Enabling Virtual Sales Success in 2021: 6 Predictions
As I reflect on the lessons of a long, tough year, I see organizations leaning into the resilience and adaptability shown by teams in all industries. The overnight pivot to virtual workplaces led to huge numbers of people tapping new skills and building stronger personal connections as we worked in at-home offices, some of us side-by-side with our pets, children, and partners.
One big takeaway for Allego: Sales enablement’s moment has arrived. That’s because in 2020, the business of sales was completely disrupted. Last year was a perfect storm: a volatile economic climate, social unrest, the election, and throughout it all the health, workplace, and financial impacts of a global pandemic. These forces have made it more important for organizations to do everything in their power to drive revenue.
Sellers are working harder than ever in this tough economy. Equipping sales teams with the content, skills training, knowledge, coaching, and tools to effectively sell your product or service is essential to survive and, hopefully, grow.
Adapting to the Next Normal
When B2B sales teams shifted overnight to virtual selling, we expected a return to normal within a month or two. But now, according to a survey from Bain & Company of more than 300 B2B buyers and sellers, 80% believe there will be a sustained increase in virtual interactions, even after the pandemic.
This means organizations must take a second look at how they onboard, train, develop, and coach sellers. Sales leaders must adapt strategies and methods to optimize productivity. Looking ahead, we’ll see these adaptations become the next normal.
That’s why sales enablement has arrived. At its core, sales enablement is the ongoing process of maximizing revenue per rep, by ensuring sellers convey the right concept using the right content throughout each stage of the buying process.
Given its powerful impact on the bottom line, sales enablement is no longer optional. It’s a crucial element for survival, growth, and success in the new economy. Read on for six predictions for sales enablement and other trends in 2021.
Prediction #1: Sales Enablement Will Become Essential
This year, buyers and sellers realized how efficient and effective virtual selling can be, and they will be reluctant to give up the time and cost savings of engaging virtually in 2021. Modern organizations must use all the tactics available today to support sellers with a 360-degree sales enablement process. This makes a holistic approach to sales enablement more critical than ever for keeping teams on track. Sales organizations will look to increase flexibility, responsiveness, and alignment with their marketing teams through sales enablement that merges previously siloed functions including training, learning, coaching, content creation, and management.
Prediction #2: Sales Organizations Will (Finally) Consolidate Tech Stacks
The global average number of learning tools and platforms in use today is 23—double the number that companies were using in 2011, according to industry analyst Josh Bersin. Enterprise training and enablement teams don’t have the time, staff, budget, or resources to manage this growing number of software solutions. Using fewer tools that have greater capabilities—tech stack consolidation—makes sense from a financial, administrative, and user adoption perspective. Modern all-in-one solutions that deliver continuous learning, micro-learning, and learning in the flow of work can lead to greater adoption, more satisfied users, and greater sales productivity.
Prediction #3: Asynchronous Video Will Become More Important as Zoom Fatigue Sets In
As screen fatigue reaches new levels, sellers will modify their tactics to incorporate new ways to engage buyers and internal stakeholders. Asynchronous video will become more important than ever as a way for sellers to engage with prospects and share important information. Pre-recorded video will also play a greater role in virtual meetings, sales kickoffs, and training sessions, allowing sellers to view content at their own pace. As sellers become more comfortable with recorded video, they will become more sophisticated and creative in their use of it at all stages of the sales cycle, including using video to personalize buyer interactions and sales outreach.
Prediction #4: Data will Drive Decision Making and Content Creation
Sales teams will begin to use 360-degree analytics that combine insights from sales activity, learning, and content. This data-driven decision making will reveal much more than what content is being shared to indicate which behaviors correlate with success. The feedback from what happens across the buying cycle will inform enablement strategy as well as content creation, deployment, and management tactics.
Prediction #5: Remote Managers Will Find New Ways to Coach and Collaborate
Because teams aren’t working side-by-side in offices and won’t for some time, sales enablement managers need other ways to gather insight into the competencies and skills that need improvement and recognition. The past several months have also shown that coaches can’t just rely on informal means of developing their reps. Formalizing peer-to-peer and manager-to-peer collaboration and implementing call coaching and other tools will have long-term benefits for entire teams, but especially for new hires who can leverage best practices and advice from more seasoned sellers.
Prediction #6: Sales and Marketing Will Align Priorities
To drive sales productivity, sales and marketing teams will need fast and effective ways to capture and curate market trends, competitor and customer intel, and other insights and best practices. We’ll see a greater focus on building alignment between internal teams to ensure that sellers can understand sales content, access assets at their moment of need, recall the concepts and messaging correctly, and deploy content with the right context to educate buyers. Feedback loops and collaboration in the content creation process will solve perennial issues of sales content management including content effectiveness, content adoption, strategic utilization, and sales buy-in.
Enabling Success in 2021
What a year! We all learned a lot, very quickly. We saw a new emphasis on learning and sales enablement, which has led to the development of new content, skills training, knowledge, coaching, and tools to meet this demand. This incredible response to unprecedented times will continue next year, as organizations develop unified strategies and tactics to thrive.
I wish all of you health, successful selling, and happier days in 2021 and beyond.
Download your copy of the Virtual Selling Success Kit to learn how to get your team up to speed quickly in the next normal and produce better results long after the virus has run its course.