Remote Selling Economy Predictions 2021
If we have learned anything about people this past year, it’s that we as humans are programmed to innovate and overcome unpredictable situations that arise, no matter how big or small. And as sellers in the B2B SaaS world, we are no different.
If 2020 did anything for the sales world, it certainly forced the entire selling economy into a completely remote motion, only allowing for digital selling practices. For some, this was familiar. For the majority, there was a lot to learn. As we enter 2021, we need to reflect on the lessons learned throughout this tumultuous time and prepare our teams for any upcoming uncertainties that the market may bring.
So the question is, how are you preparing your team for the new remote selling economy?
That is why we are here to share a consolidated list of predictions we have for the remote selling economy in 2021. Our hope is that this helps to familiarize you with potential incoming trends and enable you to think of ways to incorporate them into your team’s selling motions and go to market strategy.
AI and Automation
AI is an incredibly hot topic today and there are entire categories of softwares incorporating AI to help sales teams do more with less. In reality, some of the tools you’re utilizing today might have some AI incorporated but trust us, AI technology and process automation tools have been at the forefront of sales enablement for years, and it is only just the beginning. According to Forrester’s 2021 Predictions, “52% of B2B sales leaders plan to invest more heavily in tools with AI and automation the upcoming fiscal year.” Sales enablement tools, such as CRM data entry and chat bots, that incorporate process automation and AI will increase productivity and allow sales reps to communicate with customers more effectively. In this remote selling economy, the companies that thrive will be open to new technologies that help them grow and scale their business from home. And it starts at the top. The best leaders will welcome the tools that help their team automate workflows and keep them doing what they do best. Selling.
Recommendation: As enticing and effective as AI sounds, it comes with large amounts of invested time and internal resources. To successfully implement AI and sales automation into your org, make sure you're planning out the scope of work, allocating enough time to implement and train on the new software, and creating process check-ins in the following weeks and months. It’s certainly a challenge but when done correctly, it’ll enable you to scale your wins across your entire team and ensure everyone hits their number.
Development Around Sales Pipeline
2020 has shown that many B2B sales orgs have the ability to persevere and do the unthinkable. Before this past year began, who would have thought the entire B2B selling economy could and would be conducted solely digitally? This translates into how the structure of the sales pipeline will advance moving forward and how interactions will change within it. A recent survey conducted by Forrester found that “40% of B2B reps said they plan to modify their tactics to adapt to remote selling activities. (1) Traditionally limited to email, phone calls, and screen-sharing interactions, sellers will look for more dynamic ways to earn buyers’ attention.” It is becoming more challenging to capture and hold potential buyers’ focus, especially in extremely saturated markets. Salespeople must work harder to deliver in-person quality remotely and develop more creative strategies to differentiate their product or service from the rest. It has also been found that video content has shown the highest engagement rates and overall return, which is something that B2B sellers should focus their efforts on moving forward. In addition to attaining buyer attention, many businesses' go-to-market strategies must be re-evaluated in order to stay afloat. According to a study by Miller Heiman Group, “half of B2B buyers make up their minds before talking to a sales rep.” What this means is buyers are becoming more self-sufficient and educated. They are less inclined to talk to sales reps and might prefer to lean on more self-service options during the purchase decision stage of the buying process. It’s more important than ever that your sellers are equipped with the right tools to inform them about their prospects so they can have a productive conversation.
Recommendation: It is clear that virtual selling will soon surpass in-person selling capabilities, primarily due to sales and demo tools that assist sales teams in every stage of the pipeline. To keep your org up to speed, make sure your team is well equipped and properly trained with tools that will enable them to effectively connect with their prospects and articulate the value of your solution, from home. This remote selling economy is different, so we need to adapt. And when establishing sales goals for the new year, seek out ways to ensure your sellers are incredibly informed about their prospect, your product, and specifically how it can solve the pains uncovered.
Access to Talent on a Global Scale
While the remote selling economy appeared to close a few doors this past year, it has opened the door to a much larger pool of incredibly talented professionals to recruit from. LinkedIn’s Future of Recruiting Report found that “81% of talent professionals agree virtual recruiting will continue post-COVID and 70% say it will become the new standard.” This opens up many opportunities for talented professionals to work from virtually anywhere in the nation, or even the world, giving businesses the chance to fill any position with the best of the best. But do not worry! The increase in competition will be balanced out with new emerging roles within SaaS sales that enable orgs to meet their commercial goals. “As many teams shrink in size, B2B sales leaders rank having more stakeholders involved in buying decisions as one of their top two sales challenges. (2) To balance out larger buying groups, B2B sales leaders are enlisting a broader range of employees to deepen and expand expertise,” a key finding via Forrester Research.
Recommendation: The talent pool has drastically increased as a result of remote work and COVID. To take advantage of this opportunity, you need to continue to develop your recruiting methods so you can stand out from the crowd and bring in the best talent. Also, selling with internal colleagues has proven to increase your close rate by over 250%. This emerging talent pool can open up opportunities to build out more sophisticated sales processes with key professionals. Given that buyers are more educated and sales cycles are getting more complex, bringing in key supportive sales hires like Solutions Consultants can really improve your overall close ratio and shorten the sales cycle.
Focuses on Company Culture and Employee Well-being
It is clear how drastically the pandemic has changed traditional career practices, and looking at how these adjustments change the ways employees work is vital to boosting productivity and mitigating work-from-home burnout. Justin Black, Head of People Science for LinkedIn’s Glint Platform predicts how to tackle well-being. “Smart leaders will continue to dismantle programs and processes that don’t add value, and reimagine the basics of work life: physical offices, standard operating hours, how meetings happen and why, and the ways technology is used.” If in-person work is not possible, how will your companies bridge gaps when it comes to communication and strong working relationships? We predict that there will be a sharp increase in funds to enhance company culture and employee well-being to get in front of burnout. It is clear that since strict work-from-home practices came into place, the lines of work and personal hours have become somewhat blurred.
Recommendation: In addition to allocation of funds to better support your employees and their individual needs, focus on how your company can cultivate better and more effective internal development strategies as you scale. This can be anything from virtual team building activities to Zoom lunches or happy hours or setting aside small quarterly stipends to give employees for professional self-growth and development. Make it a point to keep your team connected and show your employees that themselves and the work they are doing matters.
There are probably feelings of excitement and anxiousness about your business in the New Year. Whether you are in an entry-level position or the CEO of a company, it is important to understand and critically think about how your business will change and develop as time goes by and unexpected circumstances arise. We hope you take a moment to congratulate yourself for all of the hard work and perseverance you carried out this past year, it wasn’t easy. Take this opportunity to reflect on your work thus far and set new goals for how you will grow in the coming weeks and months. It’s time to hit the ground running and make this year of your career the best one yet.