The year 2020 was a long one; almost like we lived a whole decade in just a year. Safe to say it was rich with events, all of which had a significant impact on the business world.
We’ve witnessed a complete restructuring of sales to adjust to the new coronavirus realities. With all the hardships associated with international lockdowns, buyers have become warier of their spending, having to review their purchasing decisions. In turn, salespeople had to react and offer more flexible solutions to promote sales.
This engendered an array of new sales strategies, methods, and techniques; a lot of which have proven to be effective. Those are the ones that are likely to stay and dominate the world of sales in 2021.
If you want to stay at the top of your game, you should know what to expect. The NetHunt team has hand-picked the 11 biggest sales trends for you to hop on in 2021.
1. Creativity is the new sales hack
One of the biggest sales trends in 2021 is creativity. It sounds a bit vague and not at all actionable, but that’s the whole point!
In the face of an economic crisis caused by the pandemic, salespeople have to work twice as hard to ensure their business stays afloat and meets all the quotas. In a situation like that, it’s risky business to rely on chance. Markets have become more and more crowded. Usually, competition drives innovation; it’s only a matter of time before your competitors come up with a new concept and gain an advantage of moving first. No matter how hard you work, if you employ the same methods as everyone else, there will inevitably be someone who’ll outcompete you. The only viable way to crack the code of sales success is to work smarter, not harder.
As a salesperson, you need to look for the things that will differentiate you from everyone else. Do the opposite of what other companies are doing, and you’ll leave a lasting impression. Even the slightest bit of character in your sales strategy can help you stand out from the crowd, especially since a lot of salespeople have failed to recognise this. A jarring number of professionals simply use foolproof tips and strategies they find on the Internet without changing them. As a result, prospects receive the same outreach over and over again, which gives them an incentive. Therefore, you should always adjust the strategies to represent your business and be you.
Remember that there’s a thin line between silly and different when it comes to creativity. At the end of the day, your creative efforts must remain respectful and based on some research. You can’t just roll out a new concept and expect it to work. You should identify your target audience and come up with something they’d appreciate.
2. Implement Thorough Sales Automation
Some trends remain popular throughout the years. They might not even align appropriately with other current trends, but because of their importance, there’s no way the community will go off them. An example of this is sales automation.
Okay, so sales automation is not really a trend, but rather a necessity you must implement for your business workflow to maintain a competitive advantage. A lot of people talk about automation taking away from creativity and personalisation as you try to scale the process. The truth is, it allows you to spend more time coming up with creative ways to sell your products and to personalise your offers better because all the routine tasks are delegated to dedicated software.
NetHunt Hot Tip 🔥
The best way to automate your sales process is to implement a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. It allows you to automate your outreach, set drip campaigns, visualise your sales pipelines, and manage them more efficiently.
You just have to choose your CRM system carefully and find the one that offers the most appropriate functionality to match your business' workflows. For instance, NetHunt CRM introduced a new 'Workflows' feature to take a leap from CRM system to dedicated sales-growth hub. It automates webform capture, drip campaigns, and contact-email linking. Algorithms and notifications make life easier… because sometimes working hard is too much hard work.
Still, it isn’t just a CRM system integration that can help you automate the sales process. Everything related to the sales process optimisation with the software and/or hardware means falls under this category.
3. Value-based Selling
Although it sounds counterintuitive, the best tip for boosting your sales in 2021 is to stop trying to sell! Gone are the days when you could shove an offer into a prospect’s face and expect them to accept it just because it’s ‘an offer they can’t refuse’. In 2021, customers are sick and tired of being treated like cash cows, especially in the B2B world.
The only way to attract your customers’ attention and push them towards making a purchasing decision is to convince them you prioritise their satisfaction over your profit. The most sincere way to prove that is to lower the price of your product, but let’s be real here… Every for-profit business’s goal is to generate as much revenue as possible. Giving out discounts like there’s no tomorrow is likely to make you go bankrupt before anything else. Instead of changing the price, you should change your leads’ perception of your offers. One way to do that is to implement a value-based selling strategy.
Too often, prospects shut down your offer without even giving you a chance to elaborate on it because they think the price is too high. Value-based selling helps you overcome this problem. All you have to do is to identify your prospects’ needs and wants and tailor your offer to them. Make the offer appealing to them by highlighting the benefits they’re going to get out of it!
4. Social Selling is essential
The rise in popularity of social selling further proves that the concept of ‘obvious selling’ is dying out. If you want to increase sales, you need to be delicate and unintrusive.
The idea of social selling has been in heavy rotation for a couple of years now. However, if in the previous couple of years it was merely advisable to wrap your head around the concept, in 2021 social selling is a must-practice for your business to stay afloat.
Instead of trying to sell your product right here and now, you should plant an idea into your prospects’ heads and keep developing it. Move into their heads by always being there for them, answering their questions, and showcasing your expertise online. When they’re looking for a product to buy, you should be the first business to come to their mind.
If you have a business profile on any of the social media platforms, you’re already engaged in social selling. But, if you’re not in control of it and don’t employ the correct strategies, social media activity can do more harm than good to your sales. More and more businesses are getting in on the trend and sell socially on purpose, so unless you match the effort, they can easily steal your sales from you.
The most popular social selling techniques in 2021 are:
- Social listening through monitoring posts.
- Posting relevant to your prospects content.
- LinkedIn Groups activity.
5. Customer success over customer support
Another way to provide value to your customers and convince them to make a purchasing decision is by ensuring them that you’re genuinely interested in their business success. Instead of just focusing on ensuring outstanding customer support, you should prioritise providing a more positive, holistic customer experience. Shifting your focus towards customer success lays the foundation for it.
This trend emerged in early 2020, and was predicted to reach its full potential by the end of the year. However, the importance of implementing a strong customer success strategy has been multiplied by the change of customer priorities caused by the pandemic.
It’s no longer enough to produce a high-quality product and promote it to your target audience. Customers have become more demanding than ever before. Unless they’re a hundred percent sure the solution they invest their money in will work for them, they aren’t going to settle for it. You must be the perfect fit for your customers to stay loyal to your brand and keep generating your sales.
32% of customers claim they’d walk away from a brand they love after just one negative experience.
You’re not waiting for a problem to occur so you could showcase your expertise and solve it promptly. Instead, you’re proactive and reach out to customers first to educate them about your product and how it benefits their particular business. In 2021, the role of a sales rep and a customer success manager is to personalise the business’s product offer in a way that appeals to the customer’s specific workflows and processes.
NetHunt Hot Tip 🔥
In 2021, you must increase the number of demos and walk-throughs to show customers how to reach their full potential and get the most out of a product. On top of that, you can also enrich your communication strategy with assessment calls to review your customers’ accounts and suggest improvements.
6. Bringing All Your Teams Closer Together
Sales are no longer just about the Sales team. Since the customer journey has mostly transferred into the digital plane, all departments have a role in ensuring conversion. The Customer Support team helps you to provide added value to your offer, the IT department keeps an eye on the website and other channels of communication, the Sales team manages sales pipelines (duh!), and the Marketing team… Well, does the rest of it!
It’s the Marketing department you have to team up with. To provide value to your customers and boost your conversion rate, you need to give them exactly what they want. Who’s there in your company that has a better understanding of the needs and desires of the customers than the marketing team? Monitoring the market and staying up-to-date with the latest trends is their direct responsibility, so they know everything about what makes your prospects’ head tingle. It wouldn’t hurt to consult them before you reach out with an offer to your next prospect.
NetHunt Hot Tip 🔥
The best way to ensure your Sales and Marketing teams are always on the same page is to implement a CRM system. Then, both departments have access to all the relevant information about the leads, their position in the sales pipeline, and what marketing activities are needed to to move forward.
7. The emergence of multi-channel, personalised experiences
One of the biggest changes that 2020 brought is the speeding up of the transition of buying and selling into the world of digital. Because of such vast accessibility of information, a large percentage of the buyer’s journey is independent. Businesses can’t predict when exactly a buyer will enter the funnel as it can happen at any stage. On top of that, buyers are no longer tied to a single channel.
This is exactly what salespeople need to take into account in 2021, adjusting their strategies accordingly. Different buyers have different preferences, which means you can’t expect the same approach to work for everybody.
You need to set up a wide range of different channels to serve buyers so that they can choose whichever they prefer best. This implies that you need to ensure consistency of customer experience regardless of the channel they choose. Ideally, you should be able to provide an ability to switch across different channels without losing any information for a seamless buying experience. To meet such expectations, you need to experiment with many different promotional, distribution, and purchase channels.
On top of that, you need to ensure to integrate each channel with a dedicated database. Try a CRM system for example, to collect and organise all interactions with individual leads across channels.
A great option to consider is our recent Intercom integration, check it out here!
8. ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ - Video for Sales
An image is worth a thousand words. The standard for videos is 24 frames per second, so you can imagine how much information even a short video clip can communicate!
In 2021, you should step away from using long texts and shift towards using the video format more. While it’s originally more of a marketing trend, next year, it’s believed to make its grand entrance into the world of sales too.
For instance, for MediaValet, the introduction of videos into their sales process meant they cut their sales cycle by half!
There are different ways in which you can incorporate videos into your sales process and benefit from it:
- Video outreach is more effective than any other form of outreach; a subject line that contains the word “video” is 8x more likely to be opened. (Source: Vidyard)
- Video outreach can be incorporated into any platform as it’s not limited to just email.
- You can enhance your value-based proposition.
- Video tracking gives you an insight into how much of the content a viewer watched and what parts they skipped. You can personalise further communication accordingly and convert leads faster.
- It can make your follow-ups stand out, which ties in nicely with the trend for creativity.
Regardless of the stage at which you decide to introduce video into your sales process, you can improve your results by a lot!
9. Sharing is caring. Webinars are hot for lead generation
Having spent the larger half of the year in a lockdown, a lot of people used the time to better themselves. That’s why webinars as a format have seen such an immense rise in popularity in 2020. In 2021, this trend is expected to grow.
All you need to do to generate more leads is to find a topic that your prospects would find interesting and start capitalising on it. An effective approach to webinar-aided lead generation is to include a native promotion of your product in your lectures. While it’s not recommended to focus webinars entirely on your products (after all, it’s not a demo), you can still bring up your products as a solution to one of the problems discussed.
Depending on the topic of your presentation and the audience you want to target, you can experiment with the platform used to deliver your message, the length of your video, and other factors, such as enablement of live chat and Q&As.
10. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking over.
You can’t ignore the importance of forecasting and analysis in the sales process. To some extent, it can be considered the backbone of sales. Sales teams must conduct a thorough analysis of the metrics they gather to justify the choice of their strategies and assess their current performance.
In 2021, analysis is promised to become easier, more accurate, and significantly less time-consuming. Step-by-step, AI is taking over every aspect of our lives, and sales analytics is no exception. Forecasts formed with the help of AI-powered software can boast having enhanced precision, which can protect you from the risk of coming out of demand on the market.
Some of the sales tasks that can be improved through the use of AI include...
- Clients’ buying trends data collection and interpretation;
- Dissemination of suggestions to customers based on their recent purchases;
- Buying and selling trends forecasting and planning.
11. Adoption of conversational customer experiences
Not to say that cold calling is a thing of the past (you still can do wonders with a bit of good old cold calling if you have your ways), but it’s definitely getting old. In 2021, businesses are improving sales with the help of live chat and chatbots!
This is a direct continuation of the previous trend, as conversational customer experience is closely connected to the rising popularity of using AI in sales. A well-executed conversational customer experience implies better personalisation of communication through an ongoing conversation between a customer and a business. If you know the history between you and your customers, you can offer them better solutions, quicker!
52% of consumers are more likely to make repeat purchases if the company offers support via live chat.
Moreover, 79% of companies say that live chat has had positive results for sales and revenue, with 47% of consumers would be open to making a purchase completely from a chatbot.
According to Finances Online and McKinsey "a whopping 76% of B2B buyers find it helpful to speak to someone in person or on the phone when they want to purchase a completely new product or service. Unsurprisingly, 52% of buyers want to speak with someone when they are in the process of buying a previously purchased offering but with a different set of specifications. Only 15% want to speak in person when they want to buy the same service or product. Finally, only 4% of buyers prefer to always communicate digitally".
Therefore when implementing a conversational customer experience, you need to ensure that you balance out digital communication with human one.
Sales Trends 2021: Conclusion
Competition, indeed, drives innovation. But a crisis drives it even more. The pandemic and new realities it created caused a lot of new sales trends to emerge. Some of them were a forced solution to last during the COVID-19 season, but a lot of them are here to stay and roll over into 2021.
There are a lot of tech-related trends that are aimed at further automating and digitalising sales. There are also lots of trends related to optimising customer relationship management and ensuring personalisation.
What unites the two extremes is the overarching theme of customer-centrism in the 2021 sales trends. The customer and their wishes and needs remain the main focus of the salespeople, now more than ever.