Usually it’s difficult to tell who’s going to win a game after just one quarter, but if your sales and marketing teams are already starting to feel like the Cleveland Browns, you may want to huddle up and add the following sales trends to your playbook.
Let product demos, case studies, and reviews do the talking
More and more buyers are making their purchase decisions without involving a sales rep. Instead, they consult existing web content about products to guide their choices. According to a Walker Sands Communications study, approximately 65 percent of marketers are “at least halfway” to making a decision before they get in touch with sales.
So, how do you make sure that buyers get in touch with you? Give them what they’re looking for.
“The most influential content includes product demos (52 percent), case studies (47 percent), and online reviews (43 percent),” Walker Sands revealed.
Product demos are persuasive because “humans are visual creatures,” as Forbes reported a few years ago. In fact, “65 percent of us are visual learners.”
That percentage should sound familiar. If it doesn’t, see above.
Case studies are important because they show how your product or service resolved a customer’s problem. Thus, they demonstrate your expertise while highlighting whatever features of your product or service you want to emphasize.
You can also ask loyal customers to write reviews since more and more people are trusting the likes of Amazon, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google for advice on what to buy. Just don’t offer anything in return for those reviews, whether they’re on a review site or your own website.
“Reviews are most valuable when they are honest and unbiased,” says Google. “If you own or work at a place, please don’t review your own business or employer. Don’t offer or accept money, products, or services to write reviews for a business or to write negative reviews about a competitor. If you’re a business owner, don’t set up review stations or kiosks at your place of business just to ask for reviews written at your place of business.”
Since quid pro quo is out of the question, you may be wondering how to get customers to provide feedback. First, give them a place to do so. Dedicate a page of your website to comments and then link to that page from every other page. Second, promote the page via signage and add a call to action to email newsletters and receipts. Third, ask! If you need motivation, remember that reviews on high-authority sites can help your SEO rankings. You may not get many reviews, but quality is better than quantity. When you receive great feedback, thank reviewers publicly to show your appreciation.
Repurpose old content to make it interactive
Not only are buyers increasingly relying on content, they’ve also changed their expectations about how that content should be presented. We’ve already extolled the virtues of telling a great business story, but the Internet has shortened our attention span. Customers want to be entertained and engaged while they’re being educated. Consequently, we’ve seen the demand for interactive work, such as infographics and motion graphics, skyrocket over the past year.
Demand Metric has affirmed that interactive content has the power to double your conversion rates. It’s also a precise way to tell where a customer is in the buying funnel, according to the Harvard Business Review.
Think of interactive white papers, infographics, and videos as a choose-your-own-adventure story. As your potential customer reads or watches your content, he or she is prompted to answer questions via a quiz, survey, poll, or calculator. The person’s answers determine where he or she is directed next. The answers are also sent to your CRM, so you can tailor content to that person in the future.
Perhaps best of all, you can recycle old content by pairing bite-sized snippets with questions and other interactive features.
Cater to Millennials
Brace yourself: Millennials are coming. If you don’t get that Game of Thrones reference, you’re already behind.
Millennials account for a growing percentage of the people you’re selling to. According to the previously mentioned Walker Sands study, 55 percent of Millennials surveyed had led a buying decision in the last year. And if that doesn’t coax you to retarget your content, “reports on Millennial annual purchasing power widely range between $125 billion and $890 billion,” as stated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation in its Millennial Generation Research Review. “A more consistent estimate is $200 billion of direct purchasing power and $500 billion of indirect spending, largely due to the influence on the spending of their mostly baby boomer parents.”
Since 80 percent of Millennials sleep next to their phones, and three-quarters of them are on a social network, where they spend an average of 1.8 hours per day, it goes without saying that you need to get comfortable using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and other platforms. But whatever you do, don’t make them angry.
“Once Millennials lose faith in a brand, it’s nearly impossible to win them back,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation said. “Positive relationships are critical.”
On the upside, if Millennials like your product or service, 86 percent of them are willing to write a glowing review.
Pay more attention to the mobile world
What’s your main computer? It isn’t your laptop, it’s your smartphone. The same holds true for your customers. Percolate’s chart shows adults surveyed use their smartphones more than anything else.
In fact, as of May 2015, “Mobile traffic exceeded the amount of desktop traffic for the first time,” according to business.com. “This trend is only expected to continue as more and more people get rid of their desktop computers in favor of tablets and smartphones. The algorithm update that Google rolled out this year that penalizes sites that aren’t optimized for mobile will only cause this trend to increase.”
So start looking at sales through the prism of the mobile world. Mobile apps make you available to customers everywhere at any time. They also let you forecast sales or manage leads on the go. A Salesforce study found that 60 percent of the best-performing sales teams either use mobile sales apps already, or they plan to within the next two years. Our advice? Hop on board. This is the future.
Study and share the sales trends you observe in your own analytics
What’s another common thread among successful sales teams? They’ve invested heavily in data analytics. In fact, Salesforce found that the best teams are 4.6 times more likely to say that their analytics abilities are “very good” or “outstanding.” Consequently, Salesforce is expecting a 74 percent jump in analytics usage in the next year and a half.
By no means should this come as a surprise. Analytics help remove the guesswork behind decisions and give you a benchmark for how you’re doing. Analytics have already taken over marketing. Expect them to take over sales, too.
“I believe that in 2016, you should focus on making sure that all your departments are speaking the same language and looking at the same data,” said Daniel Waisberg, Analytics Advocate at Google and founder and editor of Online Behavior. “This can be achieved through deep integrations between all your tools into a centralized data analysis platform.”
If you can get your sales and marketing teams to implement these sales trends, you’ll score major points with potential customers.
If you’re looking to develop interactive content or mobile apps to help your sales team stay on trend, contact the award-winning designers at Propoint.