7 Leading Sales Trends Expected To Drive Success In 2021

The sales process has changed a lot over the years – everything from generating leads to closure. OK, not everything but a lot. Changing your sales approach predominantly depends on how customers respond to your actions. The old school selling involved multiple stages before the lead could be designated as ‘hot’.

Prospecting – Sales executive identifies if the prospect fits their ideal customer profile., 

Qualifying – Sales executive qualifies if there is a sales opportunity. 

Need analysis – Sales executive now makes a thorough analysis of prospect’s problem vs. their solution., Value proposition – Sales executive proposes how their solution can bring value to the prospect’s situation and defines the lead’s opportunity.

Change in the Sales Approach – more Inbound

A lot of this process is fading in today’s scenario. Customers are well informed and educated than ever. You would be surprised to know that today 90% of decision-makers don’t respond to cold calls anymore. And why should they? When they have a whole lot of information at just a click away. 

Consumers today define the buying and selling process more than a business. Hence, a shift from outbound sales to inbound sales. The beauty of inbound sales is that it is not confined to a segment and empowers a startup to stand up against a large enterprise.

Let’s rundown at leading sales trends expected to prevail in 2021.

1. Build a Robust Content – Sales Strategy

One of the top content marketing objectives is to drive sales by generating more leads. And the fact is inbound marketing generates 54% more leads than traditional outbound sales. There is a profound change in how people consumed content in the last two years. People today go to search engines, social media, and publication websites to catch up on news and business trends. These browsing habits guide businesses to spread their content across these channels to generate more traffic.

sales Strategy
Image source: Hubspot

How does a change in content consumption impact sales?

  • Create content that showcases your business as a thought leader – Businesses that solve or even address customer problems gain trust.
  • Genuine content attracts more web traffic – Consumers actively approach the internet before making a purchase, either brand specific or general information like ‘how to choose a CRM for startup,’ ‘best CRM solution.’ Optimize the content based on your business model.
  • Content answers customer questions – 80% of business decision-makers look for company information from articles over advertisements. Look through frequently asked questions about your business and post answers so that potential customers can avail them in exchange for their email address or contact number.
  • Content causes conversion: Create content for leads at every stage of the sales funnel. Top layer content is generalized. Middle layer content should be more informative. The bottom layer content should be more engaging with calls-to-action and landing pages for better conversions.

2. Social Selling

Ideally, salespeople should hang around where their customers are – and that’s social media at the moment. According to the above example, consumers look at social media for answers – Facebook (76%), Twitter (41%), and LinkedIn (36%). 78% of salespeople who sell through social media outperform their counterparts who do old-school selling. Period.

This sales technique involves better engagement with better results because you don’t constrict customers to choose your platforms to interact but wider your approach and sync into their mode. Social selling is not just a lead generation platform. However, on a higher level, it’s building better relationships, being involved in customer conversations, defining yourself as a solution provider, and finally building a brand that people love.

Why should you go for social selling?

  • Hang out where your customers are – Customers are already online searching for potential products, researching them online, conversing and asking questions on their needs, and zeroing in on a solution even before reaching a sales professional. And that’s why today, customers complete 57% of the purchase decision even before calling a supplier. So, when you don’t answer to customers, you are leaving them to your competition.
  • Build solid relationships – Social selling is all about being as transparent as possible to your customers. When you listen carefully to their conversations – regarding your brand, competitors, industry, product – you gain insight into the real problems. When you know the problem, your approach becomes personalized and relevant. 31% of B2B professionals believe that social selling helps them build deeper relationships with customers.
  • Imitate your competition – It’s said, ‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.’ Salespeople know this very well. Keeping an eagle’s eye on your competition is extremely critical and helps you improve yourself. A whopping 90% of top salespeople are already using social selling.

3. Sales Automation – Balancing Automation and Personalization

Sales automation is the key for salespeople to reduce sales management and enhance human touch. An automation tool should reduce the salesperson’s burden and connect him more with his customers and make their journey smoother down the funnel. Bots should serve salespeople to enhance their human interactions but not replace them – so there’s a balance between automation and personalization.

How can you personalize the sales process through automation?

  • Understand your user – There are two ways to do that, demographics data (ideal client profile) and behavioral data
  • Collect behavioral data – Through web forms, emails, landing pages, weblinks, website.
  • Use the data to nurture leads, personalize the emails, and create dynamic content.
  • Alerts – Sales can use the real-time alerts when a prospect downloads the content, visits a web page, submit a form, views the price page.
  • Track emails – Monitor the actions of prospects when they open the email, click through links in the email, what content they are interested in etc.
  • Eliminate cold calling – This data allows you to know your prospects and pitch aptly for the sales call.

4. Video Prospecting

There is a huge demand for video content because people are not interested in reading lengthy text emails. Did you know that 70% of B2B buyers and researchers watched videos all along their buying journey, and most of them watched a 30-minute video? 

Video creates a massive opportunity for sales by impacting open and click-through rates. Even adding a ‘video’ keyword to the subject line can positively impact the open rate. This data is reflected right in your CRM. Start using videos in your emails for higher engagement and better ROI. Create videos that answer frequently answered questions, tell a story regarding your products or services, or keep your team interviews.

5. Lead Nurturing – Focus on the Middle of the Funnel

A new dimension for sales to nurture their leads is to focus on that middle of the sales funnel, which receives much less attention than the top or bottom of the funnel. The top funnel is continuously filled in with the marketing team by generating new leads, and the sales team works at the bottom of the funnel through closures. But what needs to be realized is that the middle segment already has leads that are nurtured for quite a bit, and a push can cause huge conversions.

Why should sales focus on the middle of the funnel?

  • Improve lead quality – Middle funnel is where the marketing team handles leads to the sales team. If there is a misalignment between marketing and sales, there could be high chances of generating low-quality leads. Define ‘lead’ together to enhance the quality and thus closures.
  • Improve conversions – Leads in the middle of the funnel are already nurtured well and passed to the sales team. So, when you have a cringe in numbers, you can dig this segment and nurture them to close.

6. Virtual Learning and Gamification

Every sales department today faces two primary challenges: 

How to improve their team’s performance? – Salespeople perform better when they know what they are selling. You will be surprised to learn that 84% of learning content is forgotten within 90 days of training.

How to motivate your sales team? – This might not come as a surprise because a well-trained and continuously motivated team can do wonders for business. Sales gamification software enhances the sales process by adding healthy competition amongst the sales team.

How can you oomph sales performance?

  • Provide your sales team with e-Learning – Expand the training to other formats like online webinars, podcasts, videos, and other eLearning modules for the sales team who can learn on-the-go.
  • Inculcate the habit of micro-learning – where they are given access to just what is required for them.
  • Make all these modules available on mobile – so they apply the learning when they are at the field sales meeting.
  • Implement a gamification software to measure sales team accomplishments, recognize achievements that develop friendly competition, and improve performance.

7. Integrated Teams

Coming 2021 will see data, data, and more customer data. Who are your customers, what’s your winning product among customers, what has changed in the past – these questions lead salespeople to sketch their path. The best winning businesses understand that sales is not an independent department but an integration of sales, marketing, and customer support teams together. The increasing ability of companies to link these departments will win more customers.

Why should the sales team focus more on integration?

  • Customers don’t see businesses as departments – When customers make a purchase, they expect businesses to serve them as they were promised by the salesperson. Often salespeople promise something (to win a deal) which might not be feasible to the customer support team, or they promise certain features in the product which are not offered at all. This is because many businesses operate in a siloed structure.
  • Every interaction is part of the same communication. When marketing, sales, and customer service are operated in a siloed structure, you are liable to answer in three different ways to a single customer. When every touchpoint is recorded and created a single view, the voice remains one.
  • Collaboration for retention – Collaboration among teams is required for new customer acquisition and retaining the old customers.

Your Turn

Let us know what trends you expect to see in your sales team as you move to 2021.

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