There's no debating that COVID-19 changed life as we know it around the globe. But what is debatable is when — and if — we'll fully return to normal. From a business perspective, companies and organizations can count on one thing: Many of the shifts and trends in digital consumer behavior we saw over the past year are here to stay. In fact, some industries are already operating 5 to 10 years in the future thanks to the pandemic.
While there are many insights to take in as we continue to navigate the first half of 2021, we wanted to get a first hand account on how businesses are adapting in order to not just be digital first in their approach, but "digital best" to ensure they're not just surviving online, but rather thriving. We spoke to a few of our customers and partners to get their takes on the biggest trends of the past year that were most relevant to their business, their strategies as we move forward, and a few bold predictions for 2021.
Up next in our multi-part series, we have Elay Cohen, co-founder and CEO at Saleshood, the sales enablement platform company.
While 2020 was a case study in unpredictability, it was also a year of tremendous transformation through innovation. What shifts or trends stood out most to you in your industry?
EC: We've shifted from virtual selling being the exception and in-person selling being the expectation to virtual selling being the expectation and in-person selling being an exception.
Actually, I recently wrote a blog about virtual selling and the importance of evolving the way we run remote meetings. You can learn more here.
Has your view of digital changed this year? And what do you think will be its importance looking forward into 2021?
It's even more important today than ever in our digital history to create practical and relevant content that's accessible and easy to find.
[That's why] search is so important: It's critical to helping our buyers buy. Buyers want to buy on their timeline. Our lives are not 9-to-5 anymore. Everything is upside down. Buyers will search for what they need when it's most convenient. If your buyers aren't served up with the information they need, they'll go elsewhere to find answers.
Make a bold prediction about your industry: What's going to happen — or emerge as a hot new trend — in 2021?
I'll give you three:
We'll see massive technology consolidation with strategic partnerships and M&A accelerating to provide companies, sales teams and salespeople with fewer technology platforms
Streaming content services, like Netflix, will become the norm in B2B — not just B2C — to educate and enable our virtual workforce
CRM will be reimagined with personalized just-in-time learning paths powered by artificial intelligence/machine learning
In 2021, it's no longer enough for businesses to be digital first. Instead, it's about becoming "digital best." How are you thinking about continuing digital transformation in order to be best in class? What strategies will you continue? Which will you sunset?
We're planning to make search more ubiquitous in our buyer's journey from awareness, to education, to interest, to buy, to succeed — and Yext Answers will be the foundation of Search on our websites.