Over the course of 2017, we saw a lot of trends. We saw new technologies launched, big company mergers and acquisitions, a greater presence of personal branding through social media, and new terms like Account-Based Sales and Account-Based Marketing become our everyday lingo.
And there is, even more, to watch for in 2018.
Sales is a changing landscape. And if salespeople do not evolve as well, they will become endangered and lose to the competition. Kind of like Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.
So what exactly is a trend and which ones should you be keeping an eye out for in 2018?
Trends and trending are words we see when a hot topic takes over our social media news feeds, thanks to the hashtag (#2018SalesTrends). But really a trend, according to the dictionary, is a pattern of gradual change in a process, or a general tendency of a series of data points to move in a certain direction over time.
Generally, we see an emerging trend and we are skeptical. We even think that there is no way will it become the norm or mainstream. Just think about Uber, Airbnb, and Snapchat. Some of the newest, biggest, and most “disruptive” solutions out there were once seen as a “fad” and are now the social norm.
When does a trend become mainstream?
The law of diffusion of innovation tells us that if you want mass-market success or acceptance, you cannot have it until you achieve the tipping point between 15 and 18 percent market penetration. Simon Sinek spoke of the law of diffusion of innovation in one of his most popular Ted Talks to date, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.”
Trends are important to watch and we typically see a trend launch through early adopters and risk takers before accepting it for ourselves.
Here are some 2018 sales trends to watch for, and even implement into your own strategy if you want to stay ahead of the pack.
If you haven’t already noticed, video has continued to grow in popularity and won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
Here are a few stats about video marketing that WordStream put together:
- YouTube has over a billion users
- More than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube each day
- 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week
- Over half of video content is viewed on mobile
- Over 500 million people are watching video on Facebook every day
- 90% of Twitter video views happen on a mobile device
- Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined
- Video drives a 157% increase in organic traffic from SERPs
- 51% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI
You might have also noticed, that LinkedIn launched the ability to record and post videos directly to your LinkedIn newsfeed.
No longer is video marketing for the big and powerful brands. We will now continue to see more personalized videos be produced by people simply recording themselves from their iPhones.
Now more than ever, it’s a fight to win over a prospect’s time so we will continue to see video prospecting on the rise. Video prospecting gives salespeople the ability to stand out in a sea of content and cold emails. It will require more time to create, but video will be more personalized with a higher ROI rate.
AI and Sales
- How does Netflix know what recommendations to make?
- How does Amazon know what I want to buy?
- How come Facebook keeps showing me puppy videos?
Artificial Intelligence is the reason, and it will continue to penetrate the B2C and B2B sales marketplace.
We can confidently say that Artificial Intelligence is here to stay, but not here to replace. AI is here to support sales and eliminate monotonous tasks.
We have more data than we have ever had before. Sales technology and automation have certainly changed the way sales reps prospect, track, manage, and close deals, but that doesn’t mean the robots are eliminating the need for real live human sales professionals.
What AI does mean is that when implemented and used correctly, sales professionals can optimize their efficiency with the ability to focus more on selling than on administrative tasks.
MIT Sloan Management Review published a study revealing that 76% of early adopters are targeting higher sales growth with machine learning.
Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are enabling sales professionals to be proactive versus reactive. With more insight, sales professionals can optimize every stage of the funnel. We now have more knowledge around our buyer’s “intent” before even speaking with them.
Artificial Intelligence and automation cannot be a sales professional’s only tool. Remember, AI is only helpful if it is moving you to hit your objectives and improving sales productivity. The sales tool is only as good as the sales rep.
In 2018 we should continue to see a balance of both personalized selling and automation.
Over the last few years, we have heard the buzzwords Account-Based Sales and Account-Based Marketing, but Account-Based Revenue really defines this targeted movement.
Account-Based Revenue bridges the marketing and sales gap that is widely discussed. This term aligns both departments to ultimately drive more revenue.
I first heard this term coined by the brilliant Trish Bertuzzi of The Bridge Group. Account-Based Revenue is to execute a strategic go-to-market approach that personalizes marketing, sales, and customer success efforts to land and expand named accounts.
Rather than focusing purely on a large pipeline, sales professionals can use personalization to target high-value accounts.
Customers expect more from sales and marketing. Now more than ever we have the ability to access and understand what buyers want and expect from us. Decision-makers need relevant and real-time information to help make purchasing decisions.
This isn’t for only new prospects, Account-Based Revenue is a strategy that should be executed with past and current accounts to grow and sustain customer retention.
Once again, personalization will win over generic mass email campaigns.
LinkedIn and One-Line Text-Based Posts
Have you noticed
a lot of those one-line
No matter how you feel about them, you can count on seeing more of them in 2018.
Even though videos and images are major driving forces in capturing attention, text-based LinkedIn posts are new effective traffic drivers for the platform.
It’s important to note, that these posts may rank higher due to the nature that they don’t have any external links, keeping users on LinkedIn. Therefore, LinkedIn’s algorithm may rank them higher on the newsfeed than posts with external links in them.
Salespeople are working harder than ever to win over a potential customer’s time. And we know that people’s time is pulled in a million directions and we can’t expect to capture it without providing excellent content and value.
Why are one-line posts a new trend?
They are engaging
They are genuine
They are easy to read
They are practical
They are relatable (a personal problem, question, or success)
They follow a storyline format
They ask for feedback
When done correctly, these posts won’t only boost your LinkedIn visibility, it should also boost your other web channels too.
I also recommend adding links in the comment sections of your text-only posts. And yes, it’s okay to like and share your own posts.
See how one of these posts generated 1.8 million views.
Hiring and Retaining Top Sales Talent
Recruiting and retaining top sales talent continues to be a top priority and challenge for companies. With unemployment at an all-time low of 4.1%, it’s become a job seeker’s market. Sales professionals have more options to selectively and passively search for their next opportunity.
This means that companies must work hard to attract, recruit, interview, hire, and retain top sales performers.
According to LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Report, companies are trying to optimize their hiring strategy to reduce candidate attrition due to a lengthy sourcing and interview screening process.
A recent study by Indeed found that 61% of recruiters expect hiring will continue to increase into 2018. About 56% of employers are hiring to support business growth.
Companies should look to increase their applicant conversion rate.
- How many resumes do you screen?
- How many hours are you searching?
- How many candidates make it to the interview stage?
- How many steps are in the interview process?
- How many offers do you extend to acceptance?
No more debate around it, millennials are here. According to Pew Research, millennials have surpassed the Gen Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. More than 2.4 billion people in the world are under the age of 30. They will soon make up over a third of the workforce.
Yes, there may be more discussion on recruiting and coaching millennials, but the fact remains that millennials have become vital members of the workforce. This wave of sales talent is already moving into senior leadership roles. This generation values purpose, technology, work-life balance, learning, and growth. Make sure your talent management initiatives align with millennials.
Millennials bring a lot to the table as technology and the way consumers absorb information has changed.
Millennials have also become one of the largest buying audiences. They make up 21% of consumer discretionary purchases (over $1 trillion in direct buying power). They play a major role in the economy’s growth.
So stop the debate. Millennials are here and you need to harness their knowledge and skill. You also need to understand how to market to them.
Sales Development is the front line of the sales force, and the role has evolved from being strictly measured by call and email volume, to become a more strategic and complex sales approach.
In its early days, Sales Development was viewed as the first step in a sales career. It was about entering leads and building pipeline. SDRs were typically performing tedious and monotonous tasks, passing leads to the inside sales team, until finally they were promoted to a selling/closing role themselves.
The Sales Development role has evolved.
Today with new technologies, streamlined efficiencies, and more informed buyers, more is expected from SDR teams. As a result, there has been a higher demand for qualified and experienced Sales Development Reps who are consultative in nature, making the role appear less “entry-level.”
Expect to see a greater emphasis on sales development training and implementing technology past the automation stage. This role may merge with the traditional full sales cycle role.
For transactional sales, we may see a decrease in SDRs and a rise in chatbots, messaging apps, and Artificial Intelligence.
Online reviews will continue to play a role in the decision-making process of the buying cycle. Reviews influence buying decisions. Just as referrals are one of the highest-ranking leads for sales, online reviews are a way to magnify your customer satisfaction ratings on a national/global level.
Before making a purchasing decision, almost all buyers are doing their research to make sure the company, product, and service fulfill their needs. Here are a few statistics around online reviews from RevLocal:
- 92% of consumers read online reviews when looking for a local business
- 42% of consumers won’t use a business with less than a three-star rating
- 68% of consumers will form an opinion about your local business after reading just 1-6 online reviews
For businesses, it’s important to note that online reviews affect 13% of your search ranking (how you appear in online searches).
Potential customers are researching products, services, and companies on Facebook and Google as well as growing review sites like Capterra and G2Crowd. Google enables customers to rate and review businesses, becoming a growing review site (63.6% of consumers check Google before visiting a business.)
It all comes down to trust and transparency. It’s become a buyer’s-centric market and buyers have more choices than ever, so how will your company stand out?
What are some other trends you are following?
Chelsey Canavan Brief Bio:
Chelsey Canavan is the Director of Marketing at Treeline, Inc., a national sales recruiting firm and #1 Best Place to Work. Chelsey runs the marketing department, creating content to help sales professionals land their next sales job, and to help hiring managers find their next top performer.