roles in a time-poor environment where virtual meetings and engagements far outweigh face-to-face meetings.

"Sales professionals who previously relied on relationships driven by physical meetings, such as lunches or an event, intertwined with sales stories and pitches, are finding the pandemic has taken that away," says Kesby.

"In a virtual selling world where buyers are remote, juggling additional commitments and are over-extended pivoting their own business, sales professionals need to have less reliance on relationships and a more compelling business reason for meetings to cut through the noise and build credibility and trust."

Key Challenges

The report found that 60% of all respondents use a formal sales methodology. But the top three challenges in the sales environment were the increase in virtual selling, having to speak to multiple stakeholders, and the competitive pressure, which requires them to better articulate business value in their interactions.

Less than half (40%) held a positive view that their company was effective at engaging C-Suite executives.

"The three most common barriers for sales professionals engaging customer executives are the difficulty scheduling meetings, the lack of an established relationship, and being blocked by gatekeepers, which we all present pre-pandemic," says Kesby.

"To overcome these challenges, sales professionals must offer and articulate business insights to senior executives, understanding customers' business situations and selling on business value, rather than product features and attributes," she says.

The Path Forward

The pandemic has caused significant disruption to business operations, and the sales engagement process is no different. As organisations pivoted to a hybrid work model with remote employees, we have seen the importance of virtual selling and the articulation of customer business-centric sales messaging significantly increase.

"Successful selling in this hybrid world requires an agile set of skills to overcome the same blockers as pre-pandemic engagements," says Kesby. 

"But our data shows us that almost one in two sales professionals lacks the confidence to articulate business issues and solutions in this changing sales environment," she says.

Kesby says many organisations are suffering due to assuming a pre-existing level of foundational knowledge that simply does not exist, or in cases where it does, is not always applied consistently.

"The research tells us sales professionals are seeking a new educational approach that amplifies traditional sales methodologies with more dynamic, contextual sales education that builds accountability, responsibility and agility."


Related stories
Top stories
Story image
OHI Data Navigator recognised by IDC for APAC contribution
IDC has chosen OHI Data Navigator as the best Asia Pacific Smart City project under its 2022 Smart City Asia/Pacific Awards (SCAPA) category under the Public Health and Social Services category.
Story image
UNIQLO operator chooses Adyen for multiple market payments
The operator of UNIQLO, Fast Retailing, has selected Adyen to power payments for its in-store and online checkout in multiple markets.
Story image
ABI Research
75% of 5G networks to advance to 5G-Advanced by 2030
5G-advanced is set to launch in 2025, and 75% of 5G networks will upgrade by 2030, according to ABI Research. 
Story image
Online bullying, harassment skyrockets since COVID outbreak
Harmful content reports have risen by over 25% since the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, according to Netsafe.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Siemens expands NVIDIA partnership for industrial metaverse
Siemens is expanding its partnership with NVIDIA to enable the industrial metaverse and increase the use of AI-driven digital twin technology.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Bitdefender, Cohesity, Fortinet & MODIFI
We round up all job appointments from June 27-30, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Supply chain
Supply chains continue to be disrupted, enterprises embrace circular economy
“Businesses urgently need to find a solution that can help them to manage this disruption, and transition to a circular economy."
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Vectra AI named as AWS security competency partner
Threat detection and response company Vectra AI has announced that it has become an Amazon Web Services Security Competency Partner.
Story image
Data Protection
How secure is accounting software data in Aotearoa?
A recent Xero study found ICT spending for NZ businesses has increased 25% compared to pre-pandemic levels, so how safe is accounting software?
Story image
Tech and data’s role in the changing face of compliance
Accenture's study found that 93% of respondents agree or strongly agree new technologies such as AI and cloud make compliance easier.
Story image
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CyberArk
Olly Stimpson joins us today to discuss the importance of MSP programmes and how MSP partners are experiencing success with CyberArk.
Story image
Identity and Access Management
Ping Identity named a Leader in Access Management
Ping Identity has been named a leader in the 2022 KuppingerCole Leadership Compass report for Access Management. 
Story image
BT builds on Equinix partnership with new cloud offering
BT has launched a next-generation cloud connectivity offering extending its global network into strategic carrier-neutral facilities (CNFs) and building on its existing partnership with Equinix.
Story image
Examining the future of ransomware threats with Vectra’s CTO
As customers' valuable data move to the cloud, so will ransomware. What is the current landscape and what do we need to know?
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Dynatrace extends automatic release validation capabilities
Dynatrace has extended its platform release validation capabilities to improve user experience at every stage of the software development lifecycle.
Story image
Cyber Criminal
Identity and access: the fight is on
Blue team defenders are used to protecting our data, applications, and users with access controls and other security mechanisms, which is why attacks like this are especially challenging when they target identity and access control systems.
Story image
Without trust, your security team is dead in the water
The rise of cyberattacks has increased the need for sound security that works across any type of business, but with any change, buy-in is essential. Airwallex explains why.
Story image
Hands-on review: GoDice
In a world where we’re more connected than ever to our smart devices, startup company Particula believes that its innovative product GoDice is the answer to getting everyone reconnected with one another - by turning that smart device into an interactive board game.
Story image
WatchGuard Technologies
Ransomware volume doubled 2021 total by end of Q1 2022
Ransomware detections in the first quarter of this year doubled the total volume reported for 2021, according to a new report. 
Story image
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from Paessler
Sebastian Krüger joins us today to discuss how unified infrastructure monitoring enables MSPs to seamlessly deliver services to their clients.
Story image
Delinea’s Joseph Carson recognised with OnCon Icon Award
Delinea chief security scientist and advisory CISO Joseph Carson has been recognised as a Top 50 Information Security Professional in the 2022 OnCon Icon Awards.
Story image
Hands-on review: Phillips Hue starter kit
The set-up was one of the simplest I have ever had to do. It is also where the products shine. I was able to connect the bridge, the three lightbulbs and the strip within 10 min.
Story image
Evonik relies on Getac F110 tablet to control autonomous robot
The aim of the project is to evaluate the practicality of an automated robotic maintenance and inspection solution in the chemical industry.
Story image
Internet of Things
ManageEngine wins big in IDC MarketScape assessment
ManageEngine's Endpoint Central service has been recognised as a leader by IDC MarketScape in several categories including Internet of Things device deployments and UEM software for SMEs.
Story image
Dicker Data
EXCLUSIVE: Why women in IT makes good business sense - Dicker Data
The Federal government wants to bolster female participation in the tech industry to at least 40% by 2030. Here's how one homegrown Australian company has already reached that goal.
Story image
How organisations can mitigate IoT and IIoT security risks
IoT and IIoT come with inherent risks because they are often deployed faster than they can be secured, putting organisations in danger of cyber threats. Here are tips on how to mitigate those risks.
Story image
Sony releases a new gaming gear brand for PC gamers
Sony has unveiled INZONETM, a new gaming gear brand for PC gamers that makes gaming more immersive and offers greater gaming ability.
Story image
Dark web
Cybercrime in Aotearoa: How does New Zealand law define it?
‘Cybercrime’ is a term we hear all the time, but what exactly is it, and how does New Zealand define it in legal terms?
Story image
Hands-on review – CleanMyMac X utility for macOS
We get hands-on with a useful utility that macOS users never thought they needed but probably do.
Story image
FIDO Alliance releases guidelines for optimising UX with FIDO Security Keys
The new guidelines aim to accelerate multi-factor authentication deployment and adoption with FIDO security keys.
Story image
Digital innovation could shape the future of NZ - Microsoft
With cloud technologies available to more people around the world than ever before, it is not only businesses who will benefit from using them.
Story image
Monitors are an excellent incentive for getting employees back
The pandemic has taught us that hybrid working is a lot easier than we would’ve thought, so how can the office be made to feel as comfortable as home? The answer could be staring you in the face right now.
Story image
Internet of Things
Large enterprises propel 5G industrial IoT market
Large enterprises are propelling the 5G industrial Internet of Things market, according to a recently published report from Future Market Insights.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Eight top DevSecOps trends to support IT innovation in 2022
The use of DevSecOps practices is growing, as it is increasingly seen as the best way to produce high-quality and secure code. So what are the current trends?
Story image
Azure-based technology asBuilt signals better BIM outcomes in NZ
The Microsoft Azure-based asBuilt intelligence hub is helping Kiwi businesses accelerate their building information management potential.
Story image
WiFi as a Service market to reach $26 billion through 2032
As a result of the easy management of wireless infrastructure over cloud services, WaaS is experiencing rapid growth.
Story image
Mergers and Acquisitions
SAS acquires Kamakura to propel risk technology innovation
Underscoring SAS growth in the domain-specific solutions space, the acquisition will enable SAS to greatly enhance the breadth of its risk solutions portfolio. 
Story image
Web Development
Whitecliffe fosters careers for the future of tech
Do you want a career in Information Technology, Networking, Web Development, Software Development, or are you looking to upskill?
Story image
NEC expands Open RAN ecosystem with Aspire Tech acquisition
With its agreement to acquire Aspire Technology, NEC Corporation has further increased its capacity to deliver End-to-End Open RAN ecosystems.
Story image
Hybrid Cloud
Advent One acquires Layer 8 Networks, complements hybrid cloud offering
The acquisition comes at a time of surging demand in hybrid cloud, network virtualisation and network security.
Story image
SAS wins Microsoft ISV 2022 Partner of the Year award
"We formed the SAS and Microsoft strategic partnership with a shared goal of making it easier for customers to drive better decisions in the cloud."
Story image
Financial results
Margins & revenues up at New Zealand arm of Acer Computer
We look at the local financial statements of Taiwanese manufacturer Acer Computer Inc.
Story image
ASI Solutions named finalist of Microsoft Surface Partner of the Year
"ASI Solutions has a strong Microsoft focus, building value by helping customers maximise investment in modern workplace solutions."
Story image
Southern Cross Cable
Southern Cross Cable launches the SX NEXT cable to connect NZ to the world
The new Southern Cross NEXT fibre cable (SX NEXT) is set to connect Australasia to the US and further enhance connectivity between New Zealand, Australia, and the US.