2020 was a year, to say the least.
It’s required pivots, new strategies, and a lot of resilience — and many businesses are looking forward to the changes that 2021 will bring. But what can you expect?
Will 2021 require more pivots — or will it be business as usual in a few months?
How can you build a predictable pipeline for 2021?
How do you manage expectations and provide predictability in such an unpredictable environment?
The answers to these questions are critical to driving sales and business success in the coming year.
This webinar brought together sales leaders Dale Dupree of the Sales Rebellion, Daniel Hebert of Proposify, Michael Hanson of Growth Genie, and Niraj Kapur of Everybody Works In Sales to discuss how 2020 impacted the industry and what we can expect going forward.
Below, we'll cover a few of the main points and resources mentioned in the webinar. To learn more, check out the full webinar below.
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Look for new revenue streams
Before March 2020, Niraj said most of his money came from doing LinkedIn training, sales training, speaking events — only about 10% of his income was from book royalties.
Due to the lockdown, all in-person events were canceled, all of his clients in London were put on furlough — he had no work at all. Like many businesses, he had to pivot to survive.
"My second book was due out in July, I released that in April because I spent two years building my profile on LinkedIn, it sold well. I was then approached by a publisher to write an ebook, which did well, but I thought, Okay, what do I do long-term? So I started doing monthly sales masterclasses every single month. I started £5, £10, £21, £47, now I'm charging £97, which is about £130 per masterclass."
For sales teams, changing revenue streams might not be possible. But you can change tactics by leaning into video for prospecting, using online meeting tools, and leveraging authentic empathy.
Stand out by bringing people together
Sales has always been about empathy, but understanding has now become more important than ever.
When it came to navigating the pandemic, most businesses knew it was time to lean into empathy. But many brand's attempts at empathy didn't ring true.
It was a play for more sales, not a true emotional connection.
Dale Dupree with The Sales Rebellion focused on communicating empathy and actually showing up.
It's not sitting there trying to pretend that you can relate to somebody, but it's just sharing experiences with them, and so giving them feedback on what we were doing and how we can support them. It wasn't about pitching anymore. It was just about gaining traction."
That meant instead of focusing on closing deals, they focused on supporting people who were struggling — especially those struggling in the mental health department — by offering free events and encouraging people to join the theme in becoming part of a community.
Get back to the sales basics
As the leads dried up, it became clear that sales was no longer a numbers game.
Whether it's a pandemic, a recession, or some other event, sales basics stay the same.
And the core of sales has always been building real relationships with people. Rather than throwing more darts at the wall, sales teams need to focus on building real relationships.
That means really researching your prospects, not just using generic "Hi, how are you, how was your weekend?" Instead, get to know the person, be ready to explain how you can help. Take the time not just to ask how they are doing, but really listen to their answers and consider how you can help.
If you are sending boring, crappy emails, that’s no longer going to work. Success in the coming year will come down to skills and systems — honing those basic sales skills and building a solid sales system that helps you plug leaky funnels.
How to prospect in 2021
The game has changed. 2020 turned the business world upside down, and many salespeople took a hit. So, how can we build a sales pipeline that actually works in 2021? Here are a few tips shared in the webinar:
You need to have more than one type of prospecting. If you relied solely on inbound, you might need to mix up and add outbound — and visa versa.
Give away free, really useful content, such as a playbook or onboard training.
Stop closing by email — instead, pick up the phone.
Use polls and surveys to understand what people want.
Use a human touch — if you know the person likes dogs, then include that in your messaging. If they are on LinkedIn, go there and interact with them.
Embrace video. It can be used to increase engagement on LinkedIn, to introduce yourself within an email, etc.
Finally, focus on your reputation. In sales, your reputation is the most important thing. If you want to get people in your pipeline and close deals, you need to build a personal brand, tell your story, and change the game every day.
Final thoughts and resources
One thing all our panelists agreed on is that if you want to succeed in 2021, you need to keep learning. Look for mentorships — even salespeople at the top of their game can get better.
Here are a few books recommended by Daniel, Dale, Michael, and Niraj to help:
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