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July 30, 2021

Is VR Heralding a New Dawn in B2B Sales and Marketing?

Virtual reality (VR) can offer sales and marketing professionals a brilliant tool to tell brand stories to captivate and connect with customers, So why has VR been slow to catch on in the B2B world… and is that about to change? 

The answer may lie in the perception that virtual reality is an expensive, inaccessible and niche technology for a consumer market. But this could not be farther from the truth.

Virtual reality hardware is becoming more accessible, with demand for AR and VR headsets on the increase. With projections of sales of over 26 million units per year by 2023, immersive technologies are becoming increasingly ubiquitous.

Moreover, advances in content creation means that VR experiences are becoming more realistic and impactful. This, combined with the increasing popularity of hardware means that virtual reality has the potential to provide a viable route to reach clients and potential customers in exciting ways.


B2B VR sales and marketing examples

Immersive technologies can help businesses to stand out from the crowd in a competitive market, streamline the sales and marketing process, and help their customers to make informed purchasing decisions.

Try before you buy

Virtual reality offers a convenient way to showcase the functionality of products by transporting customers into a virtual space where they can fully try out a product in endless different scenarios. 

This has tangible benefits for the sales process, as clients can fully interrogate a product, literally getting to know a product inside out and before making any purchasing decision. What’s more, experiences can be personalised to help address any specific questions the customer may have, as well as building stronger and deeper connections with the product or service. 

Virtual trade shows

With many businesses using trade shows to launch flagships products and services, the Covid pandemic has left a significant gap in their sales and marketing strategies, impacting on lead generations and sales. Virtual reality can help in several ways to showcase products remotely. Digital twins of products can be accurately produced, to be experienced and scrutinised by potential customers.

Additionally, virtual reality platforms can provide a social space for sales teams to meet and interact with potential customers. While online teleconferencing platforms, such as Zoom, have given us all the chance to stay connected with each other during the pandemic, social VR platforms take virtual meetings from a 2D space to 3D. This can help sales teams to connect to customers in a more realistic way, allowing them to pick up on non verbal body language.

Enhancing presence at real world trade shows

Moreover, as real world trade shows re-emerge post-Covid, location based, experiential VR experiences can help engage and inform potential customers. Having VR stations on exhibition stands can help brands to stand out from the crowd, as well as providing an effective tool to fully showcase more options within their range. What’s more, it can help to convert prospects into sales by providing immediate personalised versions of products.

Engaging with customers at an earlier stage of product development

Virtual reality doesn’t just offer sales and marketing teams a virtual space to showcase new and existing products, it also gives customers the chance to preview products during the research and development process. By testing virtual prototypes, brands are able to refine products to meet the needs of their clients in a faster and more cost effective way than relying on physical prototypes. This means that customers can not only make informed purchasing decisions at an earlier stage, but also actively influence the development of products and services.

Customer Service

Great customer service can help build strong and long lasting relationships with clients. Virtual reality can help to develop customer loyalty by offering post-sales support, from virtual user manuals to hands-on training guides and interactive and personalised FAQs, VR can also be used to monitor user performance, helping to provide crucial feedback for future product developments.


Challenges to VR use in B2B

In spite of the tangible benefits of embracing VR technology for B2B sales and marketing, there are perceived barriers to adoption. These include:

Accessibility

For VR content to be accessed, specific hardware is needed. Headsets and controllers, such as the Oculus Quest or HTC Vive are essential to block out the real world and experience and interact with virtual content. For marketers, this presents a barrier to reach potential customers – especially on a mass scale. 

As VR hardware becomes more widely available, VR adoption to connect with B2B customers is becoming increasingly more attractive. This is coupled with the fact hat in light of the Covid pandemic, sales and marketing teams need to innovate and explore new options to reaching potential sales leads.

Affordability

Great VR experiences for B2B marketing and sales purposes rely on a combination of cutting-edge technology and realistic and engaging content. This potentially requires a significant up front investment in both time and money, making VR an unattractive option to a company’s senior management team, especially when there is no guarantee for a return on their investment.

But businesses who are adopting VR across a wide range of business critical functions are realising the tangible benefits of immersive technologies. VR is becoming more affordable, thanks to lower costs associated with hardware, with the introduction of high quality but affordable kit, such as the Oculus Quest, coupled with great off-the-shelf platforms leading to low cost options for content creation. Moreover, VR is easily scalable, so can be a cost effective way to roll out supporting content to global sales teams.

Bad ‘gimmicky’ VR experiences

Over the last few years, VR may have been a victim of its own hype, with brands creating low standard experiences that aren’t fit for purpose and are counter productive to their sales and marketing strategies. This has helped to reinforce a perception that VR is all about the gimmick, rather than an impactful marketing tool. Marketers are constantly looking to make their brands stand out from the crowd and create memorable connections with customers – and adopting new technologies can do just that. Virtual reality can help to achieve this, but to be truly impactful, telling the product or brand story should be the driving force, rather than the technology itself.


Will the future of B2B be more virtual?

The Covid pandemic has significantly disrupted many of our working practices in the short term, as well as potentially catalysing long term trends. This has presented significant challenges to B2B sales and marketing teams, where connecting with customers in meaningful ways is crucial to the ongoing success of brands. 

Virtual reality has the potential to offer mind blowing visual experiences, which is great for grabbing attention. But the power of virtual reality for marketing and sales lies in its ability to tell compelling brand stories and connect with customers in meaningful ways

.Although adoption has been slow in the world of B2B up to this point, embracing VR may just hold the key to building strong long term sales and marketing strategies to address these challenges both now and in the future.