When building a sales acceleration tool you are forced to really understand the sales market and what the trends are. Between the Sales Stack Community, Sales Influencers, Sales Hacker, and client conversations I’ve been able to better understand what people want to know about, and where sales are going. Here are the topics that come up the most in the various communities where I am active:
- Knowing Your Customer: This is not a new concept. Simply take a marketing 101 class to understand the value of target markets and niches. The difference now is that each sales rep is expected to know their customer, and every customer has far more public information than ever before. With the dawn of Jigsaw (now Data.com) companies realized that you don’t have to wait for individuals to update information. You can get a computer to do it. With all of this data and all of the new ways to analyze it you can not only confirm an individual’s contact information, but you can know their interests, their conversation, their network, and their needs.
- Lead Generation: If I had a nickel for every time I got a cold message on LinkedIn about a new lead generation service. Generating leads has become a complete strategy between demand generation, content marketing, SEO, SEM, warm calls, referrals, networking, Etc. Teams don’t need to leave their computer to identifying thousands of potential companies and decision makers from around the world. The number of software solutions for this is mind-boggling.
- Sales Automation: One of the hottest topics in lead generation is using sales automation. Basically sending hundreds of mass customized emails to target individuals in order to identify decision makers and start conversations. Within the last year I have seen 6 new companies come out of the woodwork. Utilizing template data to increase your reply rates one percentage point at a time.
- Social Selling: Almost everyone has a social presence in one form or another. Listening and reacting to the right conversations can help sales reps build rapport with prospects. Delivering insight into your prospect’s challenges.
- Streamlining Marketing & Sales: This has been a problem for a very long time. The biggest challenge has been to define what it means to have a high quality qualified lead so that both marketing and sales optimize their follow-up strategies. Because of the traditional cultural divide between marketing and sales individuals have not been willing to work together to increase the efficiency of the sales cycle. Many tools have been released in order to have shared content between the two internal teams, but I believe there is much more to come. Especially with Hubspots new CRM which works seamlessly with their marketing automation software. Basically eliminating the divide between marketing and sales.
- Using Data To Redefine The Sales Cycle: Pipeline analytics tools allow sales managers to visualize where the bottlenecks are in the process. Looking at the entire process from lead acquisition to close.
- Empowering Sales Reps To Make Decisions: A sales development team is not the same as a tele-sales team. Selling B2B solutions can be complicated and take an intelligent individual that can think for them selves. That means eliminating canned responses and using more data in their day-to-day process to tailor their message to individual prospects.
- The Growth Of Inside Sales: Everywhere you look in the sales community people are talking about how to scale your sales development rep team. Although there is definitely still a need for account managers, there has been an increase dependence on internal sales teams that can better qualify large numbers of leads and even close a big portion of small and medium-sized clients over the phone.
- The Need For A CRM: Excel, and your memory, just aren’t good enough anymore. Because of the time to train individuals and input data into CRMs, managers have continued to stay clear. These concerns will be eliminated with the launch of more intelligent CRM systems that handle a larger and larger portion of the data entry.
- Sales Training: The idea of throwing someone into the deep end or shadowing a superstar rep are becoming obsolete. Sales team training, if done properly, can increase your ROI for each sales rep. The concept of continuously coaching and supporting sales reps is becoming the new norm.
- Domain Expertise For Sales Teams: Generalist sales reps are giving way to domain experts. Empowering sales reps to create their own personal brand, twitter following, and blog. Really getting to the root of customer problems and providing an intelligent customized solution.
- Sales Team Scaling & ROI: Traditionally sales teams have depended on the super star sales rep to average out the team. That is an old way of thinking. It is now expect that your entire team meet and exceed their quota. This goes back to sales training and support. Giving sales reps the resources they need to be successful and tracking what is working and not working. Incrementally improving each aspect of the sales process.
- Content In The Sales Cycle: Tools like presentations, contracts, and proposals have always been part of the sales cycle. What about ebooks, videos, blogs, and case studies. All of these tools position sales reps as an expert and allow teams to track what is working and not working as well as gaining insight into what interests your prospects.
- Customers Want Quantifiable Results: Delivering an ROI. The main reason that many companies do not implement new tools is because they are uncertain that the time involved in implementing and utilizing the new tools will generate the return they need to make it worth their while. Sales productivity tools are now focused on delivering results to clients in the form of time saved or revenue generated.
- Having A Clear Sales Process: All of the other trends are part of creating a clear sales process. From hiring to lead generation, to qualifying, to follow ups, to closing. Depending on one-off sales reps or one-off techniques does not allow teams to scale and generate a clear return on investment. By creating a quantifiable process, managers can diagnose each aspect of the process to implement incremental improvements.
I believe that todays sales trends are similar to the marketing trends 10 years ago. Utilizing more data in decision-making, creating clear processes, empowering sales reps, and generating a clear return on investment. If you want to see more articles on sales trends take a look at Top 10 Business Trends That Will Drive Success In 2015 and 2015 Trends Report: Sales Process, Sales Strategy, Social Media Trends, Sales Techniques, and Forecasting.
CloseFox takes the guesswork out of sales follow ups by providing insight into prospect minds. By simply attaching your sales documents and videos to your email and sales automation templates CloseFox identifies which prospects to follow-up with and how. Allowing sales teams to save hours every day and increase the effectiveness of follow-up calls and emails. Unlike other tools, CloseFox utilizes a proprietary algorithm to short list the highest probability prospects, then provides the insight into what your prospects want. Empowering your team to win more deals.