Sales & Business Trends 2017
“Sales is just a numbers game”. However, there’s no reason you can’t improve conversion rates with just a few simple adjustments to your team’s protocols. Here’s what our team found in conclusion to 2016 and what peers to be on the verge of making it big for B2B for 2017.
1.) Sales Communication going Social
It’s not about emails anymore. Yes, we use those to document, track, and make positive everything’s in that “box” finalized. However, with more B2C marketing campaigns being done on social media, the same is slowly applying to B2B. Getting more information out there to the masses (where, let’s face it – we do spend some, if not most of our time on these days…) Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc. But there’s a little more to it than that.
Decision makers spend their free time on various different social networks, browsing, rummaging through what’s new in various different groups, news feeds, and p00f, out pops up an ad, something they’ve taken interest in, via search engines or other group posts…and now it slowly starts to follow you, where ever you go. Where sooner or later, you’re going to click on that “steal of a deal” or “free demo” because, in essence, it’s clearly targeting you correctly based on what you’ve hunted for.
And then you have another thing you need to come to realization with – messengers. Whether it be via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others being used on a personal level. Messages come in instantly, giving you instant response times. And imagine, the same can be applied to your work life. Not everyone has the ability to “give me your skype name” and then we’ll coordinate a time and set up a meeting or write-up an email and wait for a response (sometimes hours/days on end). Messengers via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram are all perfect examples where you can get in touch with someone faster than simply sending in an email. And, with most of them having read receipts, you can see whether or not your message/question/concern has been looked at. Nothing more settling that knowing someone’s gotten it and they’re working on it. Think about that.
2.) Deep Research IN → Mass-Volume Selling OUT
Instead of trying to reach every prospect, getting that mass generalized email out there it’s time deep research is made about the prospect you’re looking into. This especially applies to those sales reps early in their careers. Finding out who they are, what they do, maybe something has shown up in a PR about new projects on the way, and all of a sudden, you see you’re a perfect match. You have all the right tools, people, and even solution to make their business rise to the top. Reaching out with this information up your sleeve is far better than doing a simple cold call, pitching them in a minute tops about something that they “may” benefit from. Dissect and find out who’s worthy of your call, who’s worthy of what you have to offer, because chances are they’ll appreciate you doing research and understanding their burdens or needs and coming up with a plausible solution that benefits you all. Nothing worse than knowing less about the subject than the person they’re calling.
Quality over quantity will drive success – in the long run.
3.) Sales Management Education
Assembling a sharp and effective sales team can feel like trying to build a boat while you’re docking into the water. Sales is one of the world’s oldest professions and isn’t it funny that it’s rarely taught through programs at post-secondary institutions? But, I’m sure you’ve always heard the expression “you either have what it takes to sell, or you don’t”. Yes, and no. It obviously helps if you think like a customer, if you think/feel like the person that’s being pitched, and some of us have this capability naturally “you could sell ice to an eskimo” – another saying I’m sure you’ve heard once or twice.
However, sales training programs do exist (and yes, post-secondary institutions are amping up their sales programs slowly). They are deployed at most larger organizations because a larger organization is far more established and can spare time on its employees to learn something more. Whereas, small-medium businesses want to make it big and hire an experienced salesperson right off the bat to get things moving. Often times though, they get promoted and the next reps that come in to build the team, fend for themselves. All this can be sped up with a little investment, that goes a long way, no matter the size of the business.
4.) Big Data
Much of the data we gather today helps salespeople drive meaningful conversations with potential prospects. Whether it be through back-office systems like CRM, ERPs, and others out there, sales teams can create detailed prospect profiles. However, imagine if one of the world’s largest tech companies decided to get into the sales game? Or what if professional networks like LinkedIn joined forces with review sites like Capterra? And let’s take it a step further, all this data was harness and put into something like Office Graph or other process mining tools? Knowing every move that’s being done from a buyers standpoint is a dream. Even google can’t explain to us why some people visit e-shops 27x and then make their purchase. That’s a simple example, but imagine if you could gain information on projects that expand months on end, involve numerous people? The power of big data could become even larger – and some of the world’s largest companies could soon become data powerhouses.
But instead of buying a list of technological solutions, from various companies – we all want simplicity. A single platform to rule them all. Salesforce is on its way to building such a platform with help of its Einstein, the artificial intelligence element that serves as the foundation for each of its clouds.
5.) Sales And Content Marketing Become Fully Integrated
There’s no explaining needed here. They work hand-in-hand. One without the other is pointless. Create content based on market research that’s trending, and combine that with what the sales team deems viable based on calls with prospective buyers that thrive for more information. Marketing can help get that information out there and also in the pockets of your sales team.
6.) Video in its Prime
According to a recent Forbes study, video is becoming a critical source of information for executives:
1.) More than 80% said they are watching more online video today than they were a year ago.
2.) Three-quarters (75%) of executives surveyed said they watch
work-related videos on business-related websites at least weekly; more than half (52%) watch work-related videos on YouTube at least weekly.
3.) Overall, 65% have visited a vendor’s website after watching a video.
And just to be sure, Hubspot’s Consumer Behavior Survey confirms this trend. Over half (55%) of users say they consume an entire video, compared to 29% for blogs and 33% for interactive articles. If you want your entire message to be consumed, video tends to be the preferred medium of choice.
“Valuable content will attract and self-serving hype will repel customers.”
7.) SME’s get Sales Support
There seems to be a direct correlation when it comes to increased growth in revenue and acquiring subject matter experts. Organizations understand that SMEs might not have the ideal professional or interpersonal skills to drive the buying process with customers, however, paired with a sales person, and you kind of have a winning duo. The Robin to your Batman. The keyword in subject matter expert is the EXPERT. Without proper support and training, SMEs could miss opportunities. However, when it comes to the customer and them choosing between a salesperson and an SME, 9/10 the customer still prefers to work with SMEs over traditional salespeople.
And organizations today recognize that SMEs often have extensive roles. Their time is invaluable, and making them work efficiently is key. So how do we advise?
1. Frame and reinforce skills to understand the sales process in your organization to better appreciate how customers make decisions and how to “sell” honestly.
2. Deploy sales support professionals within your sales team so that they work together managing proposals, client details, and ensuring stability with clients who are primarily serviced by SMEs.
3. Automation tools that can be implemented should be done so, to keep important tasks from falling through the cracks and ensure focus on the right opportunities.
4. Make your everyday work ethics lighter and simpler; use tools/software/solutions that will make your teams productivity increase rather than being held back. For example, CRM solutions are very complicated, busy, confusing and not always user-friendly and in your pocket. Resco Mobile CRM offers all this and more with proven statistics in various different industries and used cases.
8.) Narrow Down your Segments
Everyone seems to want to hit everyone, everywhere. It’s not fool proof. Deliver content and communicate with your potential prospects TAILORED to your preferences and theirs. As mentioned above, it may take a bit of research, but it’s beyond rewarding.
Instead of doing everything possible at 1% completion, do one thing at a time with a 100% completion, you’ll get results much quicker and positive turnarounds. This way, you can manage what works, what doesn’t, and what needs a bit of tweaking. Do not ever think it’s worthless to address different market segments (big or small) individually. One-size doesn’t fit all.
9.) Recurring Revenue
Companies continue to shift from single, up-front payments for products/solutions to recurring revenue. It’s a cloud world out there, there’s cloud pricing sweeping the nation. And financial markets have noted that it’s steadily growing in popularity. Adobe Creative Cloud, Telecommunications, heck, even your Cable TV works on this principle. Whether it be monthly or annually, smart companies recognize that recurring revenue with a high renewal rate demonstrates perceived customer value. (This is a strong marketing message btw).
If you give your client the choice to renew or leave every month, then you’ll have your finger on the pulse of your market. However, when it comes to mass solutions that need to be implemented in an organization, a lot of time is dedicated to the implementation process, man days, prep, and migration, thus, when it comes to extraneous situations such as these, it’s understandable as to why billing is made annually – it’s not as easy as a simple cellphone plan.
10.) Offline Security Intelligence
Everyone worries about data being secure online and in the cloud. But what about data that’s in your mobile device? Information in the cloud and being online has been secured in various different ways, encryptions, et al. However, the device that holds all your important data, can be stolen, left behind, misplaced – then what?
Look for solutions out there that offer offline security intelligence, such as Resco Mobile CRM for your CRM needs. Keep your teams productivity high and any security breaches at an all-time low. Imagine being a salesperson out the field, during a meeting you’re taking down important notes, and then you’re hurrying off to the next meeting and you just so happened to forget your tablet at the partner’s office and now precious data can be tampered with. Resco’s solution works on the principle of knowing any odd activity that doesn’t seem adjacent to what the user normally does with their CRM – all offline, with no online connectivity needed. You’ll be able to see any suspicious activity as to whether the stolen tablet is used during different hours, seeing it being used at different locations that you’re not even at. And then comes the next question, now what I know it’s in someone elses hands, what do I do now? Resco offers you the ability to block the device from being used remotely, or even a complete wipeout of data so that CRM data misuse is to an absolute minimum. Keep things on lockdown no matter if you’re online or offline.