A new year is on the horizon.
As we bid adieu to 2017 and say bienvenue to 2018, now represents the perfect time to look forward and discuss the most likely sales trends for the forthcoming year. The world continues to change at an astounding pace each year thanks to the rate of technological and scientific development, and, as all sales professionals know, the sales industry is changing rapidly as a result.
It should come as no surprise that in order to remain on top, sales professionals will need to accept that the forces driving these seismic shifts in both society and business cannot be stopped. Instead, we must embrace what’s coming by predicting the impact of change and then adapting accordingly.
With that in mind, here are our three predicted sales trends of 2018.
The focus will shift to upskilling staff in communication
Okay, so this is more of a hope than an actual data-backed prediction. After all, an increase in CPD budgets and staff development is great for those who actually provide CPD and staff development! Even so, hear us out.
Your product or service, whatever it is, is simply a solution to a person’s problem. The issue that a lot of consumers and potential leads have with outbound sales techniques is that it feels like they’re being sold to. And, combined with the daily bombardment they receive in advertising and sales, this can leave a sour taste in the mouth.
As such, to be successful we need to move away from selling and instead move towards solving. How do we do this? By improving the way we communicate with our audience.
For example, the most powerful phrases a salesperson can use going forwards into 2018 are “how come” and “why”. These phrases are great at opening up a conversation and uncovering the hidden challenges and problems lying that motivate a consumer to seek a new solution. This applies just as much for SaaS start-ups as it does for traditional retail staff.
Front-line sales staff will be given more training
Leading on from our first prediction, we also believe that the sales staff on the front line – those tasked with prospecting – will be provided with additional training. It’s time to recognise that the first contact is an incredibly important touchpoint with a prospect (more on touchpoints below), and that businesses could be leaking potential sales by not ensuring that their front-line sales staff are as engaging and impressive as they possibly can be.
It’s not enough to provide front-liners with a script and some basic training, they need to be empowered to hold a conversation and deliver genuine value to a lead. And that can only come from the right level of training.
We’re pleased to see HubSpot deliver the same point – but it isn’t surprising, we have been working with inside sales teams around the world for many years to assist them in the development of their skillset.
Customer experience will become a core focus at board level
Data from Google Trends shows a gradual increase in interest in customer experience (CX) since 2011, but over the past two years interest has really skyrocketed. This comes as a result of the rise of digital technologies, which have permanently distorted the traditional business paradigms, giving way to a new, customer-centric philosophy instead.
Any director responsible for improving sales should be recognising that there are very few customer touchpoints which do not have an impact on sales in the digital age. Therefore, we expect to see much more of a focus on CX from the most senior levels of the company hierarchy over the next 12 months, rather than it being something the marketing team keep shouting about!
As always, the next year promises to be both an exciting and challenging one given all the upcoming changes. There is more we could have mentioned – for example, we didn’t highlight either sales automation or the effect of GDPR on traditional sales practices, but we plan to give each the attention and level of discussion they deserve in future articles.
We are certain that sales teams will find ways to adapt and thrive to the new trends and challenges that 2018 will bring, and we are excited to help support this process by providing industry leading sales, communication, and negotiation training courses. If you’re looking to improve, or even refresh, your skillset, then contact us today to discuss your requirements.