There are always ebbs and flows in the world of sales.
As I reflected on trends happening right now in sales, seven things stood out. Three trends relate more to how businesses are handling customers or clients and four relate more to reps and sales leaders.
All are important as we wrap up 2022 and get ready for the challenges of a new year ahead.
3 Trends I See With Customers
Businesses have caught onto the idea of customer-centricity and putting clients first. As reps engage from the sales function to their accounts or product end users, here are three things I see as prevalent dynamics.
A Focus on Existing Customers
Every headline threatens a looming recession and ongoing market volatility. Whether for that reason or not, I can’t say, but I can say that I see companies engaging more with existing customers.
A lot of them are going deeper and wider. They’re the perceived easier wins that haven’t gotten the time they should have gotten. It’s a “taking care of what you have” mentality that is trending, and I think it will yield positive outcomes.
Highly Informed Buyers
We’ve talked about this before, but you can’t not talk about it. Every year and every month this trend is on an upward trajectory. People have more and more access to information. It’s a constant state of data influx and on-demand learning.
81% of buyers do research before they buy a product. And that’s just a product. It means a huge percentage are doing it for solutions, even to the highest level of B2B enterprise sales.
This due diligence means that reps have to get sharper, not just offering noise or an echo of the information individuals already have. It has to get personal. The dots have to be directly connected to what’s on a prospect or lead’s whiteboard. It has to be simple and quick.
Upskilling Sales Teams
Throughout the pandemic, there was a freeze on professional development. The goal was homeostasis. But there’s a flux happening now as businesses consider the future and what it will take for reps to be equipped to handle it.
I’m seeing a lot of smart companies that realize, “now is the time. We’ve gotten a little lackadaisical or a little conservative. It’s time to go for it.” They are acknowledging that they’ve got to take and use resources wisely right now.
I was with a client a few weeks ago and they were clear, “we’re hitting and exceeding our number. But I think we’ve been a little lucky. We’re at 130% of quota. Now’s the time to invest in skill development. If there is a downturn and things get tighter and tougher, we have to be better and sharper and ready to go.”
Ergo, an investment in sales training programs. Like ours.
4 Trends I See With Reps and Sales Leaders
For sales organizations, I’m seeing four big trends.
The first two are connected.
Data and Technology
Right now, as a salesperson and sales manager, data and analytics are the hottest commodity and really the currency of success. You can buy more data than you can ever imagine, which is awesome. People have access to it but the real challenge in front of us is harnessing it and doing something useful with it.
You have to gain the ability to pull data together and make it a tool that your reps can use. There’s absolutely a trend around big data and how analytics are going to change the landscape of the work we do.
Indexing tools and sales tools are increasingly powered by artificial intelligence (AI). This can be as simple as an algorithm that helps collect and filter contacts based on keyword criteria to complex neural networking applications that make broad and minute connections between disparate data sets.
Suffice it to say, the use of artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies is changing the entire landscape of business, including the sales process. Everything from preliminary prospecting to churn protection can now benefit from the automation supplied by AI.
It won’t take salespeople out of the equation, but it will support the progress and precision of the work they do.
The ability to sell in primarily virtual or digital contexts relies heavily on social selling. This trend has been trending for a while, but it’s becoming a dominant tactic for reps everywhere.
The platforms on which social selling can take place are expanding. I’m a big LinkedIn fan. I was with a group of salespeople a few weeks ago and they admitted, “it’s all LinkedIn Messenger.” They network through LinkedIn and create demand by writing articles and driving people to their profiles.
But it’s not just traditionally business oriented platforms that are unlocking opportunities. People are now using platforms like Instagram and TikTok. The B2B buying journey has evolved. There are whole new strategies for personal branding, messaging, and networking that are happening exclusively in virtual social contexts.
Freemiums and Low Cost
It is getting tougher and more competitive. Gaining access — overcoming unReceptivity — is very hard. Reps have to figure out more creative ways to get in the door.
This is being achieved in a couple of ways:
- Offering freemiums, where something valuable is available at no cost, which incentivizes someone to give a rep access.
- Low cost options, where a discount or some form of cost saving is offered. This may mean that a manager can purchase at a lower price point without major risk or needing upladder permission.
It’s important for reps to have some flex, thinking outside the box to get the all-important meeting.
Final Word: Retain Your Good Salespeople
There is a high demand for good salespeople right now. Hiring and retention is possibly harder than it’s ever been. You better take care of your salespeople. They will have other offers.
One of the best ways to do this is give them a chance to grow. Pathways for growth — professionally and personally — are highly motivating to high performers. At ASLAN, we work directly with your A-players and leaders, giving them elite tools to see just how masterful they can become in this work.