Getting Ready for 2021: Three Ways your Sales Team can Plan Ahead
It seems like just yesterday that many sales teams were plugging away at business as usual: creating proposals, closing deals, and using the same time-tested methods to move prospects through their pipelines.
And then 2020 came along, pulling the rug right out from under them.
Not only did the global repercussions of COVID-19 upend business operations for almost everyone, but the pandemic made it exceedingly difficult for sales teams to think about planning ahead. Setting next year’s budget—something of a rote process for many—has become a project shrouded in uncertainty. Meticulous planning seems essential to rebuilding your sales pipeline in 2021. But where can you even start?
The short answer is: it might be time to go back to the drawing board and consider this year an entirely new beginning. Here are our top 3 tips for how to best plan ahead for 2021:
- Get outside your comfort zone. One thing that should be clear by now is that not all of the lead gen tactics that were successful in the past will work in the future. In-person conferences, tradeshows, and networking events as we knew them are likely to remain suspended indefinitely, creating real challenges for those who traditionally rely on face-to-face interactions. And of course, prospects are facing these same challenges as well.
In order to thrive in such an environment, its essential to step outside your comfort zone. Test your messaging. Try new methods of outreach. Devise new strategies and tactics. And most importantly, do lots of research on your market. How were your targeted companies affected by the tumultuous events of 2020? How have their operations shifted? How have their priorities changed?
Don’t get discouraged if you encounter a few hiccups along the way. Change is usually a little uncomfortable—that’s just part of the process.
- Be ready to test, measure, and pivot. Once you’ve settled on a new course of action, don’t stop there! 2020 has shown how market conditions can change drastically at any moment—and in many industries, they still are. Ensuring a sustainable, healthy pipeline requires not only a great Plan A, but solid Plans B, C, and D as well.
This is the time to experiment. Test out new lead gen methods, pay close attention to metrics, and analyze results regularly to ensure that you have an up-to-date picture of what actually works. By paying close attention and having several different strategies at your disposal, you’ll be able to pivot right along with your prospects as their needs, priorities, or interests change.
- Consider engaging trusted partners and outside providers. As a result of tradeshows and other sales events still being sidelined, many sales teams are tasked with determining how to best reapportion large sections of their budgets. When doing so, it’s important to figure out where you can get the most bang for your buck. Regardless of how many prospects you reach out to, which method will result in the most one-on-one conversations?
We suggest exploring trusted advisor services—such as working with an expert outbound calling partner. A call center that is both sophisticated enough to represent your product and diligent enough to grind through the dials will be able to set a steady stream of well-qualified appointments and ultimately refilling your pipeline much faster than would an inbound marketing campaign. VSA, for example, combines a team-based calling model with executive oversight and our conversation accelerator advantage to connect our partners with a steady stream of market-qualified prospects. The result is a substantial return on investment.
Some of the above tips might seem a little bit open-ended, complex, or tricky to execute—but that’s exactly the point! The theme, of course, is that it’s time to try something new. Even though most markets are now recovering, it’s still impossible to determine what direction they’re moving in, let alone how they’ll get there or what products and services they’ll need to bring along.
For almost two decades, VSA has been helping our clients adapt when markets change. We provide collaborative processes and a well-informed outside perspective that has helped hundreds of sales teams plan for—and execute—successful programs. If your team could benefit from such help, don’t hesitate to give us a call.