The world of sales is constantly changing. The start of a new year seems a good time to look at some of the topics that will be impacting your landscape. What does the next twelve months look like for you?
We’ve looked at a range of predictions from the web – as you can imagine, there’s no shortage – and compiled a list of trends that crop up again and again.
1. An increased focus on training and development
This is a trend picked up by Hubspot, who anticipate that your ever-changing role will see a focus on training and development to meet the new challenges you face.
Forbes also predicts that investment in training and career development will increase, noting that ‘The field of sales is approaching new frontiers right now’ and that in order to succeed, teams need to be equipped with ‘the best tools available’ and trained on ‘how to use those tools effectively’.
Sales Hacker majors on the need for business developers to take responsibility for their own future success, claiming that personal branding and career development will be central to your ability to create your own opportunities.
2. Account-based selling is having a resurgence
Account-based selling – focusing on companies you are targeting rather than individual leads – is another trend identified by several analysts.
Data is the key to this, with automated data collection enabling companies to build very detailed profiles of their prospects.
Sales intelligence provider Vainu agrees, claiming that ‘in 2018, it's time for account-based sales to grab the spotlight’.
Content is key to this approach.
Forbes believes your new data-driven insight means ‘you’ll be able to re-prospect old accounts and reach out to them with even more personalized interaction’.
Vainu predicts that ‘in 2018, salespeople will start approaching these "most wanted" accounts in creative ways...more scalable content creation processes allow salespeople to target new accounts with value-added content from day one’.
Sales Hacker agrees with this need for value-add, saying that ‘the traditional funnel has been flipped inversely to focus on quality and personalization rather than casting a wide net’.
3. Video is growing in importance
Hubspot, Vainu and Forbes all identify video as an increasingly important channel for business development teams.
Hubspot believes that ‘video is a great way to stand out and frankly an easier way to articulate an offering or service’.
Customer appetite for video – according to Forbes, 43% of people want more video content from marketers – and the growing ease of embedding videos within emails or proposals leads Forbes to predict that ‘the popularity of video content will place videos at the heart of sales campaigns in 2018’.
4. GDPR will change the way you work
Forbes also predicts that the General Data Protection Regulations will ‘cause a shift in sales outreach’ over the coming year. This is something we’ve flagged before, asking whether GDPR will increase your use of social media.
Sales Hacker notes that the regulation will make outbound selling ‘tougher’ and the consensus is that the new restrictions will change the way your team makes contact with prospects.
The need for proactive opt-in makes it more important than ever that outreach via social media or any other channel really engages your readers – you have to produce content that they actively want to read.
5. You will harness automation to up your game
Automation is another trend making a lot of lists this January. It’s not a new prediction either – we included it among our 5 sales trends you need to know for 2017 at the start of last year.
Forbes believes that ‘AI and automation are making sales teams more effective and efficient’. Hubspot takes a different view: the need to balance automation efficiencies with personalised selling will be key.
For you, automation might mean automating your communications – for example, scheduling emails via tools like Hubspot or Eloqua or social media via Buffer – or, if you work in a regulated industry, introducing automated elements to your Compliance approval process.
However you define it, automation will play a significant role in 2018. Although your chances of being replaced by a robot may be slim, the automated solutions that can improve your ROI are varied and evolving all the time.
Needless to say, there are dozens more predictions online – we’ve focused on just a few that appeared on a number of experts’ lists.
We’ll be back in twelve months to see how many came true!
In the meantime, if you want to respond to GDPR and the need for relevant content by increasing your social media presence, why not read our 10 best practices for compliant social media. It’s free, and full of time-saving hacks and tips for compelling posts that meet FCA requirements. Download your copy here.