How to prepare for effective marketing and sales in 2021?

All business leaders would agree that this year has been a difficult one, with a changing environment driving changes for many companies. But what has really changed and how can you best approach these changes in your marketing and sales plan for 2021?

Author: François Delvaux – Partner

At the Paperjam Marketing & Sales Breakfast Presentation last week, I asked the participants a number of questions on how their company’s behaviors have changed since the Covid-19 crisis. The results were quite enlightening and can be found here.

The answers clearly indicate that companies are indeed undergoing changes since the pandemic Covid-19 started. Basically, there are four stages where your company can be at in these difficult times, i.e.:

  1. You are responding to the crisis
  2. You are stabilizing your company
  3. Your company is recovering
  4. You are preparing for growth

In this blogpost, we want to focus on how you can prepare for 2021 and assure that your company will indeed grow. But to be able to do that, businesses need a clear view on the problems we are facing right now. So, they can act instead of react.

The problems we are facing today

The consequences of Covid-19 can be found at various levels. First of all, we have evolved to a low touch environment, driven by different customer behaviors and challenging the past ‘classic’ face-to-face sales model and forcing a new way of interacting and selling.

Secondly, companies see themselves confronted with new competitors and an ever faster changing environment that obliges them to adapt their value proposition, how they ‘play’ in the market, and (re)focus to be able to answer to these increased threats.

Research by Board of Innovation shows that only 15% of companies are winning in the current economy. Most other companies are facing financial pressures, with unclear sales forecasts and haltering cash flows, which in turn makes it difficult to invest rather than to cut costs. If they invest, it is on digital initiatives that have been accelerated.

Last, but not least, Covid-19 has a huge impact on your human resources. More and more employees feel an organizational disconnect and are more and more unclear on the reasons why they are working for your company. Which in turn leads to more stress and burnouts. According to a survey by FlexJobs and Mental Health America, no less than 40% of employees who experience burnout cited Covid-19 as the cause.

How to best deal with these challenges & problems?

Maybe you are facing some or all of these problems and you may not be sure how to best handle them? With our experience, Minds&More can provide with a pragmatic approach, tools and how to overcome them. Find out more about our approach below and integrate them as much as possible in your marketing and/or sales plan for 2021.

Low touch environment

According to Board of Innovation the Covid-19 crisis is shaping a new generation of consumer behaviors. In B2B, almost 90% of sales have moved to online interaction, such as chats, videoconferences and web sales according to McKinsey. However, their research also shows that more than 60% of managers believe this sales model is as effective or even more so than the pre Covid-19 model.

If you want to face the challenges of the low touch economy, you will have to pay attention to a number of factors, such as:

  • Update your customer personae to include their new ways of interacting and their modified buying behaviors. Understand how this changes your commercial approach – whom you target, how and where you communicate to them.
  • Don’t rely uniquely on your website anymore to achieve sales but review your marketing mix. Be more active on social media (especially for those in B2B) and start using other alternatives such as mobile apps (i.e Messenger or WhatsApp) as a new way to communicate with your (potential) customers. Invest in great content that is relevant to your target audience. Develop social media posts with clear call-to-actions and relevant landing page and improve your SEO (search engine optimization) as much as possible.
  • Focus more on the marketing and sales efforts necessary to increase sales opportunities at the bottom of the sales funnel.
  • Invest both in relevant enablers, tools and training to allow your commercial teams to sell virtually – a new way of selling that is required in this low touch envirnoment.
  • Use more storytelling in your marketing content and materials to help your sales team to tell great stories that will motivate and convince buyers. Think for example of great case studies, heart-felt testimonials or interesting research. 
  • Review your value proposition. More specifically: review what is still available and then reduce, delay or modify fulfillment accordingly. Look out for alternatives and reduce your service levels and SLA’s. Also, adapt your price and manage reimbursement request.

At Minds&More, we have deep experience and great tools to help you in your efforts.

Increased threats

Facing new competition and an increasing speed of change, it is necessary to (re)focus your commercial efforts. Look to adapt your existing value proposition, have more focus on your customer experience. For new offers ensure alignment to your personas and targeting. Also, make sure your company is able to manage and coach to have a virtual sales team in order to be fully ready for 2021.

Financial threats

Make sure you have a clear focus on your target, your product or service and on your sales channel. Use ‘pilots’ to create compelling business cases for investments. Pilots consume less time and budget but can still be very convincing to the institutions or people whom you would like to invest in your company.

Also, make sure to calculate your sales velocity, at what speed do your sales opportunities progress through each stage of the funnel How many meetings or interactions are required as part of your sales cycle? What are your conversion or leakage ratios from one stage to the other? How many leads you will need to achieve one single sale?

Use and re-use different tactics to people who are already going down in the funnel. Think of the funnel as a great bottle of wine. Each tactic you use is one more twist to the corkscrew and one step closer to a delicious glass of wine. 

Want to learn how to calculate your velocity or which tactics to use for your company’s funnel? Download our free funnel canvas template or get in touch with us.

Organizational disconnect

Do not only provide the tools to your employees, but train them on how to use virtual meeting tools as effectively as possible. Also, make sure there is a two-way communication, so your employees still feel involved and enabled to take new initiatives.

Think about the way you organize internal meetings. Maybe it is time to have fewer and shorter meetings? Or review the format of the meeting? Revisit the role of people coaching and ensure effective sales managements towards sales teams.

Find ways to continue explaining the ‘why’ of your company or introduce a new ‘why’. It will give your employees more purpose and also increase their motivation. Make it an integral part of your employer branding to stay attractive and be a great place to work.

Hopefully, these tips and tools will help you in developing a great sales and/or marketing plan for 2021!

If you would like to join me at the next (virtual) Marketing Breakfast, feel free to enroll for the next edition on Friday 11 December from 08:30 to 09:30. I will be giving you insights on how to boost your sales productivity. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Keep an eye on our social media to stay up to date on all upcoming (virtual) workshops and seminars!

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