Does your sales strategy need a jumpstart? At the start of a new year we are all trying to build on the previous year’s successes and weed out any obstacles that caused speed bumps and challenges. As technology continues to evolve, sales teams have to adapt their approach to align with how customers are traversing the sales funnel:
- Only 19% of buyers seek to engage with a sales person when they are learning about the product (awareness stage).
- 60% only reach out to sales once they have conducted intensive research on the product and decided on a short list (consideration phase)
- 20% want to talk to a sales person when they have made a clear purchasing decision and wish to place an order. (decision stage)
These days, prospects are going online and learning about a product or service from websites, peer reviews, advertising etc. and don’t require a sales person to talk them through it. They can easily compare the specs of different offerings and their prices to come to their own conclusions. This means that sales teams have to work closely with marketing teams to leverage big data to learn more about their target audiences. We are now able to glean buyer’s intent (intent signal monitoring) in near real time and can activate our marketing campaigns or sales outreach almost instantaneously to meet their needs.
“I believe technologies that bring to the forefront “buyer intent”-related signals will gain traction and dominate much of the Account Based Selling and Marketing movement in 2018.” –Lars Nilsson, VP of Global Inside Sales, Cloudera
Let’s take a look at some of the trends dominating sales strategies for 2018:
- These artificial intelligence (AI) ‘employees’ are available 24/7 to handle any sales queries. Lead generation forms will become obsolete as your virtual assistant will handle the discovery conversation with the prospect directly on the website. A calendar invite will get dispatched with a sales demo arranged. In the future chatbots are set to handle sales calls and close deals.
- The power of review sites. Buyers rely heavily on product/service reviews before investing in a purchase. Review sites are gathering vast storehouses of data linked to reviews on a wide range of industries. People require social proof before committing to buying and your customer service and offering has to be of the highest quality to garner relevant reviews.
- People don’t want to hear your rehearsed sales pitch they want to be enticed with a tantalizing story. Buyers want to be entertained with an emotionally triggering message. The time of the PowerPoint sleep inducing sales push is over, the time of TED Talk style narrative storytelling is what is required. A good story excites the imagination, prickles the senses and demands attention. Focus on creating sales content that is story based. Your target audience should look forward to connect with you –to hear the next chapter. Your brand offering needs to be a page turner with a few great cliff-hangers.
- Personalization of the “About Us” info. When prospects visit your site or engage with your sales team they want to know the origin of the company. They want to know more about the humans that make up the company. Whose brainchild was it to start the journey? What is the company culture? What values and mission that create loyal customers and employees? This feeds into the ‘storytelling’ point above. People do not have patience for jargon and lengthy product descriptions, they want to get swept up in the brand narrative. The entire sales team needs to know that story backwards.
- Cultural Sensitivity Training. Intercultural awareness education has become essential for many companies doing business in foreign/emerging markets. Business leaders trained in cultural diversity close more deals. Online courses like the Master Guestmanship Academy can train entire sales teams at an affordable price tag. These tools ensure improved business relationships through culturally sensitive, intercultural dialogue.
- GDPR Regulations limit the use of some outbound practices. This European regulation impedes companies from attempting to make unsolicited contact with prospects. There will be a renewed focus on channel sales like consultants, conferences, communities etc. where those entities have already forged trusted relationships with buyers.
- The customer experience is paramount. The focus in 2018 is on customer happiness. You have to build relationships and expend energy on retention strategies. Your customers want highly personalized information that comes to them on their mobile devices with upsell and cross sell opportunities.
“The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.” – Jerry Gregoire
- Integrated Tech Stacks. It’s not just about having a great CRM system –that is only one element. You need a tech stack that ensures a company can perform at peak capacity at every stage of their sales process.
- SDR’s Build Personal Brands. As a sales rep’s role is currently transforming there is an increased focus on individuals building their personal brands (particularly on LinkedIn) and in the process adding value to their company. Grow your online reputation –it is no longer an option, it’s a necessity.
These are only a few trends that are impacting sales teams across the globe. What we know for sure is that the landscape is changing and it’s essential to stay ahead by revising antiquated sales approaches. We are moving way past prospecting our friends, speaking unintelligible jargon that alienates customers, thinking business cards are a primary source of connection, talking about how great ‘we’ are and not letting the customer know how they will benefit, writing long emails that no one is going to read etc. We have to evaluate how we have done things in the past so we can bring our sales strategies inline with how customers want to communicate with a company. It all starts with re-evaluating your business sales strategy.
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