Disrupted logistics, new acquisitions and bankruptcies, fresh regulations and sanctions – these are just a few flashbacks from the last years. Your sales processes have probably been affected as well, and you’ve been looking to adopt new ways of doing things.
So, how should you be selling in 2022 and beyond? Should you adopt some smart AI tech to help you with decision-making? Or maybe automate the majority of your processes and halve the team?
Let’s revise the hottest trends in sales and pinpoint the areas where you could use fresh ideas.
Top 6 Sales Industry Trends to Adopt
From generating leads to closing deals, salespeople face a variety of challenges. Both marketers and salespeople are struggling with quality leads. As if that wasn’t enough, sales processes have been massively shaken by the pandemic. Let’s see how these fresh sales trends may help you get back on track or even boost your performance.
Hard selling is no longer in vogue. Lured into buying a useless product, consumers are highly unlikely to buy from the same company again. Who likes to be manipulated?
Studies show that 87% of high-growth companies favor a value-based approach. Selling the product’s value is now more popular than pitching the product alone. This is the essence of value-based selling.
What does it take to implement this strategy into your sales process? Here are several to-dos:
- Know your client. Contacting clients while being completely unaware of who they are is like trying to find your way in a dark room with your eyes closed. First, gather all the information you can about your prospects. Ideally, this data should be well-structured and easily accessible. It will let you build prospect profiles more easily. Another benefit is that you can engage clients without being intrusive if you have all the facts and figures at your fingertips.
- Establish a consistent selling process. Your product value won’t matter if your lead can’t be properly guided through the sales process. A clear and repeatable procedure ensures that customers receive the same level of service regardless of who they speak to. Also, once all the pieces are in place, it’s much easier to follow up with the right prospect at the right time, drop dead leads timely, and keep your sales cycle short.
- Educate, not sell. One of the best ways to add value to your business is to educate your customers. Following this strategy, you will demonstrate your industry knowledge, impress your audience with new insights, and use this opportunity to promote your products.
Ultimately, buyers will care more about benefits than price. Your sales team, in turn, will bring high-margin customers into the sales pipeline.
Social selling and account-based marketing
You need a point of contact to move your leads through the sales process. In fact, 65% of salespeople rely on social selling to fill their pipeline. This is another sales trend where salespeople leverage social networks to interact and connect with potential customers.
Many companies organize their sales and marketing activities via social networks like LinkedIn. This is the place to be if you seek to establish online partnerships with retail giants. Almost everything you need to know about your prospects is there: industry, company size, e-commerce market share, acquisitions, strategic initiatives, and, most importantly, the pain points to be addressed.
Social selling often goes hand in hand with another sales trend—account-based marketing (ABM). It helped 83% of companies engage better with their B2B clients. ABM focuses on personalized campaigns to attract specific groups of buyers, known as accounts. That’s how you can implement this strategy through social networks:
- Import a list of relevant companies from LinkedIn and search for their employees by title
- Send personalized emails and white papers to your prospects
- Post content on your social media profile to showcase your expertise
- Comment on and repost your clients’ posts
Using social media for ABM will help you target those who truly need your product.
Although LinkedIn is quite an effective sales channel, you shouldn’t rely solely on it. Omnichannel purchases are 250% higher than single-channel ones.
Customers want to communicate with a company through a variety of channels, including phone, email, live chat, or chatbots, as well as via desktop and mobile devices. These touchpoints should never stand alone. The omnichannel approach ensures consistent interaction should a customer decide to switch between channels.
The omnichannel strategy benefits not only customers. With all data in one place, sales teams can better measure engagement across the channels. They will know when and where customers usually engage and which campaigns have delivered the most value in each case.
An omnichannel strategy requires a single source of truth, such as CRM, for seamless integration of all consumer touch points.
Sales can’t go without repetitive and time-consuming tasks, including prospect profile analysis, email newsletters, and contract management. And let’s face it: salespeople spend a whopping 64% of their time on activities other than selling, for instance, business meetings and paperwork.
What can you do to streamline the process without sacrificing quality? Sales automation solves these and many other problems.
Solid and up-to-date CRM
Your CRM system has to be able to support your omnichannel strategy and get the team together. The up-to-date system matches your industry, business model, sales force, and customers. Check whether the tool you’re using helps you with the following:
- Centralizing data across your sales channels. A CRM system should serve as a single database for all customer data. This guarantees instant access and easy data management.
- Segmenting your prospects. CRM groups contacts based on the information you’ve gathered about them over time. This way, you can nurture your leads individually and provide more value to each segment.
- Creating sales reports. Did you know that companies using CRMs have 42% higher sales forecast accuracy? CRM should let you create comprehensive reports on customer behavior trends and track your sales performance.
- Strengthening team collaboration. Reps must work together to maintain a brand image and meet their quotas. With just a few clicks, sales reps can reassign specific leads to each other. A CRM platform lets you handle all communication in one place, so your salespeople will rarely need to email other team members outside the system.
The message we’ve been trying to get across here is this: your CRM software has to cover all your repetitive tasks and let you focus on more important activities. It’s not? Then it’s high time to shop for something more solid.
Empowered business intelligence software will organize your data and lead to a higher level of personalization.
Lead interactions, whether by phone, email, or social networks, should be analyzed and segmented to avoid drowning in data. AI tools allow you to examine customer data automatically, establish patterns based on specific queries, and prioritize leads in a few clicks. With AI, you’ll never miss a fat deal again.
In the same way, AI can support your ABM campaigns. Depending on your customer’s position in the sales funnel and their behavior or order history, you can nurture your leads effectively yet effortlessly.
Contract lifecycle management
We’ve finally reached the end of the sales pipeline—negotiating and closing a deal. Don’t overlook this stage even if you’ve already acquired a customer.
The obstacles to signing contracts include poor visibility and security, protracted negotiations, and rigid contract management. All of these might cause a deal to fall through.
Implementing a robust contract lifecycle management system (CLM) can prove groundbreaking. These are some of the key benefits of contract management automation:
- Centralized access to documents. A CLM system provides a central repository to upload, store, and share contract documents with other employees.
- Creating contracts in minutes. It’s estimated that a simple, one-sheet contract drafting may take a few days, while more complex agreements may take even weeks or months. Contract automation software offers templates for different types of contracts, as well as a clause library to turn to when needed. It speeds up contract creation and negotiation.
- E-signature tools. A good CLM platform can integrate with various e-signature solutions, making it easy to submit contracts for e-signature and monitor their execution.
- Better visibility. Gartner reports that advanced contract analytics systems will cut manual contract review workloads in half by 2024. Automatically generated reports will keep teams informed about the contract’s status, including compliance, revenue generated, and overall process efficiency. No manual intervention is required.
CLM systems offer much more than this. You can also gel your team together, minimize contract disputes, and ensure that service delivery is satisfactory to both parties.
Sales team specialization and collaboration
Automation largely takes the burden of manual tasks off the salespeople’s shoulders, but some assignments remain on their to-do list.
A well-structured sales process relies on delegation. A strong team consists of many experienced reps, each in a different role. For example, a Business Development Rep focuses on outbound lead prospecting and generation. Meanwhile, a Sales Development Representative qualifies inbound leads before passing them on to their colleagues.
Sales are not limited to the sales team only. Marketing and legal departments must also be engaged to win the customer. A new trend of cross-department collaboration and mixed teams focuses on just that. Automation is crucial when talking about the synergy between departments. Automated systems make information sharing much more convenient. Transitions between workflow stages become faster and hassle-free, too.
CLM software contributes, in particular, to the collaboration between sales and legal teams. They can properly distribute responsibilities and close deals faster. Deal slippage steps out when automation steps in.
To wrap it up, automation plus smooth teamwork is your magic formula for a clear and consistent sales process.
And last but not least: creativity is essential in sales these days. Stepping aside from conventional sales techniques, sales teams can come up with original ideas that customers love.
The first thing to adopt here is a tighter collaboration between marketing and sales teams. Marketing can prepare sales enablement resources that dwell on the intel collected by sales. Next – try and find your own way of doing things. Check different strategies and find out what works best. To follow the creativity trend you have to actually not follow the trends.
Creativity can come in many shapes and forms. From unconventional messaging that is both relatable and captivating, to hyper-personalizing your communications, experimenting with videos (why not swap your lead gen forms to video questions?), gamifying the sales experience–and further.
But then a question comes up. How can sales think out of the box if their heads are full of tedious administrative tasks? To unleash the creative potential of your sales team, you need to distribute work properly and automate all routine activities. Creativity needs freedom.
Salespeople make decisive contributions to the company’s success. A salesforce matches the offering with relevant leads and converts them into long-term customers. A struggling sales team can easily undermine the efforts of other departments, such as marketing and legal.
To help you avoid this, we outlined hot sales industry trends to optimize any stage of your sales pipeline. A centralized CRM system will empower you to target your leads consistently. CLM software will become your best friend during negotiations. It’s so much easier to close large deals faster when all contracts are stored and managed in a single repository. Taken together, this will give you greater insight into your commitments.
But being aware of the trends isn’t enough. You have to apply them. Boost your sales with AI-powered CLM from AXDRAFT. Get a demo to find out how it reduces the sales and legal teams’ workload and inspires creativity.