The new year is fast approaching. Is your organization set up for success? Are you prepared to leverage the sales trends experts predict will be big in the coming year? Or are you unwittingly putting your company at risk of falling behind with outdated methods, strategies and technologies?
If you want to perform at your highest level in 2018, you can’t ignore the following trends. From generational changes in the workforce, to the impact of AI, there’s plenty to take into account as you get ready for a successful year.
The Growing Impact of Millennials
“If you want to succeed in 2018, the odds are you need to know how to collaborate, manage and be managed by millennials,” says Mikko Honkanen of Vainu.
As Honkanen points out, millennials have been in the workforce for years; as a result, they’re no longer lowest on the totem pole. In 2018, forward-thinking companies must embrace their millennials’ enthusiasm and fresh perspectives in order to revitalize tired sales processes.
Account-Based Selling Continues Its Return
Since 2015, research by Demandbase has indicated that most marketers believe account-based marketing (ABM) is a “must have.” Though its counterpart, account-based selling (ABS), had fallen out of favor due to the organization-wide investment required, it’s been enjoying a resurgence over the past few years – a trend I expect will continue into 2018.
According to Brian Trautschold of Ambition, “The noise behind Account Based practices has been deafening at times, but the buzz has been building for good reason: when used correctly, account based tactics can shorten the buying cycle, increase lead-to-opportunity conversion rates, decrease Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), and reduce churn.”
Trautschold points to the availability of new technology as a key driver behind this change, as it’s made account-based strategies more scalable and cost-effective, whether a company is targeting SMBs or enterprise clients.
Deeper Integrations Between Sales and Marketing
Disappointingly, 51 percent of marketers are not satisfied with the level of communication between the teams, and 53 percent of sales professionals are not pleased with marketing’s support.
Transitioning to an “account-based everything” environment requires an “all hands on deck” mentality – the smallest implementation of which is a deeper integration between sales and marketing. Given the significant benefits that exist from cross-departmental collaboration (including real-time feedback on marketing strategies, competitive insight and more), I’m very much in favor of seeing this trend play out.
A 360-Degree Understanding of Customer Experience
Tim Asimos of Circle S Studios shares that, “In 2018, more firms will start to consider experience in every facet of their business, adopting a holistic or 360 degree view of experience. As user experience, customer experience, employee experience and brand experience converge, alignment of the four is essential to fulfilling the mission of each and ultimately creating sustainable competitive advantage.”
B2C salespeople and marketers have focused on customer experience for years. It’s about time B2B professionals caught up.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Enables Predictive Analytics
Into 2018 and beyond, AI is expected to bridge the gap between the collection of big data and its applications in the sales process. In the context of B2B, this might mean using predictive analytics to better understand where buyers are in the customer lifecycle, which offers are appropriate to pitch at any given point, and even how to reduce churn.
The AI tools of the future will take into account everything from sales data to CRM records, ERP system information and more. Adopting these tools and implementing their insights may be costly, but could be an important part of maintaining a competitive advantage in some industries in the years to come.
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