The countdown to 2021 is on. Oh, who are we kidding? For many of us, this countdown started back in March. Regardless, this past year has left an impression on businesses, good, bad, or otherwise. One area of business we were especially interested in gaining some outside perspective on was sales. So, to help jumpstart your 2021 digital sales strategy, we invited some of the best and brightest in B2B sales strategies and technology for a discussion on breaking through to buyers when business environments are turned upside down.
Hindsight is “2020”
They say that hindsight is “2020”, so we wanted to reflect on a year that was anything but business as usual and see what could be learned from it. There are some things we’d like to keep and others we’ll be sure to leave behind. Ultimately we wanted to learn how this pandemic shifted sales processes and how HubSpot, SalesReach, and Vidyard adapted to this change.
Buyer Expectations and Experiences
When asked about 2020, our panelists all agreed there was no question that COVID caused sales to change the way they engage with prospects, but the reality that sales needed to start working in a more digital-first way, was not recent news.
Orfanos noted that you should really be looking at everything you’re doing and calibrating your go-to-market and digital sales strategy to the new expectation. “It’s been moving that way for a while, but COVID made it go into warp speed.” That said, he cautions that you shouldn’t just rush to do whatever is new. Look at your services through the buyer’s lens and what they expect, and then determine what new strategies you want to adopt.
It’s also essential to make the buyer experience seamless from the start. Wardle encourages people to create the best experience possible from the minute prospects hit your website. “Whatever the customer needs is what you should be thinking about.” Things like the ability to directly book meetings online or adjusting your sales process based on customer needs.
Reducing Friction in the Sales Process
With so much change in how we do business, all of the areas you would expect to reduce friction in the sales process are spiking—things like online chat and videos. People want answers now. How does a sales leader get a sales team over their own friction when the speed of change is so fast, especially when it comes to video, online sales demos, and more?
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Video for Sales
When it comes to video for sales, Wardle says the best way to start is just to start. He notes that the more authentic you can be, the better, only with some decent lighting. We know not everyone has time to make high quality, custom videos all day long. Nor should you.
Wardle recounts an example of his team making a quick “really excited to see you” video sent to leads. It got a 10% response rate! That same team decided to make a more professional video for another segment of leads and had half as many responses. Why is that, we asked? “You can see it was human-made, it wasn’t marketing, wasn’t polished. Think of it as a handshake at a conference. That video you send is that handshake. Make it personal- not overproduced. Just get started.”
Online Sales Demos
When it comes to your sales strategy, in-person sales demos were likely a very common occurrence for many pre-COVID. And while many of us might be facing “Zoom fatigue,” it’s still important for sales to get that face time with prospects, even if they are virtual or online demos. In fact, research has shown that the more face-to-face time or time spent on camera vs. sharing slide decks, the better. The closed/won deals were 41% more frequently pushed through the sales cycle. That’s how powerful face-to-face is.
So, what do you do when you can’t meet in person? What lessons have been learned to break through with B2B buyers?
Fedie says, “You really need to embrace the fact that the best sales professionals – they’re all great entertainers. This digital thing through us for a loop, though, because it’s easier to take prospects to a restaurant or a golf course to build that relationship. So now you have to figure out how to be an entertainer on sales calls or demos.” He advises:
- Be more interactive
- Make it an experience
- Have some Q&A
- Call out specific stakeholders during demos to address their questions
- Work harder to make sure they’re entertained, informed, and educated
While keeping prospects engaged and entertained is important, Orfanos takes it a step further to say that you need the value to back it up. At HubSpot they have a saying, “Add value before you extract value.” So take your demos and sales process and try to add as much value as possible. He says this is most impactful mid-funnel. “If you can nail personality and value that’s amazing, but if you had to choose one of the two- value first.”
It’s also important to remember what you’re coaching your reps on now. When it comes to friction and how to reduce it, Orfanos pointed out that 82% of managers and leaders say that they’re providing coaching but when those reps were asked, less than 50% felt they were being coached. Can you say low hanging fruit for reducing friction?
2021 Digital Sales Strategy Top Priority
When looking to drive and start pushing forward modern, digital sales strategies, we wanted to know what’s a top priority for these sales leaders—knowing that resources aren’t unlimited. Where does one start? What’s the top priority in creating a strong digital sales strategy?
Choose the Right Tools
Fedie suggests asking your team what they’ll actually use and what they’re comfortable using. He also said he sees many times that it isn’t sales leaders choosing tools for the sales team, it’s marketing, without having the necessary conversation with sales about what they actually need. “You’ll have a lot more success and rate of adoption if you get input from sales when choosing a sales tool.”
Adapt to Change
For Wardle, tools are secondary. He says, more importantly, it’s taking a step back. Businesses have changed, and maybe your sales reps haven’t changed yet. Understand what’s changed and how you’re going to coach the reps and be more effective. If you’re doing things the same as you were back when we could go to conferences and meet in person, it’s time to reevaluate. Once you’ve figured that out, then you can get into tools and strategies.
Align with Your Buyer
Tools, coaching, and last but not least, aligning with your buyer. Orfanos says in addition to tools and coaching, if there was ever a time to do this, it’s now, and that is your need to ruthlessly align with your buyers. Ask yourself:
- Are you really locked in with marketing on who the target accounts are?
- Are you fully aligned across the company on the target accounts?
- Have you done the map of how your prospects expect to buy from you?
- Are you actually delivering on those expectations?
Looking Ahead to 2021
Despite the challenges that this pandemic brought to businesses and the sales process, there’s still a lot to look forward to in the year ahead. We wanted to know what our panelists were most excited about for 2021.
Orfanos enjoys seeing the outside rep become more of an inside rep and inside reps moving to more e-commerce. He says, “If you can figure out the right blend of selling online and selling through reps, you can create a really efficient customer friendly model.”
Fedie says he loves seeing how quickly people have embraced technology, in good ways. “We’re starting to see more good come out of tech than bad. You’re still able to create meaningful relationships without having to travel to prospects and I don’t think that’s going away. That brings me the most joy and excitement.”
Wardle sees the world moving to broader adoption of video – that the default will be FaceTime for the enterprise and will live long beyond this pandemic. “Virtual selling is here to stay.”
- Look at everything through your buyer’s lens and then work to create as seamless a buyer experience as possible.
- Work to reduce the friction in the sales process, whether in your videos, online demos, or sales coaching. Things have changed and sales needs to change with it.
- Align with your buyer, but don’t change for the sake of change. Find out what your buyer expectations are, and create your digital sales strategy around that.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things. You need to embrace new technologies, new efforts, and new ways of doing things.
A big thank you to our three panelists and all of you who joined in! It was educational, informational and entertaining.