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Hope is not a strategy for business recovery

By Tom Castley, VP Sales EMEA at Outreach

The past few months have brought a lot of uncertainty: first, about how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, then about how long various lockdowns would be. A lot of business has also had a rigmarole of changing rules which made them adapt to making entire workforces remote, bringing people back into the office, claiming benefits and the furlough scheme and, for the catering and hospitality industry, the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

Amid change, companies have consistently found ways to continue to do business – often in a slightly more convoluted, less planned way than usual. Alongside this, a new approach seemed to have wriggled its way into many companies: hope. Hope that scientists would find a vaccine, hope that Britons would return to work, hope that the world would go back to normal. However, hope is not a strategy.

Embracing predictability using data

In the world of business, predictability is key. Business leaders need to devise a framework for their business for the short, medium and long-term. This includes embracing tools that help them forecast growth, plan resources and, monitor how the business delivers against key objectives. Such tools also help to motivate employees, by giving them a view on their personal achievements and targets and how they contribute to their company’s goals.

These tools should provide businesses with clear data that gives a full picture of their company’s health and growth opportunities.

Surprisingly, many companies have yet to implement a system that gives them maximum visibility on their sales cycles – and by extension, their revenue. Without visibility on their sales engine, companies will be hard pushed to plan valid objectives for 2021 and invest in the right people and tools to do so.

As COVID continues to force companies to alter their business planning, sales engagement platforms (SEPs) can be the force multiplier to the revenue-led organisations to increase efficiency and improve results at all stages of the sales cycle.

Such platforms enable organisations to align with their teams in their revenue engine, gain visibility into the moving parts of the sales process, secure control and predictability of business results and eventually deliver momentum at every stage of the sales process.

What’s more, SEPs supercharge the sales process by automating tasks, standardising workflows, and enabling a higher degree of personalisation when it comes to messaging.

Their complex technical features are designed to act as a centralised platform for all sales engagement, easily integrating with CRMs, the marketing stack and every channel used for external engagement – from social media to video conferencing. This simplifies sales representatives’ work and improves the quality of data sales leaders have access to as they revise their forecasts for the post-COVID era.

The ability to adapt to changing regulations

As we move further into 2021, unforeseen circumstances can and will happen – but they should be used to identify new opportunities for growth, not gamble on people’s livelihoods.

Lockdowns across countries have shown that many jobs can be done well, regardless of where workers are physically based. It has also enabled buyers to prioritise their immediate needs and ensure that all the solutions and services they purchase serve a purpose straightaway.

Considering the lessons from the lockdowns, businesses should implement technology and processes that will benefit them today and in the long run, regardless of where they are operating.

Digital transformation and organisational change have been hot topics for a while, so the rapid change is unsurprising to some in the industry.

It’s therefore high time we stopped publicising the myth that remote working is less productive and instead focused on ensuring workers have access to the right solutions to spend time on more practical actions – and help their business generate more revenue faster.

Looking forward to 2021

According to a recent Forrester report, 2020 will be remembered as a watershed moment when B2B buying and selling changed forever.

This year, I expect to see technology, talent, and transparency fuse further in B2B sales to solve corporate buyers’ problems.

Driven by customer behaviour and technology, the tide is shifting towards account-based selling and digital transformation. Moreover, it is clear that sales leaders need to purchase advanced technology to meet buyer needs and expectations in today’s digital environment.

Tech is now part and parcel of many companies’ operations – and business leaders across the UK need to ensure their sales functions ditch the little black book this year in favour of accurate data, predictive AI and an always-on coach to maximise the value of their teams and turn them into what they are designed to be: the engine driving business growth.