What does new business prospecting look like in 2021 and beyond?
March 16, 2021
Putting business development to one side for a moment, it’s evident to some degree that our world is hurtling towards that futuristic reality we’ve seen in numerous shows and films like Ready Player One (pictured above), where people live in a virtual world in the guise of outrageously designed avatars. Ok, that reality may yet seem like a distant mirage, but the trends that resulted from the global pandemic are telling signs that reliance on increasingly smarter technologies (to which there are no limits), can accelerate from one moment to the next and have us getting accustomed faster than we even realise.
So, coming back to the present and future of business development – the first thing we must come to terms with in 2021 is that, everything is digital. Even Joel Harrison, Editor in chief at B2B Marketing comments, “if you’re looking for ‘what’s new in B2B’, the best place you’re likely to find it is in the tech industry.” With more people in professional services realising that business can be conducted from home without impacting productivity, and more companies (Spotify is the latest) migrating to a “work from anywhere” model, it has become more difficult than ever to pin prospects down and win them over.
This has shifted focus to and put a lot of emphasis on digital channels such as LinkedIn, which has become one of the primary means through which to conduct sales outreach. Testament of this are the numerous automation platforms being developed, many including AI functionalities that aggregate large amounts of data to identify trends that we would otherwise miss. Not long from now, we’ll be having digital exchanges and entire conversations without being entirely certain as to whether the individual on the other side is indeed a human (our client partners and Voice Specialists Rabbit & Pork will know a thing or two about this!).
Having said this, as long as humans are still the ones calling the shots (long may that be the case) then there will always be the necessity for empathy and a human touch. (Spoiler Alert: There is no ‘silver bullet’!) The qualitative need for it, fortunately, will always be directly proportional to the rise in technology and it will continue to be the real reason as to why companies are selected over others. Though far from simple, the skill lies in the ability to tell a unique story through one’s proposition and develop distinct and creative content that truly empathises with target audiences and captures their attention somewhere along the chain of automation.
The sweet spot therefore lies in striking the perfect balance between tech and emotion.
We are seeing businesses, entire sectors, and people being stretched and challenged in unimaginable ways; putting a great deal of pressure on the system and people’s experience of it. Now more than ever, we must tread carefully. You never know who is on the other side of your communications, meaning you need to be incredibly empathetic and smart when choosing who to target, when and how to approach them. This is why a blanket automation approach will only get you so far, with sensitivity and social awareness being critical skills that will carry you the rest of the way.
Patience is a virtue. There is general apprehension, and decisions to part with budgets are considerably slower than they were pre-2020. Deals that may have taken a month to close can quite possibly take up to three months now. We need to be patient, realistic and avoid putting unnecessary stress on prospects (empathy!). For this reason, it’s crucial to ensure the top end of pipelines are twice as full and nurture strategies are consistent, well thought out and providing value at each touchpoint. Knowing what tools to use and when to use them along the customer journey is absolutely key:
Do you have the resource to push out regular content and do you have a roadmap for the next twelve months that aligns your sales and marketing efforts? If the answer to either question is no, then it’s likely you are not being as efficient as you should with your nurture strategy. The likely result is a scatter gun approach, which won’t give you the best chances of filling pipelines with curious prospects. The key to being patient is organisation and the self-assurance that what you’re doing follows a well-researched plan of action. If you’ve managed to nail this, then the results will come.
Human touch, awareness, sensitivity and compassion… Like us, you’re likely feeling grateful that the emotional aspect of sales will continue to reign, even as technology, automation and data become increasingly embedded in our lives and the way business is conducted. If you’d like to know more about what emotion and sales tech can do for your business, then do set up a workshop with us here – our virtual assistant will be glad to help 😉
Emotion & Tech will be the very theme of our next webinar, so do watch this space and sign up to our newsletter below to receive information and dates once the event is live.