I have pondered on this subject for the past few months. Just what would the best b2b sales strategy for 2021 comprise? I’ve read the latest ranking content in the Google search results, and it tells you the basics, which I am sure will need to be covered off here. But I’ve seen little that talks about the issues that companies face right now, and how those issues may become more prevalent in the future. And also how you should position the business to anticipate this?
So in this article, I want to look at this subject from the businesses perspective and a sales leaders perspective.
But before we jump in on the answers, let’s consider what we need to factor in to get there:
Remote working for sales teams and other factors
What came to light with COVID in 2020 was just how poorly planned disaster recovery had been. By this, I mean looking backwards instead of forwards. Business leaders designed business continuity around the idea of a particular building or premises removed from use. Nobody was modelling the impact of a situation like COVID. And to consider remote working, you have to look at other implications like security, access, technology, training, sickness, holiday and parental leave.
Sales and marketing alignment is the key to success
There is nothing new touching on this subject, yet it is still a common problem in many b2b sales environments. The issue is that the point marketing hands off to sales require a written process. Marketing presents their qualified leads (MQLs) in meetings and sales, presenting deal flow from open to closed business because of the lack of strategy. Tighter alignment, closer partnerships between leaders and team members, with training from marketing to sales on what they do to generate leads would be the required outcome. Marketing shouldn’t just report leads generated as people who have downloaded a “bottom of the funnel” thought leadership piece; it’s more than that. A sales-ready lead (SQL) has to be decided by the sales team, not the other way around - well technically it should be co-decided with a sales lead.
Arm your sales team with the best technology
Companies unsurprisingly are still under-delivering on the technology that their teams need to bring success. Unsuitable CRMs, a lack of automation tools for the sales and prospecting reps, poorly integrated or fractional technology stacks ill-suited for purpose and so on. The investment in technology is an investment in the company, not as some see it as an excuse from teams not hitting quota. Sales reps often are the first to know that their tech is inadequate, but it takes a sales leader to go back to the business and demand some change. But do not do this alone. Likely, your marketing department will also be using some sort of Frankenstein’s monster stack. A mish-mash of roped together technologies that do not sync with each other adds an administrative burden to a team where admin should be the lesser of things to do. Therefore, by combining both groups’ needs to one, you can choose a tech stack that supports the whole sales function.
Understanding your buyer’s journey brings results
For many sales teams a buyer persona, and in marketing segmentation, makes up the criteria for approaching your content and sales. However, you should concentrate on learning what is making your buyers convert. By adapting your approach to making records of the business type, their audience and how your product or service has helped them improve their situation, you can focus on this during further prospecting and sales calls. Trusted advisor status is achieved because you can analyse the problem at hand and offer upfront solutions. Then run an exploratory call to cement your ideas as the most suitable or efficient. That’s not to say buyer personas are redundant; your plan should be to consistently collect more data that provides more valuable insights.
Sales enablement strategy compounds sales results
While some of the previously mentioned subjects form part of the overall sales enablement process, it deserves some focus as a subject. We recently dove deep into this as a separate post so you should check that out too. But arming your potentially hybrid sales team with the right resources, a standardised sales process and the appropriate technology will increase your sales reps ability to close more deals. In addition to closing more deals, you can consistently measure and understand what within your sales process isn’t working and incrementally improve it by testing. You should scale across teams helping all reps close more business and weed out ill-fitting opportunities.
Setting goals, not a quota, treat your staff well
whilst allocation is essential, many people are also looking at their career paths and will need help, guidance and training to get there. Something that can be far harder to do within hybrid sales environments. Reps still want to increase base salary for mortgages, find out how to become a team leader and take on initiatives to boost promotion chances. Be a business that supports personal growth, not just bottom-line development.
Focus on retention and upselling
Part of the best b2b sales strategy for 2021 has to focus on retention and upselling. It’s so crucial to a businesses growth that this should be a dedicated function or role. Quite often, sales reps are good at certain aspects of their job, and their nature usually leads them to focus on acquisition. By allowing sales focused sales reps to focus there, you can provide more advantage to your organisation by having representatives that potentially sit within customer success upselling solutions. Maybe 2021 will see more alignment between sales, marketing and service.
Big-Data in sales is necessary
Data in marketing has long been used to measure performance, but in today’s world, the use of data has gone beyond that. Brands are now using data to measure audience sentiment to produce ongoing, engaging content and sales could well do with adopting a similar approach. Whilst the rise of SaaS makes this process a relatively easy one, b2b sales organisations must bring big-data analysts in-house instead. Having an analyst or bringing in outside consultants, you can develop tools specific to your needs and provide sales teams with valuable insights; they usually couldn’t see
So what is the best sales formula for 2021?
I believe that the best sales formula for 2021 would look something like this:
Fully enabled remote sales teams + aligned sales and marketing + the best collaborative sales automation technology + data-enabled buyer insights + retention & upselling strategy + human capital investment = The best b2b sales strategy for 2021
Without knowing your business, we cannot prescribe the strategy for success. But we can provide you with the equation that you can implement your b2b sales strategy around. The more nuanced mechanics of that strategy are for you as sales leaders. BIAS is always happy to help you flesh these things out, and one of our capable strategists would be glad to help if the need arises. But do take this away and play with it, I’m sure that you will see success if you do all of the right things.