With the end of the year approaching, we’re continuing tradition and predicting the coming year’s most important trends affecting B2B sales.
The past decade has treated B2B sales well. Nowadays, sales leadership is commonly a part of the company’s management team and a focus area in the company’s strategy. Universities have introduced sales courses in their curriculum, and talented salespeople are entering the job market more than ever before. It seems sales is doing better and taken more seriously than ever before.
This is the starting point in which we’re predicting next year’s trends—and here they are:
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These are the B2B sales trends to watch in 2020.
B2B Sales Trends 2020
1. Creative outreach tactics will increase in popularity to cut through the noise
It should be obvious by now that customers need to be served in the channels they prefer. In 2020, we believe a multi-channel approach will be more common not only in customer service, but also at the beginning of the sales funnel—in place of the traditional sales cadence laden with phone calls and emails. The less noise in the channel, the easier it is to stand out.
We believe that channels such as messaging services, personal videos, and even direct mail will see a boost in popularity. The first companies are already even sending company swag and gifts to their prospects as a part of their sales cadence.
2. Notification chaos will lead to deeper integrations
Modern sales organizations may have over a dozen different marketing and sales tools in daily use. For the salesperson, this unfortunately translates into an inconvenient surge of notifications and emails through all the different platforms. Messages are spread across different channels when someone visits the website, downloads an eBook, reaches out via chat, or when a colleague updates a prospect’s information in the CRM.
While all that data is helpful for the salesperson, we believe that Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) becoming more common will lead to a more systematic approach in integrating the data. Our prediction is a salesperson’s personalized sales feed, combining all the relevant notifications into one easily consumable, actionable channel for real-time sales.
3. Sales playbooks will be embedded into CRMs
Last year, we predicted sales playbooks becoming the norm, and based on the number of downloads on our own Playbook template, this seems to be the case. As for the next step, we believe playbooks will shift from being a separate document to living directly inside the CRM. This feature is already available in CRMs such as Salesforce, MS Dynamics, and HubSpot.
For the salesperson, this development will show in how they interact with their sales opportunities in the CRM. For example, when moving an opportunity to a new stage, a salesperson will see the recommendations for the next steps according to their company playbook. This will help playbooks become more of a daily tool for the salesperson.
4. Augmented reality will disrupt traditional product presentations
Up until now, a salesperson selling physical products has had to lug their offerings with them to customer meetings, or invite people to a remote showroom in the middle of nowhere to actually show what they sell. The technology to showcase products without the hassle has been around for several years, and we believe it will become mainstream in 2020.
As an example, a company delivering office furniture won’t need to bring catalogues, but can easily visualize the furniture in the existing space based on high-quality images or video. For the buyer, seeing that something actually fits in their own space increases their confidence in them making the right purchasing decision. Product presentations using AR can also be used to collect useful customer insights by A/B testing different kinds of sales processes.
5. Personalized sales approaches will be done at scale
For 2019, we predicted that real-time sales would become a trending topic in sales. In the upcoming year, we believe we’ll see more sales processes personalized for a recipient based on that real-time data, conducted at scale.
Similarly to how marketing email workflows operate, companies will log more detailed and personalized sales workflows for different prospects, triggered automatically into action by external events such as buying signals within their prospect companies. The salesperson’s role will be to act on these triggers and personalize their pitches accordingly. For example, when the decision-maker for a company in your ideal customer profile (ICP) changes, it would trigger a series of tasks different to the traditional content and messaging you would use in a regular outbound sales process.
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6. Data-driven sales will be a source for competitive advantage
Companies are typically trying to build permanent sources of competitive advantage. Traditional management literature has recommended searching for these from pricing, product features, and operational environments. In recent years, superior customer experience has been highlighted as a long-lasting source of competitive advantage.
In 2020, we believe more and more companies will want to build their competitive advantage on top of a well-oiled sales and marketing machine, which is well-aligned and data-driven. Building this machine is not a brief project, but a strategic process which requires years of systematic work to get everything aligned and integrated—when up and running, however, it’s a highly valuable asset for a company and a great source of business success.
This is why we believe in 2020, sales will be taken even more seriously, and it’s something companies will be willing to invest in considerably.
Start building your own data-driven sales machine with our Sales Playbook Template which has been downloaded over 3,000 times!
Or: Download our Sales Activity Tracking Spreadsheet to start keeping track of your activities and optimizing your efforts based on data.