As the business environment changes at a rapid pace, sales trends follow. Among the most prevalent trends affecting small-business owners are the use of analytics and big data, automation sales systems, and social selling.
Increasingly, businesses are turning to third-party vendors to handle their sales from one end to another. These outside vendors are sales specialists, and they can be an enormous asset to companies that prefer to keep their inside staff lean and focused on product development. When you outsource your sales process, you can team up with vendors that understand how to use big data to target different market segments with conversion as a goal.
Use of Social Platforms
Social selling depends on your organization digging deep to understand who your customers truly are. Seeing what buyers, influencers, and other customers think via their posts on social media platforms allows you to focus your marketing to target specific niche audiences and increase customer engagement. Social media also provides a sales platform for small companies that don’t have the resources they need to run their own ecommerce platforms, with the ability to put ads on Facebook and Instagram fueling rapid marketing outreach.
Reliance on Expert Advice
In today’s online economy, buyers who know what they want head straight to the appropriate website and buy it. If they don’t know exactly what they’re looking for, however, they seek expert guidance. Small businesses that establish themselves as experts in a niche market can offer that kind of guidance, meeting customer needs and driving both website traffic and sales. Many large companies are focusing on creating subject-matter experts to play in the same sandbox where small businesses have already established themselves. Creating unique content for your website is the key to taking advantage of this sales trend.
Amazon Prime has trained consumers to expect shipping at speeds that sometimes seem impossible. Fully 80 percent of shoppers want same-day shipping, while some customers want delivery measured in hours rather than days. Small-business sales forces may have to outsource delivery to meet this new customer demand.
Tighter Collaboration With the Marketing Department
Sales and marketing often walk hand in hand, but sometimes strict lines — even battle lines — are drawn between them. If you can tightly link your sales and marketing teams so they share knowledge about customer demographics and desired shopping experience, you could see an explosion in sales. Typically both sides generate lots of data, but only the marketing department makes use of all the insight that comes from analytics and big data. Amp up your performance by having sales and marketing integrate their use of data, and encourage collaboration rather than competition to deliver growth, sales, and profit.
The Rise of Automation
Automation allows heightened levels of follow-up in sales and marketing. Salespeople are still a crucial element of the sales process, but new advances in artificial intelligence can help fill in the gaps. For example, some businesses using artificial intelligence in lead generation have achieved a 100 percent touch rate.
As a small-business owner, staying abreast of sales trends helps you understand what your competitors are up to and prepares you to meet your customers’ expectations.