It feels like a transformative moment. As the economy slowly opens up, consumers and businesses are starting to spend again. While some have suffered real financial hardship during the pandemic, others have built up a pool of post-Covid cash.

But to be in with the best chance of securing a healthy proportion of post-pandemic sales, businesses need to understand that expectations have changed. Whether you sell B2B or B2C, your customers are more familiar than ever with online sales channels. When they do want to speak to a human – and they usually do eventually – they expect agents to be empathetic and well informed.

In other words, sales in 2021 are not the same as sales in those long ago days at the start of 2020. At the very least, the pandemic has accelerated trends already in play. With that in mind, here are five sales trends you need to know about for 2021 and beyond.

Sales, meet marketing

Buyers are more demanding than ever. They expect you to be knowledgeable about their situation and the challenges they face and offer consistent, focused messaging. To do that effectively, sales and marketing need to act as one.

The fact is, sales people are spending too much of their time not selling. According to Forbes, about two thirds of the average sales person’s time is spent on non revenue-generating activities. Many of those precious hours are taken up creating sales content, or conducting research on clients or sectors that would be better conducted elsewhere.

And by ‘elsewhere’, we mean marketing. Sales and marketing need to work more closely together than ever, to make sure that, as a business, you’re delivering consistent, focused messages that filter into every piece of collateral and every customer conversation. When marketing insights constantly feed into your sales strategy, you’ll be giving customers more of what they want: tailored, relevant information.

Forget cold, go warm

The death of cold calling is (ironically) a hot topic. But whilst having too many inbound sales leads is every sale leaders dream in most cases this isn’t the reality and a properly equipped strategic outbound sales function is a necessity. Having said that, the most progressive organisations don’t rely solely on cold calling anymore – they do ‘warm’ calling instead.

How do you raise the temperature of your prospects as part of your outbound strategy? It’s a combination of information and efficiency. Quite simply, you don’t go in cold. You go in armed with all the information you can get on that customer, and as much insight as possible about their pain points and challenges. Find a timely reason for your call. That might come from your CRM or – in the case of B2B – from sector and industry research. Ask marketing to give you everything they can (see above).

To achieve team efficiencies and to focus on getting the customer outcomes you want, outbound dialling software comes into its own. MaxContact’s outbound dialler features, for example, allow you to build an intelligent, data-driven workflow that maximises the time you spend on the phone with clients and minimises calls that would go to voicemail – all while remaining Ofcom-compliant with zero dropped calls. It learns alongside your agents, refining the process so you’re always targeting the best data at the most effective times.

Put the two together and you’ve gone from cold to warm, and implemented a more efficient outbound sales strategy – an absolute imperative for any business wanting to grow quickly. 

Training needs to stick

Training sales staff to be more knowledgeable, confident and empathic is great, but at the moment largely ineffective. According to Xerox research, sales professionals lose 87% of training insights in just a month.

How do you make sure sales training is absorbed and implemented? Use gamification, video and peer learning. Get your teams together regularly – via Teams or Zoom if necessary – to share best practice and success stories.

And best of all, create a training journey. Give your agents a training goal, and a series of short, easy-to-absorb steps to achieve it. Let them track progress towards that goal and take regular tests and revision sessions. Repetition is the key to learning, but it should be fun, practice-based and easily applicable to day-to-day activities. In a nutshell, make it easy for agents to turn training into action and action into habit. 

Don’t measure vanity metrics

In 2021 the temptation is to measure everything, but you need to focus on metrics that mean something to your customers and your sales teams. Not every metric is relevant to every business. For one company, long average call time figures are an indication the sales process is too lengthy. For another, they might offer little real insight.

Nevertheless, real data is essential, and while you may be able to get basic stats from your unified comms provider or telephony solution (though not necessarily very easily), implementing customer contact centre software can provide transformational results.

Powerful contact centre solutions like MaxContact provide answers, not just information, and give you real insight that drives performance. In this respect, productivity reporting is key, especially if your teams are working from home. In addition, trend analysis measures performance over time, illuminating trends that can inform more effective sales strategies. You can even analyse the speech patterns of your best salespeople, learn from them and replicate their methods across the team.  

In 2021 the most effective sellers are those that continually hone and refine their strategies and processes. Information is key to that, which is why MaxContact presents comprehensive reporting functionality in easy-to-understand reports.

Do it now

The final trend is perhaps the most obvious. With sales activity gearing up for a post-pandemic surge, there’s no time to wait. Economies are already bouncing back strongly from the Covid crisis, creating a golden opportunity for forward looking contact centres. Companies are readying themselves for the new ‘Roaring 20s’. To make the most of it, rethink your strategies, training and contact centre solution today.   

If you’d like to know how a contact centre centre software can help your sales team hit their targets and each new prospects, let our experts guide you through the process in a 15 min discovery call today. Book your free appointment now >