Tech is no longer just the domain of the IT team. First, marketers got their hands on analytics tools. Then finance swapped spreadsheets for cloud accounting tools. Human resources adopted personnel management platforms soon after.
As tech becomes ubiquitous in the modern office, it’s sales’ turn: industry-shifting tech trends are at hand. In 2021, they’ll revolutionize how teams sell.
Sales tech can already help teams operate more efficiently, but the newest developments in software are pushing performance to new heights. Some of the most promising trends to keep an eye on in the coming year include:
A sales innovation poised to make a difference in 2021 is the ability to track customer conversations. Through email tools, sales teams’ conversations with prospects will be more efficient and more effective.
Salespeople need to know whether their communications are getting through to plan their attack. Email tracking enables salespeople to see who’s opened their emails and when. Someone who hasn’t opened one email in ten probably isn’t worth continuing to follow up with.
Existing best practices, such as A/B testing, can benefit from email tracking as well. If one subject line gets twice the opens that a second option does, it’s a safe bet the first will be more effective with untested prospects.
Email tracking is not entirely new, but 2021 is likely to be the year it sees market-wide adoption. Given the pandemic’s downward pressure on sales and upward pressure on remote selling, expect to see an uptick in the use of email tracking.
These days, many sales teams work entirely remotely. Emails and group messages fly back and forth all day. Social media messages mixed in make things even more confusing.
2021 may be the beginning of truly cross-channel dashboards. Slack and Microsoft Teams, among others, seem headed this direction. Beyond text-based messaging, these tools facilitate calling and integrate with Google services.
It’s not a stretch of the imagination to think they could add native social media integrations in 2021. Even popular streaming platforms, such as Twitch, may become grounds for brand-prospect communication.
Seamless integration between chat, phone, email, and social media channels will keep your team from wasting time trying to find relevant information. And the less time they spend hunting down details like address and company role, the more time they can spend actually selling.
Social Selling Tech
Making sales is all about building relationships with potential customers. That’s always been and always will be true. Knowing that fact, however, doesn’t make developing these relationships any easier.
Thanks to Covid-19, sales conversations that were once had in person are happening on social media. Social analytics tools can help you not just see where they’re happening but how positive or negative they are. These tools will pull out keywords that signal a user is ripe for engagement by a salesperson.
For sales teams, that data is as good as gold. Consumers who are talking about a brand in a good way are highly likely to buy from it. Those that are bashing it online aren’t worth your sales team’s time. Ambivalent conversations call for a quick message, not an in-depth one.
2021 will see steady adoption of sentiment analysis tools by teams outside of marketing, starting with sales. Social media is the marketplace and analytics the accelerator.
Pitch and Proposal Personalization
Personalization has been a best practice for years now, but some sales teams have been slow to adopt the technology. Because sales are already so personal, some salespeople see additional customization as unnecessary. 2021 will prove that reasoning wrong. Case and point: Many customers already expect it at this point, with 76% of consumers wanting the brands they interact with to anticipate and understand their needs.
One hotspot will be pitching. Salespeople have a bad habit of pitching products before they build rapport with potential customers. Personalization tools will nip that tendency in the bud.
Next-gen sales tools will track how leads interact with your website and spit out potential needs. By playing on those, salespeople will be able to show that they understand the customer’s goals and motivations.
Similar tools may do this for proposals. An email tool could look at how many times a customer mentioned a particular pain point, such as price. By recommending a discount, such technology could ease barriers to purchase in a personalized way.
Everyone wants to feel special. In 2021, invest in sales tools to make each customer feel like an individual. Because they are, and they’ll be more likely to buy when they’re treated that way.
The artificial intelligence transformation is upon us, but it may not yet be clear what exactly is getting transformed. Cybersecurity? Sure. Accounting? Of course. But what role does AI play in sales?
So far, much of the focus on AI has been limited to how it can be used in the context of customer interactions — think analytics and messaging automation. In the next year, AI will make a night-and-day difference in sales forecasting.
How will the pandemic’s pace of recovery impact your sales, for example? Well, AI tools can look at how not just the broader economy but businesses like yours are recovering. These sales tools will allow you to plug in the potential brand and market events for “what if” forecasting scenarios.
By 2021’s end, software may be able to predict which customers will purchase again and suggest when it’s time for salespeople to pursue new leads. By analyzing customer behavior in this way, AI will make boosting sales a matter of plugging in more data points.
Making changes to your sales tech can feel like taking a leap of faith. Why tune a sales engine that’s not broken? Isn’t it better to keep running at full tilt than to make a pitstop to integrate new technologies?
Without improvements under the hood, the truth is that your company’s sales function will never become faster or more powerful. There may be growing pains, but no disruption to your sales process will be more difficult than 2020 has been. And compared to a pandemic, these technologies have a lot more potential.
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