The reality of B2B Sales in 2024: A Longer Journey and Rising Expectations

by | Jun 20, 2024

In today’s fast-evolving business landscape, B2B sales processes are becoming increasingly complex. Sales cycles are extending, buyers are conducting thorough research before engaging with salespeople, and decision-making involves more stakeholders than ever before. Understanding these changes and adapting to them is crucial for success in B2B sales.

Sales Cycles Are Getting Longer

Recent trends indicate that B2B sales cycles are lengthening. On average, the time to close deals has definitely extended by multiple weeks or even months, compared to previous years. Economic uncertainties and tighter budgets are key factors driving this change, as buyers meticulously evaluate and justify every purchase decision. According to Forrester, 95% of buying groups revisit decisions at least once during the purchasing process, further elongating the cycle.

Thorough Buyer Research

It’s no surprise that today’s buyers are more informed than ever. Before engaging with sales, they conduct extensive independent research using online resources, peer reviews, and industry reports. This shift means that buyers approach sales interactions with specific questions and well-defined requirements. As a result, sales teams must be prepared to provide deep insights and add significant value beyond what buyers have already discovered on their own. Gartner research finds that when B2B buyers are considering a purchase‚ they spend only 17% of that time meeting with potential suppliers. When buyers are comparing multiple suppliers‚ the amount of time spent with any one sales rep may be only 5% or 6%.   So make your time in front of customer count!

Increased Stakeholder Involvement

The decision-making process in B2B sales now involves a larger number of stakeholders. The average number of individuals involved in a complex B2B purchasing decisions is now 6 to 10. This trend necessitates a tailored approach from sales teams, who must address the unique needs and concerns of each stakeholder. Ensuring consensus among these diverse voices is a significant challenge, requiring strategic communication and collaboration.  The need to engage with multiple decision makers is often over looked by sales people and we still find one or two buyers listed as the only decision makers for complex deals.


“ I was working on selling a consultancy engagement to an insurance and pensions firm and had identified and then built a strong relationship with the operation buyer – who was the end user. We helped him understand his requirements and risks and in return, he became the deal ‘coach’. He made introductions to key decision makers and helped us understand how to build creditability with other key decision makers  (e.g. risk and compliance, operations and sales). 

This included how to present information (focus on facts and figures) and words, including phrases not to use!  His role and contribution helped us shaped our final submission, which included using members from his team as part of the delivery solution.

This meant he championed our bid over a big 4 competitor, based on our understanding of their business and the opportunity to develop their own staff and part own the solution internally.”  

 Getting in front of buyers – Digital vs. In-Person Interactions

The preference for digital interactions over face-to-face meetings has become pronounced. According to McKinsey, over three-quarters of B2B buyers and sellers now prefer digital self-serve and remote engagement, valuing the speed and convenience it offers. Only about 20% of buyers wish to return to in-person sales interactions. Video conferencing and live chat have emerged as dominant channels for closing sales, highlighting the necessity for sales teams to be adept in virtual selling techniques.  Virtual Digital sales rooms can help bridge the gap but are not being used enough.

So now what?

In summary, the evolving B2B sales environment requires sales teams to adapt to all of these elements. Yeah, no sh*t Sherlock. While it’s not rocket science, there are still a lot of businesses struggling with all of these elements. Buyers and sellers and it’s time we all acknowledge that things are pretty tough out there.

Take a step

To meet the expectations of both buyers and procurement teams for deep product knowledge, personalised solutions, and transparent communication, salespeople need to explore internal resources and support networks and champions that can help them to navigate these challenges and succeed in closing deals.

But as the landscape continues to shift, there is no shame, in fact it is a positive step to take action, to be a leader or organisation who can effectively respond to these new dynamics. The ones admitting they need help and proactively seeking support now, will be best positioned to thrive.

Yes of course I am going to say that we are well placed to offer such support, but we are also genuinely happy to chat about this more, to answer any questions on specific aspects of sales cycle development. It is a complex playing field out there.

You won’t be alone in doing so and your future pipeline – and likely your team and CEO – will thank you.