Sales is one area of any business that will continue to be rocked by change. Switching up how you sell can be difficult – not to mention costly. However, shying away from change can cost you more and could even signal the beginning of the end of a company.
So, you always want to keep an eye on what trends are creeping over the horizon. Preparing early for what comes next allows you time to assess where your team stands and figure out which sales training options they might need to attend to ensure they have the best and most appropriate skills. With that in mind, here are some trends to look out for in the coming year.
Customer self-service portals
Today’s customers want to interact with businesses on their terms. This shift has accelerated the demand for customer self-service portals. Self-service portals are interactive online sites designed to help customers find answers to various queries. According to Statista, nearly 90% of U.S. consumers expect brands to have an online self-service portal.
For customers, self-service portals provide a centralized source of information that’s available 24/7. Besides unburdening your team, self-service portals can save companies money. Research by Accenture found that companies could see between $1-3 million in annual savings by adding a self-service feature.
If you chose to jump on this trend, keep the following in mind so you can reap significant and immediate benefits:
- Ease of access. Make the portal easy to find and navigate.
- Keep things up to date. Continuously tweak your knowledge base to ensure it stays relevant.
- Be consistent. Cohesion in terms of design and response across all channels puts across the right impression.
Alignment between marketing and sales
It seems logical that sales and marketing teams should be joined at the hip. However, for many decades, these two departments have often struggled to work together. After realizing that the benefits of collaboration run deep, though, the two are learning to harmonize their actions. For example, according to Marketo, when sales and marketing work in sync, you get shorter sales cycles and improved conversion rates.
Here are few tips that sales and marketing training courses share on how to tackle misalignment.
- Align key performance indictors (KPIs). Ensure that the KPIs and goals for both departments intersect. Shared goals and KPIs help eliminate friction and keep the two teams from chasing disparate objectives.
- Share an ideal customer persona (ICP). Have both departments work together to create an effective ICP. Pursuing the same ICP ensures that the efforts of the two teams complement each other.
- Centralize communications. A centralized communication system keeps everyone in the loop, limits distractions, and increases transparency.
Improving productivity with AI
As business competition continues to intensify, improving sales productivity remains a pressing concern. To edge out the competition, many companies are harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI).
AI-assisted automation offers numerous benefits. For example, AI can help improve lead scoring. More accurate lead scoring ensures reps are pursuing customers who are most likely to buy. AI-driven personalization also helps companies better understand their customers, which increases engagement and revenue.
AI can deliver astonishing results but requires full buy-in and committed resources. Here are a few best practices to make the most of this trend.
- Tie AI initiatives to company goals for maximum ROI.
- Work with the data you already have so you can score early wins.
- Consider working with an AI expert to get the project off the ground.
Omnichannel in B2B
Omnichannel shopping is becoming the new buying norm for B2B buyers. Fueling this growing preference is rising buyer interest and comfort with digital sales. Companies who’ve taken the plunge and executed solidly are enjoying an average 9.5% year-on-year increase in annual revenue, says Suresoft. What’s more, customers of companies with an effective omnichannel strategy usually have a 30% higher customer lifetime value.
Sales training companies that specialize in omnichannel learning offer the following tips on how to carve out a win in this space.
- Optimize the right channel so you’re sure to reach your target audience.
- Deliver a personalized and seamless experience across all channels.
- Continuously reevaluate your data, messaging, and strategies to keep pace with a constantly changing market.
Social selling is the practice of building connections and rapport with prospects on social media. With over 3.9 billion people actively using social media, social selling has gone from being a whispered buzzword to a bona fide trend to shout about.
Companies who’ve jumped on board are raking in big wins. According to OptinMonster, social sellers are 51% more likely to reach their quota. Also, almost 80% of salespeople who practice social selling make higher sales than their peers who do not.
Use these training tips on social selling to find success with this trend.
- Create content that speaks to the pain points of your customers.
- Connect and engage with leads regularly.
- Join relevant conversations to raise brand awareness and build credibility.