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3 key trends that will define the B2B sales process in 2021

In sales, change is a constant, but this year is the beginning of a new era. See what’s making a difference for successful teams heading into a new age

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With our bellies full after holiday meals, it’s time to start filling up our sales pipelines. The past year was rough for a great many folks, so don’t be ashamed if your prospects are looking thin!

We know, we know. You’re probably absolutely SICK of hearing about Coronavirus, but it’s impossible to plan for 2021 without taking into account its presence in our lives. The drawn-out pandemic still brings a lot of economic uncertainty with it, but we’ve finally started to adjust to remote working ‒ and living!

Because the pandemic stopped most people from carrying on business as usual, the successful businesses this year were those willing to try new things and change up their operations a bit. With that in mind, it’s time to get ahead of the 2021 sales curve by jumping on board with these B2B sales trends that will set the stage for the coming year.

Multi-channel, digital sales processes

Digitized communication was already a growing trend. Not only do people have less time free in their day, but there are more and more millennials, and now even Gen Z, in the workforce comfortable with different mediums. With COVID-19 preventing face-to-face meetings, conferences, and other collaborative work, this past year the sales process became entirely dependent on online and device-based interactions.

Two star players have shined this year in particular: LinkedIn and SMS communications.

LinkedIn has become a valuable tool in doing business by allowing sales representatives to build rapport before a demo. By routinely planning and executing LinkedIn-based interactions with prospects before sales demos you are 18% more likely to move prospects to the next step than reps who just use calls or emails. If you need encouragement to make an account, keep in mind that sellers who use LinkedIn have 45% more sales opportunities than sellers who don’t.

In 2021 LinkedIn will ‒ or rather, should! ‒ be the go-to medium for cold outreach to potential clients. By studying trends in sales development outreach, Revenue Grid’s data revealed that the most effective sales sequence for 2021 will be LinkedIn→SMS→Email.

Let’s take a look at another indication that the simple channel of SMS has emerged as a new MVP in the customer journey. Teams that integrate SMS in their outreach activities reduce the number of touches before a deal by 19%. This means faster turnover rate of prospects into paying customers.

To delve deeper into specific sales tactics, a great guide can be found here with a downloadable reference sheet of actionable sales signals.

Longer product trials

Customers feel more connected to ownership of a product once they’ve tangibly experienced it. That’s why food sample stalls at grocery stores are so common! In fact, in some cases samples have increased sales as much as two thousand percent. How can we implement this in B2B selling though, specifically for Saas? Free trials, of course!

As a result of the pandemic, there are no longer face-to-face meetings, on-site visits, sales dinners, or conference demos where businesses can build trust with each other. Offering a longer product trial can make up for this in another way: by allowing customers more time to spend with your product.

Businesses that offer longer product trials close 56% more deals than businesses that don’t. Interviews with Sales Leaders revealed that this is because a longer trial improves the bond with the buying team, making it harder meanwhile for decision-makers to turn it down.

Interestingly, while offering discounts is as effective as ever at boosting sales, even discounts aren’t as powerful as extended product trials right now.

AI and analytics

Customers are carrying out due diligence by researching the best options for them; it’s up to sellers to get the right data, too. Unfortunately, more than 70% of sales reps report scrambling to make room for all of their daily tasks. In-depth research and data analysis simply aren’t an option for most reps.

In 2021, successful companies will compensate by utilizing tools that offer AI to automatically focus sellers on the information that they need. AI can process data from won and lost deals to draw correlations between sales activities and results. Then, it uses those insights to show sellers which deals to focus on and when, remind them to engage at the right times, and keep up other best practices that move deals toward won.

Known as Guided Selling, this software can reduce average deal length by 67% and increase the win rate for marginal deals.

Guided Selling: a Key Capability for 2021

Guided Selling offers these (and plenty more) advantages to a B2B sales team:

  • Quick, intuitive pipeline inspection to see where opportunities stand and why in seconds
  • Alerts to Sales Managers and reps about deals at risk
  • Suggested next steps to get stuck and risky deals moving in the right direction

According to Revenue Grid’s research, sales teams that implement Guided Selling technology are also able to scale these successes more efficiently across the organization. As the software highlights the most effective tactics, Sales Leaders and Sales Operations can directly implement them to the sales team, providing in-the-moment reminders and training.

Many sales teams have already integrated Guided Selling. As of last year, 57% of the highest performing sales organizations use AI to improve sales agility. Revenue Grid put together a detailed white paper about how these companies are getting ahead with deal guidance. Give it a read for more ideas on how to beat the challenges of 2021!