Another trip around the sun and the calendar year has almost come to an end. Yes, it’s time to look back and review what has happened. When it comes to ‘sales’, rapid changes took place over the year. Informed buying patterns, new technologies, globalization, and many other factors are responsible for changes in the sales environment. Let’s check out the most talked about trends of 2016.
- Smarketing: Integration of Sales & Marketing
Smarketing is the latest buzz word in sales. This is the integration of Sales and Marketing functions and refers to their alignment to ensure harmony in catering to the needs of customers.
A Aberdeen study shows that organizations with a strong alignment between marketing and sales achieve 20% annual revenue growth, in contrast to a 4% decline in annual revenues for companies with poor alignment.
In the Smarketing approach, both sales and marketing teams work together, right from attracting leads to converting them to customers. Alignment of both functions can be brought about through constant communication between them. The goals to be achieved by each division are decided by mutual consent so that both know who is responsible for what.
- Hybrid Sales Interactions
Organizations are combining face-to-face and virtual sales interactions for the comfort of their customers. Buyers prefer an informal and informed selling approach rather than direct, face-to-face sales conversations. This way, customers feel relieved of the selling pressure. At the same time, they seek help in person for crucial buying decisions.
To cater to this need, organizations have come up with the hybrid sales interaction model. In this, companies first create awareness on the newly introduced products on the web and social media, mostly through digital interactions. Interested prospects give their contact details for further information and pricing. Now most websites have a ‘chat messenger’ to promote virtual sales interactions. Prospects and sales teams talk directly or over the phone or WebEx to make a deal.
- Analytical Targeting
Sales teams are taking the help of analytics to understand buying patterns. Using analytics, organizations narrow down the buyer personas for better focus and analyze customers’ data, purchases, track buying patterns, needs, and challenges, and check for untapped possibilities. When your sales force knows the buying trends of targeted prospects, it becomes easy for them to sell. Now it’s easy to get predictive trends on customers’ behavior using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) analytics tools.
- Social Selling
When the sales force uses social media to have direct interactions with potential customers, that is social selling. Buyers are active in social communities and share their requirements, and challenges. Instead of disturbing them with a sales pitch, it is important to be present in their social community to meet their needs. Sales professionals act as facilitators, answering customer queries in social media and providing value added content on the product they sell. All this is to increase the buying appetite of prospects.
To gain the attention of Gerry Moran, SAP Social Media Head, for a sales proposal, People Browser’s Vice President Travis Wallis connected with him on Twitter and started an off-topic discussion. This helped Travis get a call from Gerry Moran. This is how social selling works!
- Integrative Learning
Constant learning has become an inevitable component of sales peoples’ lives, due to the ever changing sales landscape. Various learning environments should be integrated place and learning made handy for on-the-move sales professionals. Integrative learning is connecting skills and knowledge from various sources and experiences. This helps reps apply the learned skills and practice them in a real sales environment.
Confining training to classrooms or desktops may no longer work for the millennial sales force. Sales training and extended training support should support them to achieve better sales targets. After Instructor-Led Training (ILT) and online training, equipping the sales force with mobile learning solutions will fill the gap.
These latest trends show the necessity for organizations to realign their sales training practices. They need to check for the sales training and development model that accommodates the latest trends so that their sales teams stay competent.