If there’s one thing that’s true about 2020 it’s that everything changed. From our personal to professional lives, we’ve had to make adjustments that weren’t always comfortable at the moment.
For sales, 2020 brought on restrictions and social distancing, leading to less face-to-face interactions and remote sales. However, reports show more than three-quarters of buyers and sellers favor remote human engagement over face-to-face interactions and only 20% of B2B buyers say they hope to return to in-person sales, meaning remote selling may continue well past 2020.
Not only did sellers make almost all their sales online, they also had to be cognizant of how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their customers’ financial standings. Although it feels like everything has changed, this past year showed that having effective technology and building strong relationships are still two keys to success in sales. With 2020 behind us, here’s what I expect to see in 2021.
The ongoing death of the traditional PowerPoint
As the selling process continues to move online, sellers are using PowerPoint presentations to connect with buyers. Although it’s a commonly used selling tool, PowerPoints are not effective in-person, let alone online. As 2021 approaches, the need for personalized, engaging conversations and interactive content during sales is greater than ever. A key to making this change is simplifying the information into visual, dynamic and clickable interactive content, utilizing vignettes and interactive navigation to “pick a story” based on the customer’s challenges. In this remote, digital environment, successful sellers will adapt their selling strategy and finally ditch their hundred-page PowerPoint decks.
Marketing and sales leaders working more closely together
Since the customer journey will continue to shift online, marketers and sellers need to be more aligned. Customers might not see the difference between sales and marketing even though there are significant variances between the two. In 2021, there needs to be more engagement amongst sellers and marketers before, during, and after a sale is made. The more connected sellers and marketers are, the less likely buyers are to deal with disconnects, hand-off issues, messaging challenges and more. In the scheme of things, everything that happens before a prospect reaches out to a sales rep and after a deal is closed are both just as important as the actual interaction between the sales rep and prospect.
Simplify the decision-making process through facilitation
When consumers and buyers are stressed, the status quo bias is heightened. This increases the risk of making the wrong decision and the perceived cost of the decision. During the sales process, introducing any complexity in the choice of the solution is seen as a negative.
Before the pandemic, companies could show many different options to customers without running into neurocapability limitations, but that’s been true this past year. Looking into 2021, sellers should simplify the options and make the selling process diagnostic and prescriptive, instead of difficult. Using low or no-risk language, perceived low cost, extreme value and facilitated choice will allow the seller to act as a custom concierge for the prospect and not overwhelm them with too many options.
Proactively deliver financial justification
In 2021, sellers need to share business value outcomes and financial justification early and often. When customers have their budgets cut and are on a spending freeze, it’s vital to turn to financial justification. To be proactive, an ROI business case should be provided on all proposals. Communicating and quantifying exactly how your proposed solution will help your customer cut costs, do more with less, reduce risks and transform to grow is essential and will ease your customer’s mind.
2020 has been challenging in many ways and has significantly impacted the sales industry. With the selling process shifting online, technology has become an even bigger asset for sellers. As old-fashioned tools like PowerPoint get replaced with more visible interactive content and sellers simplify the decision-making process through facilitation, the selling process will continue to evolve.
Having transparent relationships with clients and marketers, along with delivering financial justification early and often to clients will also help sellers achieve success in 2021. Just like most industries this past year, the sales industry has experienced up and downs but sellers have adapted and relied on technology more than ever.
Tom “The ROI Guy” Pisello is an entrepreneur, speaker, and author of the book “Evolved Selling™: Optimizing Sales Enablement in the Age of Frugalnomics.” He joined the Mediafly team in 2018 through the acquisition of the company he founded and led, Alinean Inc. He is chief evangelist at Mediafly, a provider of sales enablement solutions and advisory services that create dynamic, interactive, value-based selling experiences.