2016 has been here for a while already. Similarly to fashion fans, who have been studying the new trends for the upcoming year already at the end of 2015, many sales reps and business people are eager to get the answer on what are the top sales trends for the year that’s just started.

However, there is a difference here. You can choose to totally ignore all fashion trends, and it can sometimes serve the good purpose by helping you stand out of the crowd and express your personality. If you do the same for your business and go on as you are irrespective of all the tendencies on the market, you’re likely to be beaten by the severe competition and lost in the sea of other businesses alike.

Well, you’ve got the idea - sales trends is not a whim, it is a necessity for your company to keep growing. So, if you haven’t found out what are the freshest tendencies and have no idea in which direction to move on, take advantage from the guide we’ve put together.

More personalized customer experience

Instead of blindly offering all prospects the same value, businesses tend to segment their buyers according to their preferences, past actions, search queries, behavior on the website etc. Assisted by the innovative software that makes such analysis possible, it will be easier to lead a prospect down the funnel providing relevant information and incentives to complete the purchase or close the deal.

Social sales growth goes on

Social media is confidently taking one of the key places in the shopping quest for many avid shoppers. Merchants need to follow the tendency and provide their prospects with the possibility to purchase while using their favorite social networks, or provide the shopping experience of the social type. There is already a number of marketplaces and solutions that provide this possibility, and their versatility will surely increase further on.

Proactive sales

Online sales people are no longer expected to sit waiting for the customer to knock on their chat window asking for help. Thanks to multiple new apps offering pop up chat or form, they are now becoming somewhat similar to sales assistants in brick-and-mortar stores, who offer their help before they are called for. It’s important to make sure the pop ups aren’t too frequent and don’t annoy customers.

Software to automate sales

Today, more and more software and apps appear in accordance with the growing demand from businesses to streamline and automate the routine processes. This includes customizing CRM systems to maximally correspond to the business needs, using integration software to bring together different sales channels, comprehensive analytics and email marketing tools to instantly detect customers that might need extra spur and trigger the relevant message/action etc.

Selling - not only for sales

Keeping the strict division like “everyone has to do their own job” doesn’t work in sales anymore. Whether a web designer, an app developer, a marketer or a support tech - everyone should feel the responsibility for effective selling and do his/her job with this idea in mind. Perfect customer experience and service should be everyone’s priority, and concern not only the people in sales dep.

Marketing and selling bound together

Since customers are more oriented at self-education using the content (videos, presentations, webinars etc) marketers present to them, it is important that sales and marketing departments need to work side-by-side to detect the prospects needs and preferences and provide the corresponding information and experience. Marketers should be more aware of the importance of their contribution not only into customer acquisition, but also in nurturing their every step towards the closed deal.

Customer retention - a priority

In their trying to cut down the expenses and leverage the revenue more and more businesses become aware of the fact that gaining a new customer results in less profits than keeping the existing one happy. So, businesses are going to direct even more efforts to retaining and engaging the loyal customer, treating each new purchase/conversion not as the final stage of the funnel, but as the first step of the long-lasting relationship.

Sales rep - a guide among the data

In the last century, salespeople were the ones providing the most information about the product. Nowadays, things have changed. Customers are perfectly capable of finding the necessary data. Therefore, the role of the sales representative shifts towards “guiding” the prospect to help them find their way through the loads of info. They need to be able to find out the customer’s needs and expectations and point out the exact value for this very person rather than simply pour out all the details about the item they’re selling.

Sophisticated analytics

To drive more sales, analytics is now being used more extensively than ever. It has become the tool that allows not only measuring the impact of the efforts taken. Advanced analytics software and techniques allow getting a deep insight into each activity, integrate all sales channels to detect the most efficient ones and make objective data-based predictions for the future.

Extensive use of mobile

Businesses can no longer ignore the huge percentage of using mobile devices in the industry by their prospects. Therefore, it is now a must to provide a decent mobile experience for all types of prospects. It goes without saying that you definitely need to invest into a mobile-ready website or responsive design. It is also a great idea to have a mobile app created to get closer to consumers and use it as another sales channel.

Closing remarks

2016 looks a busy and promising year, that is shifting attention to data driven approaches and deeper understanding of prospects demands. By being able to follow the trends, you get a great chance to evolve and lead your business to flourishing and prosperity.

What tendency do you consider the most challenging? What’s your view on the trends above? Do you think we missed something important? Use the comments section below to share your thoughts on the topic, we’ll be happy to hear from you!

Among the multitude of your marketing efforts across different channels and in various direction, what works best? Which activities are ineffective and which should be improved or altered to bring better results? If you have difficulties answering these answers or cannot provide a viable ground for your response, you should start measuring the key performance indicators (KPIs), other than the traditional sales revenue or website conversion rate. This would be the first step to improvement. According to Peter Drucker, the management thinker, ’If you can't measure it, you can't improve it’. In other words, if you don’t know where you currently stand, you cannot plan your next moves.  Moreover, company executives and top management will love your reports in numbers showing clearly how successful your marketing efforts are.

1. Cost per acquisition

Since customers is what you strive for to generate more sales, and, consequently, revenue, you need to know how much you spend to gain a new prospect. This typically includes the amount of money paid to the staff, expenses for materials, software, fees for any other services involved etc. CPA can be calculated separately for inbound and outbound marketing in general, specific activities, or for each campaign you organize to estimate their effectiveness. This lets distribute the budgets for different marketing channels in correspondence to the received numbers.

2. Customer value

This is a very important marker that lets you find out how much revenue is received from a customer by using a simple formula: Customer value = Average sale per customer * Average number of purchases per customer each year * Average customer retention time (years, months, weeks etc). Having this number, you compare the cost per acquisition a new customer with the value received from selling to him/her. So, in case the difference is small or the price of gaining a new prospect is too high, it is an indication that more attention should be given to retaining the existing customers and keeping them happy.

3. Inbound marketing ROI

Return on investment is the most well-known, and one of the most important marketing KPIs. The idea behind measuring it is getting the proof that the results/revenue received is worth the money spent for marketing campaigns. Other than that, this metrics is indispensable for future planning by showing the effective activities and those that should be better left out.

4. Website traffic to lead ratio

This indicator is of special importance to the businesses where a website serves as the major business tool. In order to estimate how successful it is, tracking the number of unique visitors is not enough. You can be fooled by the growing popularity of your website yet leading to no susceptible financial changes. So, you’ve got to know how targeted the traffic is by tracking the number of visits that convert into leads. If the ratio is no less than 2-4%, then your content strategy is working to attract the potential customers instead of simply driving people to your website thanks to the viral content without any other perspectives. Moreover, make sure you are making the most of analyzing your website traffic by segmenting it by source - organic, direct, referral, social media etc to find out which of them brings most visitors and which - most conversions.

5. Landing page conversion rate

You take so many efforts to drive a potential customer down the funnel till they end up on your landing page, where just a couple of clicks separates them from purchasing (or completing the action you intend them to). Therefore, measuring how well fit for the purpose this page is should be one of the priorities. The conversion rate of under 10% will undoubtedly be a signal that the page doesn’t work as it should. The reasons can be different, and sometimes a trifle alteration in the design or CTA changes the situation drastically. But instead of implementing the changes blindly, use A/B testing, which will objectively show the better variant. Ideally, it should be a continuous process since “There’s no limit to perfection”.

6. Email Marketing Performance

If you’re working on email marketing as one of the means to convert leads into customers, measuring how successful it is.  However, there is a number of markers for each email campaign, the key ones being as follows: By comparing and analyzing these metrics you’ll be able to locate possible drawbacks in your email campaigns and work on their improvement.

7. Social Media Engagement

Your boss considers your SMM efforts a total waste of time? Then, you’ll definitely benefit from tracking this KPI. Basically, it shows the following: Apart from (possibly) more regard from executives, this metrics can help you single out the social media channels with the greatest potential in your niche. So you’ll be able to concentrate on them instead of spending many hours for all popular networks.

8. Mobile traffic and conversions

No need to tell you that mobiles are more and more excessively used to access Internet. But their use for different spheres differs - the biggest part of some online stores visitors are using portable devices, while certain B2B business websites visitors are using mostly PCs. If you don’t know what’s the situation in your company, and don’t want to lose the opportunity, make sure you track the following: These numbers will be a good ground to make the decision whether it is cost-effective to invest into making your website mobile-optimized or refining your mobile presence.

Summing up

The beginning of the new year is high time to start your movement towards improvement, and learning what’s your current standing is the first and probably the most crucial step. So, power up with the objective numbers, work on your goals for the year ahead (if you haven’t done so yet), and become awfully successful!
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