The New Year has arrived and every expert under the sun has got their crystal ball out and is predicting the future of the sales industry for the year ahead. I’m no exception!
So let’s dive straight in and take a look at the five sales trends that I believe will emerge throughout 2016.
Trend #1 – Content will be used as part of the sales process
Today’s modern buyer is much more sales savvy than their predecessors. Just think about how you make a purchasing decision - you’ll most likely visit the web at some stage and whittle down the options.
This happens whether it’s a B2C or B2B purchase so the real savvy sales professionals and companies will try to engage and influence these prospects at the top of the funnel and help them to make their purchasing decision all throughout the sales process.
Think about what collateral and content you can use at the very beginning of the funnel, even before they engage with you. Where they are hanging out and visiting to find this information? When they do engage with you, how can you educate them and enable them along the process by being different? Can you send them a special research paper? A video? You need to stand out.
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The organisations that will do this successfully in 2016 will win the game, hands down.
Trend #2 – Time to turn the big data into small data (well…smallish…)
There’s data all around us.
Type in the term “Big Data” into the mighty Google and 52 million results come up. In 2015 this was a key trend and talking point.
In 2016, Big Data needs to become pockets of small data if it’s going to be managed. Most companies have lots of data on tap but see it as very overwhelming so they do nothing with it.
The most successful companies that I have engaged with in 2015 are starting small with Big Data. They are creating a set of clearly defined KPI’s and then extracting the data around those metrics. They then move on to add and enhance the data. The important thing with this is that they have made a start and have started small.
Those companies who start small with Big Data in 2016 will win the game, hands down.
Trend #3 – 2016 will be the year of the smart call
Each sales role has an element of marketing to it, if social media is involved
So what’s a smart call? It differs from a cold or warm call.
A smart call is one where a call is created off the back of an action. It’s more than just following up on a free web report that someone has downloaded. Let me give you an example to illustrate this:
If you call a prospect from a list that can be viewed a cold call, they don’t know you and you are calling them based on some criteria that you have set for the calling list - i.e segment, size of company, decision maker etc.
When you call someone because they have downloaded a free report from your website or if they have typed in an enquiry into your website, they can be classed as a warm call. They know of your company and you know what they have done.
Now assume that the same person has downloaded the free report from your website and over the next week they have visited the same product page 4 times and have visited your “about us” page twice. That prospect is somewhere down the buying and interest process and when you call this is classed as a smart call because you are engaging them based on their activity and interest. You now know what they could be interested in, and you can engage with them.
Of course, you need software to implement such a system but it is out there and it’s not too expensive either.
Those companies who start using smart calls in 2016 will win the game, hands down.
Trend #4 – The evolution of tech savvy sales professionals
I mentioned a Filofax in the office the other day and got a blank expression from everyone on the right side of 35! When taking my nine year-old daughter, Holly to school she saw the term “Fax” on a labourer's van and then questioned me to death about:
- What the point was of having the term “Fax” on the van instead of a web address or email. And...
- What the point was of having faxes when email and scanning exists.
Way to go Holly!
Long gone are the days where handwritten diaries are used for appointment setting and for writing notes on customers and prospects.
Technology products have soared for sales professionals and this will continue in 2016. There are so many systems, software and applications out there today for salespeople that will help them to become more productive and to help them make their numbers.
The sales professionals who embrace all of these new technologies will become more effective and efficient in all that they do - in 2016 they will win the game, hands down.
Trend #5 – Salespeople to become marketers
Social selling has turned sales professionals into mini-marketers as they share content, quotes and engage in conversations on the internet.
At both a micro and macro level, sales and marketing need to work more closely today than they have ever done in the past. Both need to know what each other is doing and there needs to be clear lines of engagement and implementation with common goals and KPI’s.
Each sales role kind of has an element of marketing to it if social media is involved and this needs to evolve and be taken to the next level in 2016.
If nothing else, marketing teams can really help the sales professional by creating a number of reports and tools for their sales teams to distribute before, during and after the sales process, freeing up the salesperson’s time to sell and to act as a distributor of added value material rather than the creator of it.
So sellers, it’s time to join the dark side!
Those companies who align sales and marketing to a common purpose in 2016 will win the game, hands down.
So there you have my five sales trends and predictions for 2016. Note, these will not be widespread. Looking over them now, they are the trends and predictions that the most successful sales-centric organisations will implement. So, good luck in 2016 - make it the best ever!