How to create a sales strategy for 2021?

2020 has been a horrendous year, in many ways. A global pandemic has swept the world, causing death, disruption and major economic upset.

But there is hope. There is always hope. Even though it’s not going away anytime soon, hope is springing from progress with vaccines, and from countries around the world strengthening their response and preparedness in various ways.

It will take time for the world to recover from this.

As the virus gets under control, and as vaccines become readily available, global economies should recover. Planning a sales strategy for 2021 is perhaps not as challenging now as it could have been, thinking back only a few months ago.

Ongoing ‘new normal’ for 2021

Firstly, you need to factor Covid-19 into the picture. It isn’t going anywhere quite yet, and that does mean countries may go in and out of lockdowns. Or have other restrictions imposed to keep everyone safe, which may ebb and flow depending on the infection rate and state of national health services.

For sales teams, this almost certainly means that face-to-face meetings aren’t advisable. Employers should do all they can to minimize risk for staff in this challenging time. And that should mean working from home (WFH) for the duration of this global pandemic.

Whether a team was in the field, inbound or outbound, everyone should be working from home, whenever possible. You need to ensure teams have the best spaces in which to work, alongside the most effective technology to work from home.

As part of this ongoing adjustments, companies need to ensure they’re supporting salespeople. This means helping them keep to a routine, and managing them, without micromanaging. Ensure if they need extra support, or time off, they get it. These are challenging times, and no one is going to work at their best if they feel like managers and companies don’t care.

However, as you might be asking: How does this influence creating a sales strategy?

How to create a sales strategy within this new normal?

Understanding the above, the reality of the world companies are now operating within is important. You can’t plan for 2021 thinking it’s ‘business as usual.’ Life and work isn’t really going to get back to normal until there is a safe, scaleable, readily available vaccine, with high enough adoption rates, to get this deadly virus under control.

Consequently, this pandemic and lifestyle restrictions it causes, alongside the economic damage, needs to be factored into the cost of doing business. At the same time, companies need to hit sales targets in 2021.

How are B2B sales leaders going to achieve next year’s goals, under these strange new circumstances?

#1: Set realistic goals

When it comes to achieving goals in 2021, you first need to ensure they’re realistic.

Very few companies and sales teams have hit their target this year. That’s understandable. In many cases it would be remarkable if sales teams had been able to continue as normal, and every customer and prospect equally carried on as if nothing had happened.

So for next year, targets need to factor in the economy and overall global environment. Make the targets realistic and achievable. In order to set these, look at what worked in 2020, and what didn’t, and create a strategy around the data and relationships in your sales pipeline.

#2: Assess what worked in 2020

Look at the data.

Look at your customer relationships, partnerships, your position in the market, and state of the sales pipeline.

Has everything picked up, recovered somewhat, since this pandemic started?

If the answer is yes, then you must be doing something right. Assuming the market for your product or service hasn’t vanished, then focus on what you did to drive forward a recovery.

Or if one or more markets that you serve have really struggled, have you been able to pivot? Switching directions, strategies, markets and even launching new products and services has been a smart way for companies to survive this pandemic.

Assuming you’ve survived 2020, companies can look at how to thrive under new circumstances in 2021. Assessing what’s worked, and what hasn’t, is the best way to formulate a plan for the year ahead. Do this at a higher level, and then ensure your whole sales team has an input, and has a plan for how they will bring new clients in next year, and increase spending amongst current customers.

#3: Go fully remote (and use video)

Continuing to attempt face-to-face sales meetings during a deadly pandemic isn’t safe. As many sales leaders as possible should have already, or should be, encouraging teams to work remotely, and ideally from home.

Switching to remote helps sales teams hit targets, with 64% of sales leaders hitting or exceeding target that went remote, according to HubSpot.

When it comes to sales meetings/calls, the most effective technology is video platforms, such as CrankWheel. 74% of sales leaders found that video, whether remote screen-sharing or Instant Demos, helped them hit target.

Sales teams that underperformed rarely used video, or didn’t use it effectively. Video is known for being 34x more effective than phone or email, as a way of engaging with prospects.

#4: Implement automation

Automating as much of the sales process increases conversion rates. It reduces time that you need to spend on tasks that can be scheduled. Sales teams that use meeting schedule tools, quote generation, and automated content or emails, are 61% more effective than those who don’t.

#5: Have sales enablement materials ready

Sales enablement materials, such as case studies, presentations, and proposal documents are equally essential for success. Yet again, 65% of organizations that hit or exceeded targets either had a person dedicated to this function, or worked with an external provider to create materials.

Planning for 2021 is not the same as making plans for a normal new year starting. We are all living through challenging and abnormal times. The economy is weaker than it has been in generations. Recovery will happen, but slowly, and haphazard, depending on sectors and countries.

Sales provide the right tools, targets and strategies to support their teams effectively, and push forward to hit targets in 2021.

CrankWheel: Cut your sales cycle in half with instant screen-sharing. Go from two or more sales calls to one: Become a one call close sales team.

Originally published on the CrankWheel blog.