If 2020 was the year of unprecedented change, 2021 is where we find our sales strategy edge again. Let’s find out what sales trends leading start-ups, and companies have implemented to succeed this year.
Let’s be honest, for most of us in sales and marketing, 2020 will not go down as a vintage year. (Although, if you’re a Liverpool fan like me, it had its moments!) As we enter 2021, the start-ups and businesses that will succeed are the people who understand that we are where we are. They will formulate a unique strategy to stand out, then execute.
In this article, I want to outline four sales trends which I believe will be all-important this year. Are you ahead of these sales trends?
Sales Trends 1 – Remote Hiring is the new Norm
In 2020, remote working was a necessity. In 2021, this sales trend becomes the norm and creates an enormous opportunity for talented people. Essentially basing themselves anywhere in the world, but still, work for any company they choose. However, it creates an even bigger opportunity for organizations, who now have a worldwide talent pool to pick from. Location no longer becomes an issue for hiring.
Start-up organizations that stay in their comfort zone will always be limited to the mentality, culture and talent pool around them. Companies looking to scale to achieve their growth milestones should be open to throwing out the rule book. Adopting new approaches to hiring, cultivating talent and . For example, hiring from outside your HQ those who understand your culture, and bring a fresh outlook on success.
I know first-hand that this approach can bring significant results. I’m English, but I deliberately developed the ability to understand global business cultures (Israeli, Italian, US, India and more), selling into each, building relationships, coaching talented individuals to become A-players – all to achieve company objectives.
Put it this way. Jurgen Klopp didn’t find Andy Robertson at Barcelona, Bayern Munich or any other of those European giants where you might expect to pick up a top-class full-back. Robertson was at Hull who just got relegated from the Premier League. Liverpool only paid £8 million for Robbo, a bargain for any player with Premier League experience. But now look at him, he’s one of the star left-back in the Premier League and Scotland’s captain. This out-of-the-box hire turned out to be one of the smartest moves Jurgen ever made – the trophies that followed are the proof. He saw raw talent, coached him to fulfil his true potential and created an A-game player.
Organizations I’ve seen implement this sales trends in 2021 are finding something unique and achieving beyond their expected business revenue growth objectives earlier on within the year.
Sales Trends 2 – Out of sight, out of mind? It doesn’t have to be that way!
Your prospects are now hunkered down at home, going from Zoom call to Zoom call. How do you stay at the front of their mind between these Zoom calls? Better still, how you keep them thinking about you when they’re on Zoom calls with other people?
It’s hard. Online meetings don’t allow you to make that same face-to-face connection like you can in-person, nor can you open conversations with new prospects in settings such as business events.
However, the best salespeople still find a way to cement that connection, even if they can’t physically get in front of their prospects. One of the methods I really like, that I think will grow dramatically in 2021, is gifting.
You can send something as simple as a Uber Eats voucher to a prospect (let’s not forget, they’re stuck at home on an endless loop of Zoom meetings!) and it literally makes their day – and they don’t forget it. The value of that connection far exceeds the value of the gift. I’ve seen first-hand that it works. Plus, the gifting platforms make it so easy to arrange, with excellent tracking on the back end. If you haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for?
Sales Trends 3 – Customized relevance at scale
I call it ‘being at one with your prospect’ and I’ve been doing it for years – tailoring your approach to match the way your prospect wants to do business. As online outreach increases, it only becomes more essential. The good news is 90% of salespeople aren’t doing it, which creates significant opportunities for those of us that do!
Let’s be honest. Most online outreach is lazy, generic, and irrelevant. It’s the digital equivalent of ‘dialing for dollars, as they call it in the US. We must now meet our customers on their terms in the digital environment. When you look at the ever-expanding sales tech landscape, it is clear that this is the new normal. When around 70% of a salesperson’s daily role can be automated using optimization, automation, and AI tools, it’s even more important for the remaining 30% to be humanized and specific to the person you’re talking to – something an AI bot or tool cannot do.
I’ll give you an example. Someone recently connected with me on LinkedIn with a message about how I would be a valuable contact for their network (Yawn!). No statement about who they are or what they did, just that. I like to help though, so I connected. Three months went by without any interaction, then suddenly, a follow-up message appeared just talking about her and how well her ‘agency’ doing (No mention of what kind of agency it was). Her next message asked me if I was single, as she thought one of her ‘premium members’ would be a great fit for me! What? Since when did LinkedIn become Tinder?!
Don’t just come out and ask prospects if they’re single and ready to mingle (literally in this case!) without getting to know them first, particularly after such a poor introduction.
When talking with US SaaS firms looking to expand into Europe, I always make the point that in Europe, sales is more about building trust, educating the prospect, giving them the opportunity to come to you rather than you go to them. It’s about having a strong sales enablement strategy to drive inbound leads and/or prospects.
It’s important to understand this when it comes to closing new business. In 2021, salespeople who don’t take advance of the ever-expanding sales tech landscape to help them succeed at scale while customizing their approach in a way that’s unique to each prospect will be edged out by their competitors that do.
4 – Turning product usage into Advocacy = more revenue
The great thing about SaaS is it’s never about the one-off sale – winning new business is only the end of part one of your relationship with your customer. From then on, it’s about keeping them engaged and looking for more ways to help them.
The more you understand your customer, the easier it is to know when they are ready to spend more with you. It baffles me when sales and customer success teams don’t take advantage of the data that their own product produces.
Become more engaged with your customers’ usage of your platform; find out if they make changes, understand why they are spending more time on your platform (or less). Then, take action on this information and sell in real-time.
I believe the ability to react to changes to customers’ platform usage will dramatically increase efficiency for sales and CS teams. It will lead to more local customers, more advocates, and ambassadors who will do the selling for you. You will also notice the difference in metrics, such as reduction in churn and increase in net-dollar retention.
Want to share your thoughts?
Achieving success in 2021 doesn’t have to be hard. It requires some extra thought and planning, but you will rediscover your edge as you put your plans into action.
If you’ve read and enjoyed this article, it would be great to speak to you about your organisation’s European growth requirements.
To find out more about me – and how I support expanding businesses in sales, business development and coaching, visit joshswerdlow.com.