10 Trends to Consider
Before inking your sales strategies, however, take a few minutes to review the following trends. They should inform your sales strategies and – hopefully – pave the way to a successful 2015.
1) Subject-Matter Experts – We’re in an age where information is virtually more prevalent than the air we breathe. Consequently, contemporary consumers expect sales people to be subject-matter experts, and are likely to walk away from old-school sales reps who are pushy and manipulative. Not only should today’s salespeople possess in-depth knowledge of their offerings, but their skill set also should include an understanding of how customers make buying decisions; using the latter information, sales professionals should then be equipped to maximize the alignment between buyers and sellers.
2) Sales and Marketing Integration – Recent research indicates that the average customer is diligently doing his/her homework. In fact, most are more than halfway through the purchase process before even speaking with a vendor. In light of this consumer due diligence, it’s now crucial for sales and marketing to be tightly integrated. Or, more specifically stated, content marketing and sales strategy must be tightly integrated. If they aren’t, consumers will – understandably – question the company’s credibility.
3) Results Rule – In past years, particularly during the 2008 economic collapse, consumers placed a premium on low prices. With the economic outlook now more optimistic, sophisticated buyers are turning their focus to results – results for which they are willing to pay premium prices. To capitalize on this paradigm shift, sellers must be able to legitimately validate – versus merely offer PR puffery – the proven value that merits elevated price tags.
4) Not every Customer is Welcome – Conventional sales wisdom once leaned toward casting a wide net and welcoming all comers. In 2015, sales-savvy companies are shunning such shotgun approaches, and coming to the realization that random Facebook “likes” or page views aren’t the strategic path to desirable customers. They’ve additionally concluded that some customers simply aren’t worth their time. Consequently, 2015 strategies should be shaped by not only which consumers are a good fit, but also by those who fall into the better-to-avoid category.
5) People Matter – Just as all customers are not interchangeable, neither are a company’s employees. Personnel can make a fundamental difference in an organization’s success – a fact that is particularly applicable in sales. As a result, many enterprises are making a commitment to enabling their employees to truly achieve work-life balance through a host of innovative offerings, such as paid sabbaticals every three years. These offerings pay off in recruitment, retention, and increased customer satisfaction.
6) Multiple Touch-Points – Gone are the days when customers were connected with your business by physically walking through the front door. In 2015, customers – as well as prospects – may never physically present themselves. Instead, they will intersect with your enterprise via multiple points of contact and multiple channels. As a result, all personnel who potentially can have customer contact must be trained to deliver a consistent experience and to leverage cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.
7) Trust Trumps Technology – While there’s no question that technology has reshaped the buyer-seller landscape, it has yet to make salespeople obsolete. In fact, although technology has created multiple entry points, it actually has upped the ante in terms of the interpersonal skills needed when human-to-human contact is made. Today – more than ever – sales professionals must be masters of quickly determining what their customers value and then using that framework as a foundation on which to establish trust.
8) Enterprise-Wide Sales Training – Businesses that are establishing best practices are now investing in enterprise-wide workshops that expose all employees to the company’s goals and strategies in relation to sales, marketing, and overall customer experience. To be successful today, sales can no longer be a siloed.
9) Mobile is a Must – If you’re currently not reaching customers through mobile platforms, make 2015 the year that changes. Consumers now routinely turn to their smartphones – both in store and out – to research products and services as well as to actually make purchases. Consequently, your business’ website must be constructed for viewing on multiple platforms, including mobile phones. Consideration also should be given to creating an app through which customers can be offered discounts as well as informed of new products and services.
10) Inbound Selling – Inbound sales should be playing a starring role in your business’ sales strategy. Consumers circa 2015 want to drive their own buying experiences, and forward-thinking companies must proactively land on shoppers’ digital radars. Consequently, if you haven’t already launched a blog, bought online ads, or created calls to action on landing pages – now is the time.
Try to implement a few of these strategies, and see how your business improves.
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