Markus Lehto Feb 2021 10 min read

Modern sales trends - this is how we sell in 2021

What we’ve learned in 2020 is that anything can happen. We also learned that agile and flexible organizations were able to adjust their game and come out from the storm as winners. On the other hand, the ones that stuck to their old ways suffered the most. For this new year, the change will continue. Here are 5 trends that will affect the way that we do business, organize our teams, and meet our customers.

The Era of Sales Superstars is Over - It’s Time for Teamwork

The modern B2B sales process is complex. As Gartner puts it in the recent CSO Update – the sales process looks more like a big bowl of spaghetti than a neat step-to-step linear process. For this and many other reasons, the era of sales superstars is over. No one can control such a complex process and so many touchpoints alone. It’s time for teamwork.

Unposed group of creative business people in an open concept office brainstorming their next project.-3

The new era of teamwork goes beyond just the sales functions: prospecting, lead generation, nurturing, and closing. It crosses also traditional business function borders. In modern sales, there is no need for separated functions of marketing and sales anymore. For some reason in many companies marketing and sales teams are two rivalries in thick-walled silos. The only interaction between the two is when blaming the other for unprofessionalism, lack of vision, and laziness.

Now, in winning organizations, this has to change. This year we will see many sales organizations turn into actual teams. Just like in sports clubs where there are different roles with different skill sets – sales teams need new roles in order to succeed. That’s why we’ll see many new holistic sales playbooks taken into use. On a B2B buying journey, there are a lot of steps to be taken by a customer, they need a well-coordinated sales team to help them all the way through.

Content is the Tiger and the Lion King

In today’s business no matter what the need is there are countless solutions. The amount of info available is overwhelming – too much for anyone to handle. That’s why trusted partners are priceless but if you are up to sell anything, you better make sure that your content is top-notch too.

In many B2B sales processes, there are touchpoints between the buyer and the seller even before the seller knows that the buyer exists. These touchpoints are beyond the sales team's control. Anyway, at each touchpoint the buyer makes the decision, will they move forward or choose someone else.

All content, no matter how high up it is on your AIDA funnel, is sales supporting content

So, all content, no matter how high up it is on your AIDA funnel, is sales supporting content. You never know which is the first piece of information that your customers get about you. And needless to say, on each step, there should be relevant content available to support the interaction.

What is relevant content then? Well, modern sales is all about designing and redesigning your business, products, and services. But it also is about designing your story and content over and over again. Design, ship, analyze, redesign and repeat. Your product is never ready and neither is your sales deck.

virtualmeeting

Video Speaks Louder than Thousand Zoom Meetings

2020 was the year of virtual meetings and webinars. As transportation companies had their worst nightmares turning into reality, the stocks of the video conferencing tools went through the roof.

Because of the Zoom fatigue, the next step in the evolution of sales will be the rise of asynchronous video conferencing. Pre-recorded videos and on-demand webinars have many strengths in comparison to living virtual meetings. With planned script and edited content they are more on point and shorter. The video can be watched whenever wherever and over and over again. They are also easy to share forward to all of the decision-makers.

Video, when it is well made is a more efficient way to get your message across compared to written text. With a little editing, one script and production can end up with multiple versions to be used in different touchpoints.

Jargon Schmargon - More Clarity in Communication

Everyone is living in a bubble when it comes to communication. Every business has its own communicative conventions, jargon, and buzzwords. Besides, to be able to be found through search engines the content must be optimized in a certain way. In the comfort of your bubble, it is easy to forget that your audience isn’t necessarily in the same bubble.

Sometimes the communication is like Joey of Friends speaking French

Even though the product or service seems simple to the ones who spend most of their time awake working with them, it doesn’t mean that they actually are. Sometimes the communication is like Joey of Friends speaking French.

The buyers don’t have the time or the energy to translate jargon to human language. That’s why this year we start to see fewer and fewer abbreviations and non-sense letter combinations in sales content. The sales organizations will try to find ways to explain complex things in understandable and quickly adaptable ways. At the end, who does that the best, wins.

F2F Meetings Will Make a Comeback

As things eventually return to more normal and restrictions caused by COVID-19 will reduce, we will see a renaissance of face-to-face meetings. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the meetings we’ve moved to virtual surrounding will be virtual for good. Simply because of the obvious benefits eg. saving time and fewer travel expenses. On-site presentations as such might indeed become a thing of the past.

Multiethnic group of young business people using laptop sitting on meeting in conference hall

Anyway, we shouldn’t underestimate the natural need of people to meet physically. The fact is that there are hundreds of thousands of extroverted sales professionals just sitting frustrated in the silence of their homes, waiting for a sign that it’s safe enough to go out and meet other people.

We’ll see how organized business events and fairs, lunch meetings, after works, cocktail parties, etc. will boost popularity towards the end of 2021. And there will be a heck-of-a-lot of selling happening in there too. The role and the ways of f2f-meetings in sales might have changed, but the importance and the need for human-to-human interaction for our social species haven’t dropped one bit.