Every single job on this planet revolves around selling — from creators to consumers — we’re either getting paid for something we made, or getting paid money to help put the pieces together so someone can sell something — only to turn around and spend that money we made on something somebody else created. Sales are just about as important as food and water to our existence.
Times, as always, are a-changing as marketers split their focus between maxing out on holiday sales and formulating a game-plan for what’s to come in 2018, capitalising on the latest marketing and sales trends looming on the marketplace horizon.
From increased focus on sales training, to video replacing text in emails — and even a shift from mega to micro in the influencer marketing world, things are set to make yet another big shift this year.
Here’s 5 sales trends to watch out for as 2017 shifts to 2018:
1. More Focus on Training Lead-Gen (SDR) Agents
This is definitely exciting news for anyone working in, or seeking to enter into a sales role. Sales Development Representatives, tasked with identifying outbound leads to hand off to closers has long been a role that’s treated as a low level, no-experience-or-training-necessary type of role. These folks toil away on the phone and behind a computer screen all day, eking out a meagre living generating leads to be passed off to the closers in the company.
Unfortunately, they’re often poorly trained, lack targeted focus, and will quickly move on once something more fulfilling comes up. The best of the best often move into closing roles after a year or two in the trenches, but those are far and few between. Now, moving forward into the next year, companies will be placing more focus on “developing” and filling seats with the best SDRs possible — training them to seek out and qualify the best leads for the company — and raising their compensation to match the effort expected of them.
2. Video Prospecting Emails (B2B)
This might sound like something that’s been done to death already, but it hasn’t. Video prospecting emails have been used in the B2C world for awhile now, but not in a terribly targeted manner (Ie., marketers create a few videos to split-test among a vast audience of list subscribers or landing page visitors). Now, while B2C businesses are looking for ways to use AI to personalise the buyer experience, B2B sellers are using video-based sales emails to get through to notoriously hard-to-reach decision makers working in SME and corporate businesses.
The key is personalisation — if you don’t film a heart-felt, highly targeted video for your prospect, you might as well post a generic vid on YouTube and see how many flies that stale honey can attract. Try free browser extensions like Soapbox or Loom to easily create personalised video pitches directly from your phone or computer camera and save yourself the trouble of typing an email or text message.
3. Messaging Apps Replacing the Phone Call
The idea of a sales rep making a phone call to a prospect is becoming less and less likely moving into and beyond 2018. For the majority of consumers in the digital era, we don’t even bother answering the phone unless we recognise the number. “If it’s important, they’ll leave a message” or “Who calls anymore, text me” are the common mentalities toward a phone call. The only people I ever call on the phone are my landlord, the government, my doctor, and the plumber!
Yes, calling is dead and usually when a strange number comes up on the phone it’s someone trying to sell us something. Sales and marketing professionals are hip to this vibe and are quickly replacing traditional contact methods with modern digital preferences. Texts are replacing calls for appointment confirmations. Prospecting emails and DMs on social are replacing traditional phone calls. And website based chat functions are preferred by customers over toll free phone numbers for pre and post sales pricing inquiries and technical help.
However, this doesn’t mean technology is taking over entirely…
4. 2018 Will Bring Less Automation and More Human Interaction
Despite all the predictions that the human race is heading toward a SkyNet-ran world where we’ll be “pets” to our robots, or that people will morph into being more robot than flesh, it seems the sales world sees things differently. People want more interaction with actual humans, even if they’re not interested in hearing their sales rep’s voice on the phone or in person.This will impact all areas of sales, including lead gen and after sales support.
In 2018, it’s no longer considered acceptable to send an email that isn’t personalised to the recipient. Nor is it okay to do nothing more than allow mail merge to autofill names from your list in an email blast and call that personalised. Bots can’t replace human contact, and this year you’ll have to do better, such as taking the time to add a personalised opening paragraph to sales emails detailing what the two of you discussed in your last interaction, wishing them a happy upcoming birthday, or other personal detail with the ability to touch consumers close to their heart.
5. Shifting Focus to Micro-Influencers in 2018
First came banner blindness from the pre and post acai days. Then a disdain for affiliate-link-laden blogposts, that were obviously more about driving profit than informing and entertaining, made Internet users less likely to buy. Now, after a few years of aggressive selling from top influencers, advertisers and influencers alike are starting to niche down and find more targeted ways to get products in front of consumer’s eyes.
The big boys and girls in the influencer game have committed to be more discerning about who and what they recommend, in order to avoid turning off followers (Ie., we’ve all become sick of beauty brands that recommend 5 different brands of the “BEST facial cream” each and every week — and health bloggers dropping plugs for a thousand and one of the “BEST protein or wellness supplement” every post they make.) In 2018, the micro-influencer will start to enter the fold with their 500 – 100,000 laser-targeted followers to rest on every word they say. An influencer’s total reach will matter far less than who they can reach with a vlog, blog, or social recommendation for a given product.
Share Your Thoughts
What do you see as the biggest marketing and sales trends to shape the market in 2018?