Ouch! Our 2020 year in review

Ouch! Our 2020 year in review

2020 has been a wild ride. The plans I set personally at end of last year, and the ones we set as a company, well, let's just say most of that got thrown out the window around March.

From conversations I've had with my team members, customers, partners and peers, it's pretty save to say: Things didn't go as planned for any one us. We've all had to make hard choices.

The first Forbes piece I published in January of this year, in hindsight, seems unwittingly prescient. I surely didn't see any of this coming, and ironically, it's one of the least popular articles I've published, but I came back to revisit this idea many many times over the coming months.

As events unfolded, I did indeed see that adaptability was a key factor determining the fate of companies in the midst of this global turmoil.

Many struggled, and either failed or are in survival mode. Some were able to adapt and flourish. Obviously, some companies were already positioned better to adapt: either because their business model was already geared towards the changes which the pandemic would bring, or because they had large cash reserves, stable revenue streams, had very agile structures, or many other factors, etc.

Some of our customers who've been bringing innovation to education have seen massive growth as more learning moved online. Others customers, like FareHabor, an online tour booking software provider, with more than 600 employees in 7 offices around the world had to drastically change gears, because tourism around the globe has collapsed.

For Close, it turned out to be a surprisingly good year, and I'm deeply grateful to be working with a team of so talented, smart, caring and driven people.

I'll share some of our top crisis-related content further down, but let's take a step back and look at the bigger picture first:

Eternal truths of sales

Here's some of our best evergreen advice on sales we've published this year, that doesn't relate to either the current crisis, nor the topic of remote, but holds true no matter what context you put it into.

Radical candor for sales teams: How authenticity and transparency close more deals

Whether you're a sales person or managing a sales team, I'm a big believer in being candid in all your communications—and yes, that does include your prospective customers too. In this post, I share some pragmatic approaches and actionable advice on how to practice radical candor in the context of sales.

How to write professional text messages to prospects

SMS is still an undervalued communication channel in sales. It's definitely not where closing happens—but it very often is the channel where you get a prospect that went quiet to re-engage with you. When you want to move deals toward the finish line, oftentimes an SMS is the most effective way of propelling them into motion.

Sales enablement: What is it, and how does it work?

Not the most exciting read ever, but a useful primer on sales enablement, the difference between sales ops and sales enablement, tools to use, metrics to track, best practices, and strategic advice.

The ultimate sales org chart guide (with awesome tools and templates)

If you're doing complex sales, selling into organizations and have many stakeholders involved, creating a sales org chart can come in handy. In this guide, we tell you which tools make it easy to create and maintain sales org charts, share samples and templates, and give you best practices to consider.

EdTech Sales: The ultimate guide to selling to schools during COVID-19

Now the title makes it sound like this is about selling during the pandemic specifically. But the advice on selling to schools and educational institutions is valid in any context.

How to perform a sales analysis (step-by-step with methods & metrics)

I like to think of sales analysis as a data-backed reality check. A ruthless deep-dive into the numbers of your sales team that'll help you achieve (and exceed) your sales goals. In this guide, we share different kinds of sales analyses, a 3-step process, and important metrics to track.

The ultimate sales analytics guide to increase your revenue

Another in-depth guide on using data and metrics and surfacing actionable insights to improve your sales team's performance and processes. This includes pricing, market size, competitor analytics, pipeline velocity, sales channels, forecasting, and brand metrics.

Remote selling & working

We've been a fully remote sales team (and company) ever since 2014. Here's some of our advice on remote: whether it's sales, culture, hiring, or managing.

Remote sales team? 4 ways to close more deals with video calls

We've all experienced Zoom fatigue at this point, but that doesn't mean video calls are dead. It just means the bar is set higher. You can't get away with the same clumsy approach that was fine when video calls where still a novel thing. To close deals with video calls in 2021, you need to be on top of your game—and we show you how!

4 must-know strategies for building a killer remote sales team

You want your sales team to dominate their quotas and close deals. But there's a challenge: due to the  COVID-19 crisis, all of a sudden your all-star sales team is now working and selling remotely from home. Now what?

How to communicate apart while working remotely

Mastering remote team communication was never easy—but in the midst of a pandemic and the wider crisis it brought with it, communicating effectively with your team members is even more important. Here's some of our best advice on doing it right.

Remote hiring: How to screen for remote culture fit

Hiring employees remotely brings its own set of challenges. One of the biggest ones is figuring out culture fit. Will this personal ultimately jell well with the team, or are there fundamental differences to the way they work and communicate that'll prevent them from really integrating into your company?

How to onboard remote employees

Once you've hired someone remotely—how do you make sure to get them up to speed quickly so that they can actually become a productive member of your team? How do you manage to give them a good first experience after they started working with you? We put a lot of care into this at Close, and share some of our own learnings with you in this post.

How to fire a remote employee?

No matter how well you try to get the hiring and onboarding right—every once in a while, you'll have to let people go. The biggest mistake you can make is to use remote as an excuse for keeping it impersonal.

Selling through a crisis

Here are some of our best posts of 2020 on the topic of selling in the midst of a crisis;

How to treat prospects that are hurting during this crisis

So many companies are facing serious challenges due to the COVID crisis. Deals you thought would be closed this quarter have suddenly gone out the window. Millions of people have been suddenly laid off from their jobs. Your prospects are suffering. So, what should you do with prospects like these? Is it time to forget about them and move on?

Selling during COVID-19: How to turn a dry pipeline into a well of golden opportunities

While some companies are able to adapt to a crisis, make it work, or even flourish, it's also undeniable that many struggle. If there are no deals on the horizon, it's time for your sales team to change gears. Here some both practical and creative ideas on how exactly to do this.

Sales lead gen without tradeshows during COVID-19

You've been generating leads through tradeshows and events, and all that got shut down because of the pandemic? Here are some new ideas for getting quality prospects into your sales pipeline.

COVID-19 churn prevention: Your customers are cutting costs. Don't just let them cancel.

In a downturn, companies reduce their spending. Don't end up on the chopping block. Here's some things you can do to reduce the likelihood of seeing your customer churn go through the roof.

How to start every meeting during this crisis

Whether you're having a virtual meeting with a prospective customer, a team member, partner, or co-worker, here's some common sense advice on how to start your conversations.

How to close deals during a pandemic: Avoid these 2 big mistakes

I've seen sales people commit two deal-killing mistakes during this crisis: Being overly concerned about how their prospects perceive them, and assuming that prospects won't buy anyway. Neither of these are helpful. In this post I share what to do instead.

Selling in a crisis: 12 ways to be proactive in your approach

This wasn't the first downturn I've been selling through—here are 12 lessons I learned from doing sales in past economic downturns.

Winning the emotional war in sales

In this post I share five simple self-care tips for sales reps. I believe they're helpful in any climate, but in a crisis, they're so much more valuable.

COVID-19 killed your industry? Here's how a tour booking software keeps selling through the crisis

Few industries have been as badly affected as travel and hospitality. So here's how one of our customers in that business has adapted and made it work.

21 sales memes everyone doing B2B sales in 2020 will get

Finally, let's end things on a light note—there's been enough heavy stuff this year. We've curated some funny sales memes to lighten up your mood.

Whatever 2021 will bring, let's be the best we can.