The metaverse is on everyone’s lips in B2C marketing. According to a recent study, more and more business purchases are being made via virtual channels, including the metaverse. For many employees in B2B sales, this is new territory and raises questions. What does this development mean in practice?
The Internet has long been rooted in our language use and in our professional and private everyday life. In fact, it’s almost impossible to experience a normal day without it affecting a series of experiences or encounters. And while many of us are familiar – and dare I say comfortable – with the basic functionality of the Internet, the evolution of the Metaverse remains an open question.
So what is the metaverse? In its most rudimentary form, Deloitte defines the Metaverse as “the Internet in 3D”. It enables a variety of virtual experiences that can either replicate the real world or simulate worlds beyond it.
And while that may sound fantastic, many of us still have unanswered questions: Why is it relevant from a business perspective and what are the implications for B2B sales? Finally, Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t think the Metaverse will become mainstream in the next five to 10 years, while Gartner predicts that 25 percent of people will spend at least an hour a day in the Metaverse by 2026.
A recent international study led by Showpad, a global provider of sales enablement technology, answers both questions. In addition to the speed with which technology is rapidly changing the traditional B2B sales environment, it also shows that more than a third of B2B purchases in Germany are made virtually. Additionally, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the 500 B2B buyers surveyed say they closed a deal after seeing a demo in the Metaverse or with augmented reality.
For the first time, buyer preferences indicate that companies need to leverage the metaverse and the power of augmented reality to move forward and future-proof the B2B sales experience with enhanced customer journeys.
B2C experiences are increasingly influencing B2B purchasing
In the B2C business with direct-to-consumer sales channels, the metaverse or augmented reality sales techniques have long been adopted. As retail has evolved into e-tail experiences and generations have shifted from brick-and-mortar customers to online consumers, accelerated by the pandemic, enhanced online product experiences have become imperative. And this demand and expectations are increasingly being adopted by B2B buyers. This brings into focus the increasing trend of B2C sales practices and their ongoing impact on the B2B sales landscape. Once the exclusive domain of the consumer sales journey, metaverse and augmented reality are rapidly shaping the B2B sales landscape and customer journey.
The advantages of technologies such as augmented reality compared to two-dimensional, analog presentations quickly become clear even for traditionalists after a corresponding presentation. Especially when it comes to selling complex technologies such as advanced medical devices or state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. Functions and features can be conveyed in a multidimensional and differentiating way in an impressive customer experience – from the microcosm of an iPad to the theater of a lecture hall.
While metrics may indicate slow adoption of all things virtual, B2B purchasing has adopted a more forward-thinking approach. 37 percent of respondents in Germany who buy on behalf of their company say they made a purchase after receiving a presentation or demo in the Metaverse or with augmented reality. Another 20 percent say this has not yet been the case in their purchasing practice but would be interested in doing so. This is where the true potential of augmented reality in sales starts to shine through.
What has digitization changed for B2B sales in the long term?
According to buyers, increasing B2B purchasing via virtual channels is the future and they expect the importance of social media for revenue generation to increase over the next five years. They expect that in just half a decade, 24 percent of all purchases will be made either through social media, the metaverse or with the help of augmented reality.
88 percent of B2B buyers also told us they now prefer to shop virtually — especially those with substantial budgets. In fact, 100 percent of those responsible for purchases of more than $10 million a year say there’s now no need for the traditional “in-person” meetings with sales reps.
This seems at odds with the more traditional value often placed on face-to-face conversations. However, while there will always be room for face-to-face encounters, time is a buyer’s most valuable asset and technologies such as “virtual deal rooms” or the use of video in an increasingly remote hybrid work environment can and will inexorably increase efficiency. In addition, technologies up to augmented reality and the metaverse combine the enabling of a new dimension of customer-centric sales with tailor-made customer experiences along the customer journey.
Almost half of store buyers say they made the majority of purchases through virtual channels in the past year. In this regard, digital engagement is not just a possible outcome of the pandemic or the future — it is already an established way of commercial life.
So does the rise of the Metaverse mark a turning point for B2B sales? No way. However, the study results point to a turning point with the necessary assumption of a “digital first or hybrid approach”. In this context, the metaverse is just one variant in the concert of technologies that enable new dimensions of use for customer-centric and efficient sales. Already 80 percent of sales employees say that digital sales have increased sales for their company in the past year. Whatever your personal preferences around digitization, the metaverse, or social media, if you’re in sales, technology is undoubtedly a enabler for more growth.