86% of customers prefer virtual, metaversal and social media shopping

White VR Headset.

White VR headset.
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According to Showpad’s new report, personal selling is dead. Eighty-six percent of buyers now prefer to sell virtually without face-to-face meetings. The trend will increase rapidly in the near future. Ninety-two percent of millennial and Gen Z shoppers prefer virtual sales, a report assures.

Showpad, a recognized sales enablement platform, surveyed customers from 521 US organizations with revenues up to $1 billion to gain insight into sales preferences and emerging trends. The survey on the state of sales showed that eight out of 10 customers already use or are open to using new technologies.

TechRepublic spoke with Hendrik Isebaert, CEO of Showpad, to understand how leading companies are driving sales through new digital channels.

Isebaert explains that when it comes to high-end technology, the survey found that 59% of respondents made a purchase after a demonstration in the metaverse or using augmented reality.

“This suggests that B2B marketers and sellers should align to incorporate augmented reality sales tactics into their offerings, ensuring better customer interactions and ultimately increasing conversion rates,” said Isebaert.

Rethinking the metaverse, marketing and sales

In February 2022, Gartner predicted that 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse by 2026. But the transition to new business models seems to be catalyzing faster than expected.

The McKinsey report “Marketing in the Metaverse” explains that the metaverse has moved beyond gaming platforms such as Roblox, Fortnite or Decentraland and is now being used extensively by companies for marketing and sales strategies.

The very definition of the metaverse, which no one can agree on, is quickly being adjusted. For McKinsey, the metaverse is an evolution of today’s Internet, “something we’re immersed in, instead of something we look at.” Gartner defines it as a collective virtual shared space, where virtually enhanced physical and digital realities come together.

Showpad’s research reveals that the metaverse has moved from a strictly theoretical concept to a business channel.

“Many companies and brands are starting to enter the metaverse through digital collectibles, loyalty programs and digital product offerings by creating digital online stores,” said Isebaert. In addition, augmented reality tools are easily implemented into sales enablement platforms.

Not only are the new channels now fully operational, they are replacing traditional sales channels. “Even among those who are responsible for more than $12 million in purchases annually for their business, 69% say there is now no need for a traditional ‘face-to-face’ meeting with a sales representative,” Showpad said in its report.

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A seller in the new digital era

More and more customers are switching to virtual shopping, but that doesn’t remove the seller from the selling experience.

“The seller will always be there, trying to provide an optimized customer experience,” Isebaert said. Leading companies support their sellers with cutting-edge technology solutions, augmented reality interfaces and virtual showroom models to provide a modern personalized customer experience.

The CEO reveals that social media also acts as a primary driver of B2B sales. Seventy percent of respondents said they bought a product for their company after seeing it on social media.

The best selling social media channels are:

  • Facebook: 69%
  • Instagram: 57%
  • YouTube: 48%
  • LinkedIn: 26%

According to Showpad, more than half of all customers want to see physical products before they buy them. Of these, only 34% prefer a personal demonstration.

The main industries that need to see a product before buying are:

  • Technology: 64%
  • Production and engineering: 60%
  • Construction: 57%
  • Insurance: 50%

Multichannel: Challenges and Management

As omnichannels scale up to engage with customers in new ways and deliver new forms of payment, demonstrations, products and services, companies face challenges in managing their omnichannel channels. Social media, augmented reality and metaverse experiences, online commerce and other channels cannot be isolated, they must be interconnected, share data and react as one.

Customers expect an exceptional multi-channel experience. Isebaert explains that managing omnichannel customer experiences can be simplified with tools and technologies for sales enablement, customer relationship management and sales engagement.

Leading companies also align strategy, salespeople and marketers to work together. “Customer engagement and success are key across all sales touch points; it’s futile to engage a customer on Instagram and then lose them due to poor engagement tracking or delayed communication,” explained Isebaert.

Companies are also becoming increasingly data-driven. User data enables them to provide customized and differentiated experiences. Collecting data to better understand customers and their behavior has become essential for companies to provide personalized experiences.

SEE: Metaverse Cheats: Everything You Need to Know (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The journey of metaversal marketing transformation

New technologies help customers visualize and experience solutions or products digitally, via

interactive sales. The immersive experience is changing the way customers learn about products, no matter how complex they are. As companies continue to adopt hybrid sales models, AR and VR solutions will be even more critical.

While some brands are already working with new channels, others are just getting started.

Companies leading the way offer a better brand and customer experience with modern sales tactics. By combining the metaverse and social media, they set clear goals and compare them through their campaigns.

Investing in the right infrastructure is essential so that marketing strategies and sales tactics have the resources and tools they need.

“Sales reps and marketers need to have ongoing, honest conversations about what’s working in the market and what’s not,” says Isebaert.

According to McKinsey, companies connected to the metaverse will raise over $10 billion in 2021, more than double what they did in 2020. Companies have shifted from a test-and-learn mentality to production campaigns. Brands that engage in new channels and technologies are also perceived as innovative, gaining a competitive advantage. Multichannel commerce is becoming second nature and changing the rules of the brand experience.

Showpad’s CEO said the future of customer experience will focus on enhancements to augmented reality tools that will further enhance the human aspect of the shopping journey and simplify the entire buying process.

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