Four Sales Trends Bringing Us Into 2013
During this time of year, we take a moment to reflect on what has transpired over the past twelve months, and try to look into our proverbial crystal balls to gain insights on what might happen in the next twelve. In this spirit, I’d like to highlight the top four trends that will carry us into 2013.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” ~Albert Einstein
The business of selling has undergone a series of drastic changes over the years. Anyone remember the rolodex? How about the fax machine? We live in an ever-changing environment and the ability to be aware of the effects of these changes and be nimble enough to not only not be blindsided by them, but optimize them is what sets apart the truly innovative and successful companies from the rest of the pack. How we address these top four trends will determine our level of success in 2013.
Content Marketing Will Continue to Rule
The Corporate Executive Board reports that 57% of a typical purchase decision is made before a customer ever engages with a vendor. That means they are researching solutions, reading reviews, analyzing white papers, and doing the majority of their due diligence before ever speaking to a sales rep. As CEB puts it, “Customers increasingly don’t need Sales’ help or expertise... We’ve hit a point where customer capability to buy things has outpaced our capability to sell things.”
This means pre-purchase marketing is becoming increasingly important for companies. Specifically, content marketing will continue to rule. The ability to push content out for buyers to locate and help educate is more critical than ever. And just as important (possibly even more) is how you align your sales team with your content marketing to ensure they are providing value during the purchase process, not just taking orders. In the information age, sales and marketing need to be more aligned than ever.
More Insight, Not Data
We’ve been hearing about “big data” for a while now. The numbers are astounding - during a recent Gartner presentation, they put things in context by stating how much information was consumed in the last minute; there were 204 million emails sent, 61,000 hours of music listened to on Pandora, 20 million photo views and 3 million uploads to Flickr, 100,000 tweets, 6 million view and 277,000 Facebook logins, and 2 million plus Google searches.
My head hurts just thinking about it.
But the question is now - what does sales do with all that information?
DestinationCRM.com puts it in perspective, “The average sales rep spends 24 percent of his time preparing for sales calls. Rather than feeling empowered by all this data, the rep is overwhelmed. Reps are struggling to find the information they need to close deals. CSO Insights found that 82 percent of sales reps are challenged by the amount of information available and the amount of time it takes to look through it all. The study found that reps were searching as many as 15 different data sources in the course of their research. The data deluge is real. The key to sales productivity is not delivering more data to sales reps. It is providing the insights that allow them to focus on their best opportunities.”
Check out our latest Infographic addressing these challenges, More Content, More Problems: The Struggles of a Sales Rep!
Finding solutions that provide insight and predictive analytics, not just data, is going to be a key factor for success in 2013.
Mobile Information Consumption
When I talk about mobile, I’m not talking about cool new games or apps for your phone or tablet (although I am addicted to Temple Run). When I talk about mobile, it's in the context of the plethora of information we are consuming each minute, and our shift to consume this information right on our phones and tablets.
How do your sellers get their information? Many Qvidian clients are making big investments in 2013 in mobilizing their sales teams - most commonly via tablets. According to the SMA, salespeople are adopting iPads on their own as fast as their firms are provisioning company-purchased ones. Whether you have a BYOD policy, or are making an investment yourself, finding tools that allow your sellers to effectively use their mobile devices in the field are critical for optimizing on that investment.
Effective mobile use is not just access to content. It's the ability to empower your sellers with the knowledge of what to do in that specific selling situation, and access to all the systems and tools they require to successfully complete their task, and move to the next step of the sales cycle. It's about aligning all resources at every step and ensuring your reps are able to keep up with the pace of business.
It seems like every morning I’m reading about a new merger or acquisition in the sales and marketing space. Oracle recently purchased Eloqua, a leading cloud-based marketing and "revenue performance management" software company, to be the core of its Marketing Cloud. Microsoft purchased Yammer midway through 2012 as a complementary product to their existing cloud social enterprise offerings such as Dynamics, Office 360, and Sharepoint.
It's an exciting time to be in the business, but how do these changes affect your sales strategies?
Sales leaders need to not lock themselves into solutions or platforms that might mean restricted options in the future. Integration across systems and platform-agnostic solutions will help sales teams evolve with the changing landscape of technology available.
As we look forward to 2013, the biggest challenge for sales and marketing leaders will be how to manage these various changes throughout the year without interrupting selling. As new technology is purchased, new channels acquired, and new goals are set for the year, sales still needs to make quota. Gartner’s #1 recommendation for organizations is, “Prepare for organizational disruptions - externally and internally generated.”
I wholeheartedly agree.
Be prepared for
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2013's curve balls
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