Just as the green leaves of summer begin to turn color and fall from the trees, predictors of the coming year’s trends offer their insights as to how the most successful, leading companies will achieve their sales objectives in the months ahead. Last year, Forbes cited important trends in business for 2017. As we quickly approach the end of 2017, we wanted to see how those trend predictions materialized this year.
Reality: Subject Matter Experts Become the New Rainmakers
Once upon a time there were three sales approaches. The order taker, who called to fill a customer’s needs, the pitchman who focused efforts on remunerating product or service features and benefits to bag and ring-up the sale and the consultative sales person, the subject matter expert (SME), who approached the sale by utilizing advanced business experience and knowledge to close a deal. Today executive B2B leadership is looking for folks that can provide experience and valuable insights to move their businesses forward. While the days of sales representatives calling on the C-Level to get a meeting still has its venues, the future of sales lies with the SME Rainmakers.
In Process: Crowdfunding Validates New Products
The prediction that crowdfunding would replace venture capitalist (VC) in 2017, while gaining on more traditional sources of financing, appears to be encountering the learning curve. Indiegogo CEO, David Mandelbrot says, “We’ve very focused on educating both entrepreneurs and backers of those campaigns. It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s also very new.” Early analysis of crowd funding indicates a growing popularity among real estate investors and those entrepreneurs seeking to secure asset-backed loans from accredited investors and for supplementary capital for ventures that have been successful in raising funds from traditional VCs. While crowdfunding has become popular with start-up entrepreneurs, it doesn’t necessarily validate the success of a new product.
Reality: Sales & Content Marketing Fully Integrated
“More than just a buzzword, content marketing has become one of the most powerful tools for attracting targeted customers, building loyalty, and driving profitability,” says Veronica Stoddart, the principal of VS Content Strategies. “If done right and properly integrated within a brand, content marketing will benefit a cross-section of departments, including marketing, sales, public relations, and even customer relations.” The predictor’s crystal ball clearly scored on this one. The emergence of this digital economy, content has become a clear driver in the sales process.
Reality: Video Becomes Essential
The combined top three social media networks, Snapchat, Facebook and YouTube are producing 22 billion video views every day. Marketers can no longer ignore video. Video is becoming the method in which to distribute content that will resonate with a broad base of audiences.
In Process: New Collaboration Rethinking Email
Despite all the new emerging digital marketing tools, email remains a persistent survivor. While popular tools like Slack are becoming more common in the workplace, email remains to be an important communication tool.
Reality: Brick and Mortar Loses Retail Stores
We have experienced major retailers closing stores and retooling location strategy in response to consumers’ increase use of online sellers. Those retail companies that understand the importance of customer experience will continue to excel. Brick and mortar retailers must find ways to be relevant to its customers and continue to evolve the in-store experience.
Reality: Subject Matter Experts Get Sales Support
With the push for content, thought leadership, and marketing tools, organizations are embracing a new way to structure sales and marketing departments. Silos have existed between the two. In today’s fast-paced digital environment, integration is critical. Subject matter experts bring knowledge and expertise that can inform sales opportunities.
In Process: Narrow Segments Capture Attention
Understanding your customer segment is critical in communicating a marketing/sales message. However, spreading the message too thin isn’t being effective. “It’s less about narrowing the focus of segments but rather focusing on those segments that are actively making purchase decisions. The overall effectiveness of this strategy will improve, says Julie Gareleck, Founder and CEO Junction Creative Solutions.”
In Process: Recurring Revenue
Companies will continue to shift from single, up-front payments for products to recurring revenue for a service. In B2B and B2C, the goal is to engage a customer on a regular basis, with an ongoing need for goods or services.
Gareleck comments, “This is always going to be a conversation about value. I don’t see the entire marketplace moving to retainer relationships as a portion of businesses are still looking for the cheapest option available or the most cost effective.”
In Process: Millennials Groomed for Leadership
Ian Altman, a B2B Integrity-based sales and growth expert predicted, “Just like past generations, millennials will emerge as the next set of managers and executives. Top performing companies will work to magnify their strengths and build systems to compensate for their perceived deficiencies.”
Organizations often lack the middle-management layer that trained young leadership to rise and grow within the organization. While Millennials are going to become 50% of the work-force in the next few years, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are prepared for leadership roles.
It’s clear that there is accuracy with trends and predictions. Some of these areas are evolving while others have reached mass adoption. It will be interested to see what forecasters predict for 2018!