2020 is now behind us, and 2021 has begun, and there have been big shifts in buyer behavior and the selling environment over the past year. Yet these shifts have ongoing repercussions (but also possibilities) going forward as well. Looking ahead at the sales trends you’re most likely to see in 2021 will help you and your sales team prepare for what’s coming. To help you hit the ground running, we’ll discuss some of these trends today.
What to Know about Sales Trends for 2021
A Move to Remote Meetings
This isn’t exactly one of the brand-new trends of 2021. The shift to Zoom presentations and remote meetings and work took off as businesses shut down offices and travel during the global pandemic.
But even as the world begins to return to normal, sales organizations have already adapted to this new way of doing business. Many companies may still allow or encourage sales reps to work from home at least some of the time, changing the atmosphere of the office. And business travel likely won’t recover to pre-pandemic levels quickly – or maybe ever.
While face-to-face meetings will always have an important place in the sales process, teams will certainly continue to conduct some parts of business remotely in 2021.
A Change in the Customer Journey
What buyers expect from sales teams has changed over the last year, and those changes look likely to hold true in 2021 as well. This is partly a result of changes in the customer experience. B2B sales isn’t operating quite the same as it used to. As such, businesses are getting accustomed to buying like consumers, who have more and more low-to-no-touch sales experiences.
And this means making the buying process shorter and simpler for your customers is going to be important. Customers don’t have a lot of patience anymore for a long sales cycle with endless meetings and touchpoints in most industries.
Increasing the productivity of your sales reps and refining your sales playbook to the essentials will be vital this year.
More Sophisticated Sales Tools
Working remotely brings plenty of benefits – but it brings challenges as well. Keeping all your sales reps aligned and on the same page is essential. Luckily, it’s easier with the new wave of advanced sales tools out there.
Increasingly sophisticated CRM systems help you track customer data and prospect progress. This way, your sales teams can focus on what really matters and have the right data to make sales decisions. Chatbots and live chat options on websites are also highly popular with customers. This offers them a way to get basic assistance and answers to questions without waiting to talk to a person.
This is an area where business owners should certainly be investing. The money spent will be well worth it in sales ROI in 2021.
Sales and Marketing Working Together
You already know that marketing is an essential partner of any sales team. This is even more true this year – both teams need to be highly aligned to succeed. This can mean working together to create new forms of lead generation like webinars, which are set to be a big trend in 2021 as well.
It can also mean consulting with your marketing team to look at any new needs and desires of your customers. They spend a lot of time paying attention to the latest marketing trends and creating relevant content as well. Hence, your sales team would do well to check in with them often.
Sales and marketing teams working together will be critical to your success this year. So, make sure you have a plan on hand to help that happen.
Customized Customer Experiences
Prospects don’t need a sales rep to guide them through the buyer journey from start to finish anymore. In fact, you probably don’t even have one single customer journey any longer. Potential buyers can choose from a whole variety of channels to engage with your business, from social media to your website to advertising.
This is because prospects can now typically conduct extensive research on your industry and your products or services before they ever make contact with a salesperson. Therefore, you need to pay attention to a whole variety of channels and buyer journeys so that each prospect gets what they need.
And personalizing your product offer to what each unique customer needs is now a given. By this we mean the end of the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach in 2021.
In a marketing and sales-saturated world, it’s getting even harder every year to break through your prospects. There’s just so much noise out there, and your competitors are all likely taking pretty similar approaches. That’s why you need to get at least a little bit creative with your sales approach.
Yet creativity will look different for every sales organization. (After all, if we told you exactly what to do, it wouldn’t be very creative.)
It can mean:
- developing a slightly new angle on your products or services
- shifting your sales approach a bit to stand out from your competitors
- working with your marketing team to develop new ways of reaching prospects
Fortunately, sales teams have already had plenty of experience getting flexible and adaptable in 2020. We can thank the fast-shifting economic climate and restrictions from COVID-19, which forced changes to happen with lightning speed.
And with plenty of research to back up creative ideas, your sales team could really stand out from the pack in 2021.
Fine-Tuning Your Sales Process
This trend might seem like it’s the opposite of creativity, but in fact these are complementary focus areas. In order to let your sales team’s creativity flow, you also need to start from a solid foundation of basic sales processes and a clear sales playbook that provide a roadmap for your sales team to follow.
These items don’t need to be restrictive, but they will help align your whole team and outline what you truly need to focus on for success. Then your sales reps are free to be creative with clear guidelines in place, closing deals instead of creating chaos.
Integrating plenty of customer data from your CRM into how you create and use sales reports and using all of this to create a smart, data-driven sales strategy for 2021 will provide the backbone that lets your creative efforts really shine.
Prioritize Customer Success
Making sure your customers have great support when something goes wrong isn’t enough to succeed in 2021. You should be shifting instead to convincing prospects you’re genuinely interested in helping their business succeed, not just in selling a product.
Instead of focusing on how you help them when something goes wrong, ensure they know you’re here to help things go right for their business and providing a positive customer experience from the first day they become a customer.
Customers are highly demanding these days, especially in the B2B world, so make sure they know you’re up to the task. And they’re also quick to jump to a competitor when they aren’t getting what they want, so ensure your other teams are truly delivering what your sales team is promising to reduce turn-over.
Keeping Up with Sales Trends for 2021
Looking for ways to stand out and hit new revenue heights in 2021? You’re not alone – your competition is looking at the same trends. If you want help getting ahead of everyone else and all the latest sales trends for 2021 as well, you need a customized solution and expert advice to stand out.
That’s what we offer here at 360 Consulting – deep sales expertise driven by decades of experience as well as a constant view of the latest trends and developments.
Schedule your free consultation to find out how we help sales leaders and teams work together to break sales records.