B2B buyers have been seeking their independence for years. Covid-19 accelerated their efforts, leaving sellers on shaky ground. Gartner’s CSO Priorities Pulse Survey found 57% of sales teams only partially prepared or unprepared to deliver the same level of value in virtual engagements as done via their in-person engagements before the pandemic. Evaluating interactive virtual experiences to enhance digital engagement and virtual selling provides a path to growth in 2021.
Organizations considering the shift to virtual selling on a permanent basis is up to 25% and growing. Gartner predicts that 80% of B2B sales interactions between buyers and sellers will occur in digital channels by 2025. However, the reality today is limited ability to create dynamic and engaging B2B virtual interactions—whether via marketers or sellers.
Zoom fatigue is also a contributing factor to dissonance with virtual selling. Reduced interaction with buyers presents challenges to active engagement. Virtual meetings result in shortened attention spans and the urge for attendees to multi-task, paying even less attention. Sellers also have an inability to observe and respond to body cues when limited to seeing buyers in small boxes on screens. Those who choose not to activate their video cameras make engagement even tougher to monitor or encourage.
To combat inattention and lack of engagement, look to the evolution of sales content distribution capabilities with interactive B2B virtual experiences.
Rethink How Sellers Engage Buyers with B2B Virtual Experiences
You've heard about interactive content. It’s often equated to quizzes, value assessments, ROI calculators and chatbots. B2B virtual experiences make interactive content more dynamic and come closer to immersive technologies, including AR and VR. It’s also worth noting that you can combine multiple formats and types of content for presentation and additional interaction within a virtual experience.
To date, the technologies have been used primarily for B2B field service or B2C sales use cases. The same capabilities can apply to the selling of physical, heavy, or complex equipment. Virtual product tours, for example, help buyers explore your products by allowing them to dive into the areas that interest them. Conversations become richer and more meaningful when the buyer drives the exploration with deeper 3D dives into facets of your products that static graphics don’t allow.
While AR and VR technologies are immature and expensive, transitional capabilities that move beyond basic visual configuration enable buyers to interact with the visual representation in real time. Virtual experiences are available on mobile phones, tablets, or via web browsers and aren’t dependent on the buyer having specific AR equipment.
Reinvent Trade Shows with Interactive Virtual Experiences
Consider the on-hold status of in-person trade shows. Many marketers and sellers miss the opportunity to hold in-person demonstrations of products, and start relationships on “human” terms that grow into customer relationships initiated at the show. Just because we can’t be physically with our buyers doesn’t mean we can’t use technology to achieve a similar level of active engagement.
Gartner's recent research note, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Will Transform Selling, stated:
AR and VR technologies could potentially simulate tradeshows. For example, Modus, a sales enablement platform vendor, has introduced a 'virtual experience' product that uses a 3D microsite to help generate demand. You can walk around a simulated tradeshow booth and explore products. At the same time, you can interact with a chatbot (seller) to learn more about a product."
If you'd like to see an example of a real life B2B Virtual Experience in action, view this 20-minute video demo to get a behind-the-curtain look at just how easy it is to use Modus to create a 3D virtual booth that spins 360⁰, showcase content hot spots, chat with buyers, and capture leads.
Think Outside the Norm with B2B Virtual Experiences
While the example shown represents a virtual trade show booth, a virtual experience can also be pivotal to creating an always-on virtual experience for lead and demand generation. Your imagination is the limit. All you need are the graphics to visually configure the experience you want. Help your buyers climb a mountain, collaborate in a ski lodge, build a city on the moon, or take buyers on a safari or scavenger hunt. Build your own conference center for your customer or user summit.
Content hot spots can showcase all types of content from virtual product tours, to video, to PDFs and infographics. Make your experience a destination with livestream webinars or show them on demand. Gate all or some of your assets to capture leads, automatically create and sync them to your marketing automation platform, and route them into relevant follow-up programs.
Use chat to engage visitors with conversations about the experience, to schedule demos or meetings, or have your sales reps hold office hours or instantly launch a video meeting to walk a buyer through a value assessment or ROI calculator.
Interactive virtual experiences are great tools for marketers and sellers. It’s all in the context you create. Incorporate a virtual experience into your website. Use a virtual booth to increase the ROI of a trade show you’re sponsoring that’s hosted on a platform limiting you to providing a static experience to show attendees.
Buyers Demand More: Interactive Virtual Experiences Deliver
Even during the pandemic, buying hasn’t stopped. Business goes on, and will grow in 2021, with Gartner finding 70% of enterprise buyers saying purchasing will increase. But the demands and expectations of B2B buyers have accelerated given the shift to nearly all engagement being digital or virtual. Without the ability to develop relationships in person, delighting your buyers with B2B virtual experiences that educate, inform, and involve them will help you meet your growth goals in 2021. You’ll find a marked difference in active engagement with buyers.