The world of selling is changing at breakneck speed, and sales leaders need to adapt quickly or risk becoming obsolete. Here are the four major trends impacting sales organizations today:
1. Social media. A recent study by the Aberdeen Group shows that 79 percent of salespeople who incorporate social media into their sales process make quota, compared to the industry average of 43 percent. A HubSpot survey finds that companies using Twitter get two times more leads than companies that don’t. Research by InboxQ shows that 64 percent of customers are more likely to purchase from a business that answers their questions on Twitter.
To stay ahead of the curve, it may be a good idea to create a new strategy that includes “social listening” and the creation of engaging content. If your company doesn’t have a LinkedIn group, it’s time to start one. Every salesperson should have a LinkedIn profile that enhances your company’s brand. Teach your salespeople how to use such tools as HootSuite to track clients on Twitter and share content with customers and prospects.
2. Mobile. A Gartner survey predicts that by 2015, tablets will outsell PCs by 72 percent. Last month, laptop shipments realized their biggest monthly decline in years. More and more applications are now available on mobile devices, such as CRM; configure, price, quote tools; sales intelligence; compensation management; social media; and online collaboration and presentation tools. The most successful companies have equipped their sales teams with smartphones and tablets that are connected to the company’s sales-enablement content. Customers are impressed when salespeople can answer their questions by tapping a mobile-device screen and playing a quick customer testimonial on video or configuring a complex product on an iPad.
3. Cloud computing. More and more companies access Cloud-based apps through a browser while the data are stored on servers in a remote location. The simplest example is Google Docs. You have access from any browser to documents that you’d otherwise have to store on your laptop. Software-as-a-service is another example, such as Microsoft Dynamics. Cloud computing makes server-based computing nearly obsolete.
4. Big data. The recent bombing in Boston has shown how fast the FBI can analyze massive amounts of information gleaned from photographs and videos to track down suspects. The police crowd-sourced the investigation and located the suspects in record speed. From the dawn of civilization to 2003, five exabytes of data were created. By 2010, the same amount was created in only two days. As of January of this year, the world is creating five exabytes of information every 10 minutes.
Since companies have rapidly growing amounts of data that are often stored in multiple systems, conventional data analysis is no longer sufficient to optimize insight. New tools on the market allow companies to organize, analyze, and monetize data quickly. While conventional analytics explained the past, predictive analytics can predict future sales opportunities. According to Frost and Sullivan, 49 percent of companies are not using predictive analytics. This is the time to cash in on big-data tools to improve revenue.