Thought Leadership

A business plan for 2021 - what to expect and how to win new reality?


Paweł Małkowiak



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2020 became a huge game-changer in nearly every aspect of life, bringing new habits, practices, and relationships. The trust issues became even more important. We are heading to an end of the year that requires all of us to take the necessary steps to get through the crisis, face up to the challenges, redefine business goals and come to conclusions for the future. We have all experienced, to some extent, the aftermath caused by global lockdown - the economic slowdown, varied models in response to the crisis. 2020 was a year of testing, remodeling, and creating multiple scenarios. These challenging conditions affected the way people perceive and want to hold conversations with professionals, as well as match business partners. Here you can find some useful, universal information about the global changes in B2B that were dictated by the recent pandemic and how they may help redefine strategy for 2021. Some data and personal view for the passing year as well as tips for the year ahead.

Global response in B2B sales

Following the survey conducted by McKinsey&Company , the preferences and behaviors of B2B decision-makers have changed dramatically since the beginning of 2020. This applies to the way how business meetings were arranged, as well as to services provided by various participants. Global trends redefine how B2B sales models diversify affected by the pandemic. The survey applies to the new state of sales, and business management which might be helpful when designing new strategies, funnels, and creating partnerships. This is a good time for rethinking and implementing, for both current and future projects, because the design that takes into account the preferences of decision-makers will play a significant role in creating the company’s value and future profits.

Remote and self-service models are preferred by 70-80% of decision-makers. The advantages pointed out are travel savings, safety, and ease of scheduling a meeting. This approach applies either to ordering and reordering, as well as identifying and evaluating new suppliers.

New sales models are as efficient or even more powerful than the prior models. In April 2020 65% of respondents declared that remote sales are as effective as face-to-face meetings (or even better performing). In August the number of respondents claiming the effectiveness of remote sales increased up to 75%. Additionally, 45% of respondents pointed out that remote sales were more effective.

The order value for remote sales or self-service does not only apply to the low-value purchase. 70% of B2B decision-makers declare the purchase of up to 500,000 USD via a self-service or remote interaction. 97% of the B2B clients consider a purchase in an end-to-end digital purchase model.

The new normal will become a new normal. Nearly 90% of the respondents declared that the new, remote sales models will stay for a longer time, and 60% declared to keep a certain limit in face-to-face meetings, even if the salesforce will be ready to meet in-person. Most companies point out additional sets to become successful, these are the ability to remote transition, basic video technology, new profiles of sales representatives, redesigned sales training. Over 80% of B2B companies declare to introduce more agile sales processes and focus on different sales methods, while nearly 60% plan to decrease the number of sales representatives, 70% plans to switch to a more dynamic resource model.

What are the forecasts for the economy of 2021?

After the global economic decline, the market is expected to bounce back. In the mid-2020 we faced a V-shaped recovery, that is noted, to drive to excel pre-pandemic GDP levels by the end of this year - setting the stage for strong post-recovery growth in 2021. The economists from Morgan Stanley point out that now we are entering a new phase that is on track to deliver 6.4% GDP growth in the coming year. Several industries generally have been more affected by the effects of global lockdown, despite fears and uncertainties, global forecasts are more optimistic than they might seem.

Taking into account the changes that will remain with us, as well as the predictions for 2021, and the fact that we will never return 100% to pre-pandemic behavior and processes, it is worthwhile to redefine the core strategy. When looking for new opportunities, as well as setting new strategic goals, you should not reject the solutions given on the plate. Knowing that the expected growth, as well as digital relationships, will be fed by credibility, trust, and experience, these qualities will play an even more important role in building sustainable partnerships than before. Combining with excellent customer service, unique experiences, and discovering new paths will boost the global recovery, as well as will set businesses on a new road to success.

2020 proved that we create a system of connected vessels. When one broke, the next dependent parts started to leak. After a year of uncertainty, another optimistic view is that since we live in a mostly digitized world, where partnerships transcend political borders, the recovery is expected to happen even faster. Asynchronous recovery, on both, developed and emerging markets will accelerate in the same year. The exact speeding up is assumed around March or April when most of the geographies and sectors will join the revival.

Customer experience will play a central role

Promising forecasts are ahead, here are some thoughts which you can execute right now to be prepared for an upturn. Strengthen your partnerships and focus on making new ones. Setting a customer in a center of all your efforts, or in other words, having a focus on your customer’s needs and filling their expectations, will help you win 2021. Accelerated digital transformation will continue to grow, mapping, and designing improved customer journeys. According to the research , 87% of professionals say customer feedback became more important than it was before the pandemic. Businesses also gather feedback in new places, 60% of respondents claimed they’ve added new touchpoints.

A fast response will be crucial but must be followed in the right direction. Whether it is B2B or B2C, the rules are similar. Understanding the value you can provide, and what your customers expect from you will let your business make strategic changes quickly and confidently. That’s one principle that establishes agile businesses apart from the rest.

Face-to-face meetings won’t happen anytime soon, and even if, these will differ from what we have known. Digital experiences will play a dominant role. E-commerce and digital actions have become more important, keeping a close eye on the customer experience, setting new paths, and testing new digital channels will become the new winning strategy. The data that can be gathered and analyzed via digital channels will help improve decision making, shaping the future of your business, and prepare to better react when unexpected turbulences appear. Consider how the experience you’re delivering via the website or digital services could play a dominant role in the 2021 strategy.