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The Sales Process is Evolving. Are You Ready to Adapt?

man at computer

Article Date: April 28, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic and an increasingly digital world is forcing sales teams (gladly) to change.

ByTysen Gannon, Building Materials Growth Specialist, CNVRT

Remember the days when there was a clearly defined line between field sales and inside sales? Sales professionals in either one of these disciplines had distinct roles and job responsibilities. Then came a global pandemic and a nearly universal drive by employers of every kind – including building materials manufacturers (BMMs) – to embrace remote work.

The line has definitely been blurred, perhaps even erased. According to Forrester, 80% or more of the sales cycle is happening in digital/remote settings because of the many B2B organizations working remotely.

The impact of the pandemic accelerated a trend that had already been gaining steam for BMMs for some time. Engagement within the industry – amongst architects, specifiers, contractors, developers and others – is becoming an increasingly digital play. At the same time, the incoming workforce (and the upper-end millennials who started their careers nearly two decades ago) are digital natives. They conduct their own online research, vetting, and communication with sales teams across the board.

Translation: Sales processes traditionally reserved for one-on-one interaction are conducted online without the customer ever picking up the phone or attending an in-person meeting.

“Face-to-face selling is becoming a thing of the past,” said Kevin Mayer, board member of CNVRT. “Thankfully, remote work is not having a negative impact on selling but we’re finding that architects don’t want to or don’t see the need to talk or meet directly with salespeople anymore. They have the ability to get all of the information they need about a company and its products digitally.”

Switching Roles

Sales teams are taking on a new role, or at least an altered one.

Buyers have a preference for digital and remote interactions, and salespeople are favoring it as the new preferred setting for selling products.

McKinsey & Company details how COVID-19 has changed B2B sales forever: “Far from a local phenomenon, the shift to digital and remote engagement has been embraced by decision makers in all countries surveyed worldwide. B2B sales leaders have moved from being ‘forced’ to adopt digital in reaction to the widespread shutdowns in the early stages of COVID-19 to a growing conviction that digital is the way to go.”

The majority of B2B sales teams in 2021 now feel that selling with the help of video conferencing is as effective as face-to-face communication. This remote engagement is proving to be successful for both selling and prospecting. Digital interactions are easier to organize. Plus, there are fewer secondary obligations, such as travel, purchasing meals, and preparing a physical location. In this new normal, both the seller and buyer can conduct their business from the comfort of their own office or home.

Tune to the Right Channel

Now that a significant portion of individuals are working from home, reliance on channel partners for building material manufacturers is even more essential than before. People are conducting business from a variety of locations, and most businesses have employees spread across a large radius. According to Forrester, the channel is establishing itself as vital to selling organizations to support geographically dispersed individuals that B2B companies, including BMMs, were not prepared to service pre-pandemic.

Having local channel partners is proving to be fundamental to building material companies in a post-pandemic world. Local and regional channel partners give greater access to customers operating from remote locations and provide much-needed support for the BMMs who need to reach them.

The New Normal

According to that same McKinsey & Company research, almost 9 out of 10 decision makers surveyed say that these new go-to-market sales practices will be utilized heavily in 2021 and likely beyond.

“The trend in the building materials category has been moving to be more digital-centric anyway, but the COVID-19 pandemic served as a catalyst to push our industry, and many others, into an almost exclusively online world of buying and selling,” added Mayer. “Selling organizations that are not primed to operate digitally moving forward will be, without a doubt, missing out on opportunities. It is the nature of the new world we live in.”

The most successful organizations will be those that adapt to the growing demands of buyers who want to conduct the bulk of their research and business online. According to McKinsey & Company, B2B companies that commit to the digitizing of their selling models will reap the benefits “of more – and more loyal – customers than their slower-moving peers.”

These same rules apply to the building materials manufacturing category.

The question for each organization: How will we adapt and outpace our competition?


McKinsey & Company

BLD Marketing is a results-based, digitally-focused, full-service strategic marketing firm exclusively serving the commercial and residential building materials category.