After a rough year for the tech industry, things are starting to look up.
In Q1 2021, tech businesses are likely to see a slow movement back towards normal levels of demand — but maybe not full economic recovery. Your business will likely still have to cope with lower levels of consumer and business confidence, a weakened economy and the knock-on effects of a strained supply chain, making tech sales more challenging.
In IT, for example, Gartner predicts sales growth over 2020 — but still a lot less demand compared to what we saw in 2019.
These eight tips will help any business improve their tech sales in Q1 ahead of the full recovery that economists continue to predict will start sometime in early or mid-2021.
1. Wherever Possible, Go Virtual
Old strategies of B2B marketing — cold-calling, networking events and impersonal email blasts — aren’t as effective as they used to be. Now is the time to take advantage of virtual sales processes wherever you can.
Taking an omnichannel approach to sales prospecting and using all the data you have at your disposal can provide you with a real competitive advantage.
Right now, B2B customers, just like consumers in general, want marketing that is more personalized and more tailored to their particular needs and tastes — and a major portion of B2B marketers believe they’re not doing enough to personalize their marketing efforts.
Adopting sales strategies like email campaigns that take into account client preferences, targeted advertising and digital events may be necessary if you want to find success in 2021.
2. Focus on Boosting Customer Efficiency
With resources tight, inefficient processes can be a major pain point for B2B clients. Tools that help clients and individual customers get more done may be especially appealing right now.
When advertising, it may be a good strategy to emphasize how your products can boost customer efficiency — allowing them to do more with less.
3. Help Your Customers Cope with WFH Challenges
What businesses don’t have right now is a lot of slack. With demand down and the labor market unpredictable, many companies are working with limited staff who may still be adjusting to team collaboration in the era of working from home (WFH).
The pandemic isn’t going to last forever but shifts in business workflows and consumer preferences tend to stick around well after a crisis ends. There are already some signs that businesses will continue to offer work-from-home options — and that workers who transitioned to remote work earlier in the year may continue to work from home, even once it’s safe to return to the office.
Improving support for remote collaboration may be a solid long-term strategy — even if lockdown measures are lifted in just a few months.
4. Review Your Pricing Structure
The new year means a fresh start — and a great opportunity to take another look at your pricing structure.
During Q1, you may want to take quick stock of your sales data and see if your current pricing model works for your customers. You can use metrics like plan-by-plan conversion rates to see which plans are selling and which ones don’t grab the interest of potential customers.
If your clients tend to gravitate towards one plan, leaving others behind, that may be a sign that you should reorganize or simplify how you price your services.
Maybe customers pick your cheapest or most expensive service, with just a handful opting for middle-tier options. Simplifying your pricing structure could help make the buying process a little smoother without limiting customers’ options.
You may also find that it makes more sense to price based on use, charging by how much support or resources a client needs.
The right changes can go a long way in helping customers find the plan that fits their needs.
5. Take Advantage of Automation
Your business can also take advantage of new sales automation tech to improve internal workflows.
Chatbots and various new sales automation tools can make it easier for your sales reps and customer service agents to handle requests — potentially giving them more time to spend on the complex problems that require full attention and creative thinking.
Even simpler robotic process automation (RPA) software can go a long way in managing repetitive tasks and freeing up your administrative staff for work that requires a human touch.
6. Don’t Leave Existing Accounts Behind
Business growth doesn’t always mean new customers. Current clients are just as important to growing revenue as new clients — and because you already have an existing relationship with them, it can be more efficient to sell new products directly to them.
Depending on the product range you sell, it may be better to focus on cross-selling to existing clients in some cases, rather than pursuing new clients.
7. Continue to Invest in Marketing
No matter how slow your Q4 was, marketing will continue to be key to business success. You may not necessarily want to increase marketing spending, but you definitely don’t want to cut your current ad budget.
If you find that your current marketing spend isn’t helping your business grow, it’s a better idea to optimize rather than reallocate funds. Adopting new marketing methods that have proven effective during the pandemic — like social marketing, word-of-mouth marketing and even influencer marketing — may be a good strategy for optimizing your budget and boosting sales.
8. Don’t Forget About Security
As companies move more and more of their data to the cloud, cybersecurity has become an even more important topic for tech businesses.
If you’re holding on to customer data or helping companies manage transitions to the cloud, you and your sales reps should be able to answer some basic questions about data security. If prompted, it’s good to be able to tell customers what you’re doing to ensure data is protected from hackers and cybercriminals.
Finding Business Success in Q1
2021 is likely to be a lot more normal than 2020. However, tech businesses may still be in for a few rough months.
Companies wanting to boost sales in Q1 should play to the challenges of the moment. If your products can solve pain points related to business productivity and work-from-home woes, you may have a real valuable selling point to lean on.
Updates to pricing structures and the use of efficiency-boosting sales tech can also help you drum up some additional revenue and build stronger relationships with clients.