One thing that sales experts and gurus like to do at the start of each year makes predictions about the trends they believe will play out over the course of the year. Some are spot on – and others not so much.
While I certainly had predictions for where sales would head in 2015, I didn’t write a blog on the subject at the start of the year. Why? Because all of my blogs discussed future predictions!
As a sales manager, if you aren’t looking ahead 99% of the time, your team is going to fall behind. However, as the year comes to a close, it does occasionally pay to look back.
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Let’s take a look at some specific sales predictions that were made in early 2015 and examine if they’ve been fulfilled. If you anticipated these trends at the start of the year, think about how well your sales strategy took advantage of them and how you can improve your sales strategy next year.
2015 Sales Predictions
Social Media Will Have a Growing Role
According to most experts, being relatable to customers and connecting with them through the mediums that they frequently use is more important than ever before for companies. Those experts predicted that social media would be an ideal outlet for connecting with potential buyers and that sales reps who utilize it would enjoy a decided advantage over those who aren’t active on social media.
By all accounts, this prediction has come true. Having a social media presence has become more important than ever and is one of the most effective ways to humanize a brand and make it more personable. In fact, studies show that 78% of sales reps who use social media outsell their peers.
Analytical Data Will Become More Crucial
It seems like everyone is on the analytics bandwagon these days – and sales intelligence, big data, etc. is in vogue like never before. As you might expect, there were plenty of analytics related predictions at the start of 2015. For example, Fred Shilmover, CEO of Insightsquared stated that “analytics will trickle down from management and become a team-wide tool, and sales teams specifically will become much more metrics-driven as a result.”
Well said. You can’t deny that analytics play an integral role in more and more companies’ business operations. Forbes even reports “83% of business leaders have pursued big data projects in order to seize a competitive edge, and the big data market will attain a 17% compound annual growth rate for the forecast period 2011 to 2026.”
However, it’s necessary to point out that for analytics to truly be effective, the data generated has to be used correctly and that success ultimately relies on engaging with prospects and actual interaction. Using the analytics and insights gained from other solutions can help improve the quotes and guided selling process for which you rely on your CPQ solution. Integrating your CPQ insights with your CRM and other sales tools can ensure that you are following the best sales strategy possible.
Being Responsive to Customers Will Be More Important
Let’s be honest – there’s an underlying sense of ADD in today’s culture. You could even make the point that technology has rewired our brains somewhat to the point that everyone expects instant gratification. So how does this phenomenon relate to sales strategy? It means that online customers expect a prompt response to their inquiries, and they don’t want to wait around while sales reps take their sweet time.
Appropriately, the final prediction I’ll cover here was that expediting the response time would be vital for staying competitive in this fast-paced world. And according to a survey, this prediction came to fruition because “35 – 50% of sales are won by the vendor that responds first.”
The bottom line is that all three of these predictions made in early 2015 came true. And when you look at the overarching theme, you’ll notice that CPQ solutions and other sales enablement technologies are becoming more and more essential to sales. At the same time, it’s not a replacement for good old-fashioned customer engagement. Only by utilizing the right tools while maintaining a nice balance of technology and personal attention will you succeed in giving sales reps the best chance to win more deals.