As we all look forward to 2021, we need to accept a few things, and then ask ourselves some important questions. First, we need to accept this new reality and the monumental changes it brings. Q1 of 2021 introduces a new political regime with new approaches to business, taxes and much more. Like it or not it’s a fact. Second, the real impacts of COVID19 on business have yet to be seen. One thing we do know is that the business world is forever altered, so approaching business with the same BAU mentality and practices is absolutely insane. This leads us to ask some really powerful questions. With all these changes what’s most important to focus on and execute? What do we have to be great at now? How should we engage with potential customers? How should we alter our communication? How do we iterate and iterate to get as virtual as we can? What are some of the options in selling that we have long rejected that we should now consider? How do we drive activity that creates revenue? And more…. Much more!
Here is a scary but real fact. Projections indicate that over 90% of brands out there will miss their revenue targets in Q1 of 2021. The leading cause of this is a lack of expertise in the new sales world, inadequate sales talent, archaic sales processes, and time. There is limited time to improvise adapt and overcome the fluidity of all the unknown market changes.
With that said, at Leading Edge Connections we pride ourselves as experts in all things sales! We wanted to share a few tips and secrets we are using for our clients to ensure they stay in that less than 10% that will succeed in Q1. Truthfully our hope is to help drive that 90% number down!
So, sip some of your latte, read on and learn more about some tips to achieve your sales goals for 2021. Take some notes and feel free to customize these goals for your sales process.
1) Evolve Your Sales Process To Virtual Selling
If you haven’t done this already it’s step 1 for sure. Not all sales processes are efficient or effective so you must develop techniques that work for your team in the NOW. It’s important to spend time updating your sales process to ensure it is optimized for virtual selling. Take a look at your buyers’ journey. Are there ways to better connect with them, engage them, educate them, and add value for them? Are there bottlenecks that could cause breakage or frustration for your customers or sales people? Think outside the box here!
One thing we did for a brand we work with is take on all their sales development functions. Their sales team members were not experts in 2021 prospecting. The average number of touches for B2B has jumped from 13 to over 20. It didn’t make sense for them to keep high salaried members doing this type of work. They switched some budget around, offloaded some tech costs and outsourced to us. They were able to shrink their outside sales team slightly and reallocate that personnel to internal client expansion.
2) Master Virtual Selling
Modern B2B buyers are harder to reach than ever before. The old way of cold calling, email blasting, and attending networking events doesn’t work anymore. Customers no longer want to be sold to. They want personalized and fresh insights, education, and helpful engagement.
To take your remote selling organization to the next level you must embrace an omnichannel approach to prospecting, which includes digital and video selling. If your sellers lack the skills to create more sales conversations from digital and video engagement, then I would argue, it’s time they acquire them.
3) Have a Thoughtful POV with B2B Prospects
Thoughtfulness is not a trend or gimmick. It makes the business more meaningful. As much as you can, treat everyone—from researching buyers, companies, employees, and competitors carefully and share prospecting insights respectfully. A thoughtful approach to marketing and sales makes customers feel more like people and less like prospective money bags.
4) Improve Value Communication
Irrespective of your product or service, value communication is challenging. An example is when you are selling a product that needs a bit of explaining to understand its uniqueness (for example, cyber security software). Your sales goal in value communication needs to revolve around illustrating the unique properties of the software concisely.
If your sales staff are already practicing proper value communication, then kudos. Otherwise, you will should look at teaching your teams how to focus on value communications.
5) Avoid Pitching Products, Solve Problems
Heavy deadlines and goals naturally drive the temptation to continually pitch products to customers. However, helpful, problem solving content and conversations will always improve the possibility for sales. Instead of often giving product pitches during emails and other communication media, engage prospects to try and solve their problems.
A friend of mine just landed a huge new client with this approach. He engaged them via email after doing some research on the brand and noticed a real challenge for them with driving awareness for their brand. He was able to implement a content automation tool for their site that not only provided more value for the customer’s customers but also assisted with organic online push with Google. It was a win and he landed it due to assisting with a problem vs trying to sell them a service.
6) Improve Sales Team Productivity
As sales leaders, we always worry our team isn’t doing enough to hit the sales target. “Not doing enough” however frequently isn’t a lack of effort or lack of talent. Lack of productivity can often be blamed on a few things:
• Lack of communication between sales and marketing
• Lack of clarity on how to sell your products
• Inefficient onboarding process hindering new hires time to first sale
• Lack of communication between sales team on what’s working and what’s not
One of the best solutions to implement in improving team wide productivity is implementing a Sales Enablement program.
Sales enablement aligns talent, tools, tech and top priorities, while strengthening team communication via frequent sales huddle meetings and helps inexperienced and less skilled sellers learn from the best sellers on the team. Empower your team with the information they need to sell effectively.
7) Identify Your Unique Selling Position (USP)
An important attribute that makes an excellent sales person is the ability to identify assets and exploit them maximally, applying them to your customer’s needs.
Your Unique Selling Position (USP) is what makes your business different from your competitors. A part of your sales productivity timeline targeting should be clearly identifying your USP and then creating a sales process that allows you to highlight your Unique Selling Position to potential customers.
If you cannot give a clear, concise, and compelling answer to the question “what’s your Unique Selling Position?” then you haven’t figured it out yet.
8) Qualify Early and Often
Make sure to qualify potential deals and have mutually agreed with customer success plans written in the customer’s language, validated early and often. Don’t wait to go too far into a business commitment before validating deals. Also, ensure that everyone clearly states their expectations, prices and budgets.
Avoid negotiating late in the sales process and also avoid negotiating with the wrong people. Early negotiation will help avoid becoming entangled in the project without a way out or with a costly way out. Initial talks will go a long way in helping you save money and achieve your set market goals. We still use a version of BANT for this in our SD process to ensure we aren’t wasting people’s time.
9) Add Value To Account Management
Impeccable account management is a way to increase customer retention and maintain or increase total revenue. With account management, the success equation is quite simple: stay top of mind, keep asking questions, ensure you are reporting wins, be relentless with solving problems. Keep your current customers happy and willing to spend, satisfied customers make great references, and are a pipeline to new business.
10) Follow Up!
Following up meetings immediately with customer’s notes, assignments, and plan of actions conveys that the customer’s needs are top of the seller’s priority. If you discussed an action plan, follow up on it and send updates to your customer. Afterward, create a sense of urgency with each detail.
I am amazed at the number of sales calls I sit through each week with sales people trying to sell me their service or product who don’t follow up. They either don’t follow up at all, or they rely on automated emails only. Don’t get me wrong, use those, but follow up with some personal touches. Mostly FOLLOW UP! It’s the easiest part of the job. It creates some urgency and keeps the conversations going. Maybe send a thank you card or show some appreciation for people taking time to listen and speak with you. Simple things go a long way.
There are obviously more items to consider here but these are a great start to move in a stronger direction for 2021. If you struggled with sales and driving revenue in 2020 I would heavily recommend a full audit and overhaul. What worked prior to COVID may not work now. Be willing to start with a fresh whiteboard and start from scratch. Be willing to change staff. Be willing to change sales processes. Be willing to consider outsourcing your sales to companies who specialize in sales. Be willing to hire consultants to help you figure this stuff out. I once had a job and one of the company mottos was “open to change as we grow”. I have always tried to keep that principle close to me. Look at that statement one more time. Open….change….GROW. It’s formula for success.