B2B Best And Last: What The Winning Firms Are Doing (And The Laggards)

There is a vast gap between top B2B companies and those struggling to catch up. 

Winners are more likely to be increasing their sales investment — 69% plan to do so, versus 36% of the laggards, according to The Multiplier Effect: How B2B winners grow, a new study by McKinsey & Company.

Leading companies are also more likely to implement all five of the following strategies, and they deploy the individual ones in these percentages:

  • Advances ales tool usage — 66%
  • Highly personalized marketing — 57%
  • Hybrid sales teams and capabilities — 58%
  • Tailored strategies on third-party marketplaces — 51%
  • Already invested in owned marketplace — 44%



In contrast, B2B firms in general have implemented:

  • Advanced sales tool usage — 65%
  • Highly personalized marketing — 39%
  • Hybrid sales teams and capabilities — 48%
  • Tailored strategies on third-party marketplaces — 42%
  • Already invested in owned marketplace — 25%

What’s more, 57% of the winners have adopted hybrid sales capabilities, compared to 40% of the laggards. 

Then there’s personalization—59% of the more advanced companies are using advanced sales technology for this, compared to 32% of the losing firms. And 77% of those that do saw an increase in market share. 

The top firms also invest in advanced technology stacks, analytics, and prescriptive insights so sales people can present unique offers on a one-to-one basis. This is particularly prevalent in Brazil, India, and the U.S.

Apart from those actions, winners are apparently defined by market share growth. 

In general, ecommerce is now rated as the most effective sales channel:

  • Ecommerce — 35%
  • In-person sales — 26%
  • Video conference —12%
  • Email — 10%
  • Telephone — 8%

Firms with winning market share have digital self-serve channels via their own websites, and 48% are on industry-specific marketplaces, versus 13% of those losing share. 

We’re not talking about selling pens or legal pads: 

Of decision-makers polled 70% are prepared to spend up to $500,000 on a single ecommerce transaction. And the number willing to spend up to $10 million has increased by 83%, and this trend is particularly true in China, India and the U.S.

What are they buying for that kind of money?

Global energy and materials; telecommunications, media, and technology; and advanced industry sectors.

The study shows that 34% of buyers use digital self-service for identifying and researching new suppliers. In addition, 33% use it for considering and evaluating new supplies. 

Moreover, 33% order via digital service and 37% re-order. 

“These trends we are seeing continue to shake things up for companies,” concludes Jennifer Stanley, Partner, McKinsey & Company. And the signals are clear -- customers know exactly what, where, how, and when they want things.” 

Stanley continues, “What’s even more clear? Companies that adapt and respond to those needs and provide value are being rewarded in multiple ways -- from higher retention rates, higher sales, and higher market share.”

McKinsey surveyed nearly 3,800 sales and marketing leaders across 13 countries in December 2022.


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