Tis the season for top 10 lists, bold predictions and year-in-reviews. Taking a slightly different approach, here’s a rundown of the year’s most interesting B2B sales trends that need to keep up the momentum in 2018.
Sales Reps Walking the Attachments Walk
For years, sales reps have agreed that their prospects and customers don’t love email attachments. Yet they have persisted to send them — over and over and over and over again. Yet this year, we’ve talked to a ton of reps that have finally started to dial it down when it comes to attaching two Word docs, an 8MB PDF, and some other file that no one except Carl in IT can open. Instead, reps are delivering their content through web-based experiences like microsites, portals and workspaces even more personalized. This is a step in the right direction. Email inboxes everywhere appreciate it.
The Death of Cheap Tricks
We know there’s an “I Want You to Want Me” joke in there somewhere, we’re just not that clever. Weak attempt at humor aside, we anecdotally learned this year that cheap sales tricks like area code routing do more harm than good. What good is getting your foot in the door with someone when that first step was basically a lie? You spoofed my area code to get me to pick up the phone? Bye. Ultimately, customers are to thank for squashing hoodwink tactics like these. And for that, we thank you.
Marketing’s been riding the personalization train for some time, but it’s finally starting to permeate into sales. This is really a core tenant to account-based selling. We’re seeing sales teams create personalized ad campaigns that show only to the specific contacts at the accounts they’re after. This approach works for stalled as well as active accounts. It also can help you tighten up your PPC budget.
The Robots are Coming… To Make Reps Better
Automation and artificial intelligence have earned a ton of buzz this year, but far too often the coverage has been framed in a “to take your job” context. This is only partially true. (In reality, technological innovation usually creates new jobs. They’re just different. Think auto mechanics existed in the horse and buggy days?) As it relates to B2B sales, we’re hearing that buyers value a blend of automated engagement and personal touch. Reps need to recognize this and continue to strike a balance with their customers. Create personalized digital buying experiences here; meet for breakfast there. Whatever the engagement method, truly understanding the customer’s problem and consistently delivering value must be the priorities.
Live Web Chat is a Must
You know those friendly chat widgets you’re seeing on just about every site that’s selling something? That’s live web chat. Sometimes there’s a bot on the other end, sometimes it’s a real person, but the bottom line is that the immediacy of conversations is far more effective than forms at engaging (and closing) leads. The good folks at Drift have a deeper dive into this trend, specifically the CQL, or Conversation Qualified Lead.
Millennials Earn Some Respect
In virtually every industry, millennials have had to fight preconceived notions. They’re entitled. They’re lazy. They’re on their cellular smartphones face-snapping all the time. They don’t know how to close a deal. But hey! They’re young so they can do our social media! All of these assumptions are finally starting to fade as millennials — who by the way, hate being called millennials — are proving their top-line worth. They’re digital natives, literally born into the internet, and that’s proving valuable to sales organizations that have found themselves on the backside of the digital wave. Now it’s time for them to make moves into sales leadership roles. Companies that facilitate that sort of career pathing will have a leg up.
As they say on cable news when they’re up against a break, we’ll leave it there. Happy holidays.
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