The year 2020 was a long one with a domino effect of unpredictable events that changed the shape of many things, including businesses and sales.
We saw a complete reshaping of the “way things work” as all adjusted to the new coronavirus realities.
Sales teams didn’t have much choice but to adapt to the fast-paced changes as they developed. There are always the ones who take the lead in acclimatizing to the changing sales trends, keeping Darwin’s survival of the fittest battle alive.
One characteristic of the best-in-class salesperson separates her/him from the rest-- a knack for finding growth opportunities and sales trends before their competitors.
But sales leaders turn it a notch up-they adapt and adopt faster than anyone else.As we enter 2021, we’re better prepared for both COVID-19 and the challenges facing businesses. Here’s a compilation of some of the top sales trends that will help you stay at the top of your game.
Top sales challenges of 2020: A trend study
A study by a global sales performance analysis company tells us that some of the biggest challenges in sales today come from the following areas:
There is a growing awareness about the need to invest in new sales technologies such as CRM apps and AI. Yet a survey by Datawell found that only 1 in 5 sales teams have the right tools.
On the other hand, Deloitte’s 2020 Global Marketing Trends Report highlights that at a time when the need for human connection has taken center stage, C-suite executives feel human-centric actions will take center stage in sales trends of 2021.
Initiatives such as strengthening customer engagement and increasing its impact on society are some of the top priorities. Interestingly, polled customers felt the same way. More than a quarter of consumers said they walked away from companies they perceived to be acting self-interestedly.
The message is quite simple: Efficiency may be of prime importance for survival. But when people are demanding more from businesses, marketing post COVID-19 will be about establishing authentic human connections.
Top 9 Sales Trends For 2021
1. AI for Sales Automation
AI’s ability to predict customer behavior is a remarkable advantage and can transform the sales experience. AI allows sales teams to gather and analyze data about their target audience’s buying needs with unprecedented efficiency.
Data collected can be utilized to formulate a successful sales and marketing pitch. Deeper analysis can help gather insights into sales trends that are gaining strength both locally and globally.
A marketing report by Salesforce has found that high-performing sales teams are 4.9X more likely to use AI than others.Organizations are increasingly realizing the benefits of using AI to boost lead volume, close rate, and overall sales performance.
New Researches predict that between 2017 and 2021, CRM activities powered by AI will boost revenue by $1.1trillion.
2. The Need to Prioritize the Human Experience
The pandemic has made us realize the importance of the human element in our lives. Digital devices have overwhelmingly taken over at the cost of human interactions. But it is the human in the digital that makes the digital experience meaningful.
As Deloitte’s Global marketing trends report 2021 states: Customers are rewarding companies that authentically— and holistically—meet their needs. When a brand brings value-based solutions in the marketplace, it builds the foundation of a human experience: Trust.
Here are a few interesting insights by Delliote and PWC:
- Greater productivity and efficiency are the top outcomes executives hope to achieve while responding to COVID-19.
- One in four people said they walked away from brands they believed acted in self-interest.
- At the same time, more than 70% agreed that they valued the digital innovations that deepened their connection with others during COVID-19.
3. Repurposing Your Demographic
Organizations with a clear positioning and cultural ethos make a mark for themselves. They are better placed to navigate unprecedented changes. With thousands (and more) of brands competing with a common customer base, what is it that creates preference?- A purpose-driven enterprise.
The global mood is shifting as new consumer patterns emerge- Millenials are now adults who take their own decisions, and Gen Z is still impressionable. The ground idea that speaks to the new demographic is that of a social enterprise--profits combined with societal impacts.
In a historic time like this, it’s crucial to understand the changing needs of your customer base and create focused, personalized goals for your business.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, which surveyed 34,000 individuals in 28 global markets, people see corporations as the most competent group to solve global issues, even more so than nonprofits and governments.
The world is looking at businesses for solutions. This creates a blank slate for the shape your product can take and the multiple, diverse customer base that you can touch with your solution.
4. Combine Agile Marketing with Sales
In a survey of 2,447 global consumers, 58% were able to name a brand that quickly adapted to the “new normal” induced by COVID-19.
For a fast-paced digital world like ours, marketing and sales work closely together. The customer funnel from awareness to purchase behavior is in a constant state of compression, as actions that affect each other become significantly interlinked.
As Jon Simpson, a Forbes council member mentioned- In a market flooded with content, consumers are exposed to anything between 400 and 10,000 advertisements per day, each vying for their attention and changing as their tastes change.
Agile marketing can help keep up with the ever-changing flood of data. It requires a single, unified organizational view of the customer, which should help you rapidly prototype and launch new offerings.
5. Foster Customer Participation in Your Sales Strategies
Customer engagement is becoming a two-way street, where they engage closely with the brand as ambassadors, influencers, collaborators, and innovators. As a brand, your sales efforts should move towards crafting engagement strategies that include action from your audience.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a rapid increase in customer participation globally. Here’s a graph to understand different ways in which customers have been engaging
Organizations also are quick to recognize this and are creating more opportunities for their audience to engage. PWC research tells us that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a more significant customer experience.
A Temkin Group research found that companies that earn $1 billion annually can expect to earn, on average, an additional $700 million within three years of investing in customer experience. SaaS companies, in particular, can expect to increase revenue by $1 billion.
China’s social ecosystem is an excellent example of how brands are leveraging engagement with people. The rise of KOLs (key opinion leaders) on social media and the trust base they create is unknown to the western markets.
KOLs are so important in China that a comprehensive digital marketing strategy targeted to local consumers includes managing KOLs. To illustrate this phenomenon, last year, a famous Chinese KOL sold 100 limited edition Mini Coopers in 5 minutes on WeChat!
6. Social Selling Will Grow
Social selling is probably the most powerful and fast-developing facet of the sales ecosystem today. CSO insights found in a survey that about 31% of B2B professionals agree social selling has helped them build better relationships with customers.
The foundation of selling rests on the fact that buyers today like to be more informed on what they’re buying than ever before. One of Accenture’s case studies tells us that today 94% of customers do research online before purchasing a product or a service.
Social selling fits well with the concept of personalized selling. Through social selling, you’re giving out information about your products to people who are already interested, thus showing them the path towards your offerings.
7. Invest in Sales Training
Employee training is the touchpoint of many other trends- the human experience, customer-centric approach and core values.
According to a study, new sales representatives need an average of 10 weeks in training for their role. However, 26% of reps say that their training is insufficient. Employee training is an essential part of ensuring that your sales team understands the direction you have carved for your organization.
Many studies are just a google-away to show the kind of revenue benefits companies experience when they invest in training their employees. In a world like ours, when things change faster than seasonal winds, training sessions will keep your team up to date with the latest market shifts, which leads to better product solutions.
8. Make CRM an Integral Part of Your Sales Processes
CRM should be the primary tool of your sales teams. Statistics back its effectiveness and benefits. Using CRM techniques and applications have been proven to increase sales by 29% and sales productivity by up to 34%.
Most sales reps spend their time on non-selling tasks (admin, manual data entry, coordination, etc.), which can be handled by a CRM solution, hence reducing your sales processes.
Sales teams need CRM doesn’t need much convincing. It needs wider and innovative applications suited to inherent business needs.
9. Strategize your Sales Channels
Omnichannel sales has been the trend of the decade, if not before. It means you create a single purchasing experience no matter where your customers buy your offering from.
The advantages of omnichannel engagement are many, and there are facts that show how businesses retain 89% of their customers.
But with D2C seeing a massive surge in 2020, it is an exciting segment to consider in your long term sales strategies. Studies are bringing to light how customer preferences are changing with the rise of D2C selling.
About 55% of consumers prefer to buy directly from brands rather than multi-brand retailers. 50% of them visit brand websites to get more comprehensive information about offerings.
The pace at which things have changed in the last few months seems overwhelming. We’ve yet not made peace with the ‘post’ pandemic era, and it’s likely that more unpredictable market patterns might emerge over the next few years.
But the exciting part is, it creates space for innovations and experimenting with the existing patterns. For more tips and tricks to improve your work productivity, check out these posts packed with quick and relevant tips: