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15 Latest Sales Trends & Forecasts for 2020 You Should Know

Category: B2B News

You can’t travel to the future to find out what’s the next big thing in sales, go back in time, and pull the rug from under your competition. However, you can do the next best thing: take to heart the hottest sales trends today and use them to your advantage.

For example, nobody expected the impact of social media on selling. For one thing, it allowed buyers to take the initiative, sending businesses back to their drawing boards to address this entirely novel and humbling reality.

Below, we have gathered the latest on social selling, the empowering role of AI, the Gen Z, and omnichannel strategy, among others. You can use the insights provided here for your next strategy planning or simply get up to speed with the latest in your field.

key sales trends

Trends are both your ally and enemy. If you’re able to leverage them, you can address some of the biggest challenges in sales today, such as competing with low-cost providers (31%), consistency in executing meetings with prospects (26%) creating competitive differentiation, adding value to customer conversations (22%) and gaining appointments (14%).

Top selling challenges for 2019

Competing against low-cost providers

%

Creating competitive differentiation

%

Consistency in executing team meetings with prospects

%

Adding value to customer conversations

%

Maintaining profitability

%

Building trust

%

Gaining appointments

%

Source: Richardson

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Otherwise, these problems will only get worse and further clog up the pipeline.

Likewise, as tech is one of the major disruptors in any industry, sales included, having the right tools is critical. Yet, in one study, researchers found out that only 1 in 5 sales teams has the right tools.

It’s not a stretch to think that knowing the current trends in sales and investing in technologies like the leading CRM apps are key ingredients in increasing your team’s sales performance.

Below are some of the top sales trends you should watch out for in 2020 and leverage to boost the bottom-line.

1. Boost Sales with AI

In the last few decades, only 50% of sales reps meet their quotas. To help improve these numbers, artificial intelligence software can help with processes and other tasks.

With the use of AI, your team can gather valuable data on customers that you can later use to develop marketing strategies that can boost sales. It also helps with sales by offering suggestions to consumers, depending on their last transaction. Lastly, it projects trends in your industry that can help you plan ahead.

Right now, about 40% of sales tasks can be performed by AI. But it is expected to increase to 85% by 2020. Artificial intelligence adoption for the sales team is projected at 139% for the next three years. Other benefits include:

  1. Boosts productivity. AI can do menial tasks like note-taking and appointment setting, allowing your employees to focus more on nurturing leads.
  2. Lead scoring. When looking for leads, AI can help you determine which ones have a higher chance of conversion, saving you time and resources in the process.
  3. Better customer satisfaction. The recommendations and insights AI provide your business can lead to better customer satisfaction and lead nurturing success.

AI adoption rate

Boost sales with AI highlights:

  • Only 50% of sales reps meet their quota
  • 40% of sales tasks can be performed by AI
  • AI adoption by sales teams is projected at 139% within the next three years.

2. Bet on Customer Experience

Giving your customers a more personalized experience will make them more likely to do business with you. In fact, 49% of buyers make an impulse purchase after receiving a personalized shopping experience.

60% of customers are comfortable in giving their personal information for a more personalized experience with your business. You can encourage them to do that by letting them create profiles on your website.

Another way to personalize the experience is to answer any questions through a real-time sales team. How to do it?

From your website, encourage your customers to call your sales team or talk to them through any of the best live chat software solutions in the market today.

Talking to a person will help eliminate any doubts customers may have, and your agents can help close the sale in the process.

If you’re looking for other ways to improve and personalize the customer experience, then keep in mind that 80% of Americans say speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service are some of the elements they look for in customer service. The benefits of creating better customer service are as follows:

  1. Increase conversions. Personalized customer experience will make them more likely to do business with your website.
  2. Customer engagement. Making suggestions from the website based on what the page the customer is checking out encourages them to stay on your site longer as you help them find what they need.
  3. Customer retention. Data collected about your customers can be used to make useful suggestions for their new purchase, making them regular customers in the process.

Most Exciting Business Opportunity for B2B companies 2019

Customer Experience is the most exciting business opportunity

source: superoffice.com

Bet on customer experience highlights:

  • 80% of American shoppers consider speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service key elements in customer service
  • 49% of shoppers purchase items after getting a personalized shopping experience.
  • 60% of Americans are comfortable giving their personal information for a more personalized experience.

3. Training is Key

Businesses often neglect the importance of employee training. Inexperienced employees can cause damage to your brand. So, it’s crucial to invest in training to find the most qualified employees for the job.

When you invest in finding the right talent and their training, your organization is looking at a 353% ROI in the coming years.

With the use of any of the leading HR software for your line of work, you can easily find the best people for the job. After hiring them, make sure they spend enough time through training to help them get the hang of their new roles.

According to a study, new sales representatives need an average of 10 weeks in training for their role. However, 26% of reps say that their training is insufficient.

When you invest in training and coaching your employees, your company can see a 95% improvement in your company’s revenue. Other benefits you get when you focus on hiring and training include:

  1. A fresh pair of eyes. During training and coaching, new employees can help you see new ways to do operations around work that you may have overlooked.
  2. Let them be curious. As you show your new hire the ropes, let them ask as many questions as they want. It pays to nurture their natural curiosity about the company and how it is run.
  3. Fewer mistakes in the long run. Allowing enough time for training will help prevent significant errors in the future and gives your employees more confidence when facing customers.

Right people means increased revenue

Training is key highlights:

  • Companies that invest in training and coaching their employees can expect a 353% ROI in the coming years.
  • New sales representatives need an average of 10 weeks in training
  • 26% of sales reps say that their training is insufficient.

4. Social Selling

Selling has changed a lot over the past 10 years. Buyers like to be more informed on what they’re buying than ever before, with 94% of them doing research online before finalizing a purchase.

Through social selling, you’re only giving out information about your products to people who are already interested, thereby giving them a nudge towards your direction.

Social media is a great place to nurture these relationships with your customers. About 31% of B2B professionals said in a survey that social selling has helped them build better relationships with customers.

70% of businesses say that referrals are faster to convert compared to any other lead. So, if you manage to nurture these relationships, there is a chance for them to grow. And when they grow, your customers will be more than happy to recommend you to their loved ones. Other benefits of social selling include:

  1. Increases brand visibility. Active online engagement helps put your brand at the forefront, which results in better visibility and recognition.
  2. Nurtures high-quality leads. With better visibility comes high quality leads. Potential customers that are more likely to convert than just browse what you have to offer.
  3. Better sales results. Thanks to the high-quality leads from the connections you nurtured, you can then expect more sales.

Primary benefits of social selling 2019

Reduced contact time is the most beneficial part of social selling

source: superoffice.com

Social selling highlights:

  • 94% of buyers do research online before finalizing a purchase
  • 31% of companies say that social selling helps create meaningful customer relationships
  • 70% of businesses claim that referrals convert faster than any other type of lead.

5. Outsourcing Sales

One way companies are trying their best to improve their process is through outsourcing. 37% of small businesses outsource one or more of their business processes. While 52% are looking to do the same this 2019.

The Global Outsourcing Market was worth a total of $85.6 billion in 2018, and it’s projected to grow to $82.2 billion by 2022.

A dedicated sales team will be able to focus more on identifying leads, marketing to different segments using different platforms, and converting potential customers.

They can do all that while helping your company save on costs and get the expertise needed for the job. Other benefits of outsourcing your sales team include:

  1. Focused sales group. Outsourcing your sales team creates a group whose sole purpose is to drive in sales from their end so that you can focus more on your company.
  2. Pay for performance. Working together with well-known sales outsourcing firms allow you to pay for expert experience for your business.
  3. Better scalability. Small businesses experience rapid growth, and outsourced sales teams are trained to handle the changes that go with it.

Top reasons why small businesses outsource (2019)

source: clutch.co

Outsourcing sales highlights:

  • 37% of small businesses outsource parts of their business process.
  • 52% of businesses are looking to outsource their sales teams in 2019.
  • The global outsourcing market is expected to grow to $82.2 billion by 2022.

6. CRM is Integral to Sales

91% of North American companies have a CRM solution integrated into their system. And for a good reason, as a functional CRM can help enhance sales techniques.

In fact, 65% of sales reps using mobile CRM has a higher chance of meeting their quotas. That’s because, with CRM, sales reps can see all the data they need is stored in a centralized system in an easy to follow format. CRM can also store customer data, including their orders, allowing your system to suggest more products depending on their last purchase.

And if you’re still not convinced that CRM is a vital part of any sale, just know that 49% of the top-performing sales teams have a CRM tool as part of their process. With it, 91% of sales reps are able to meet their quotas.

You can be part of that statistic if you consider getting one of the top CRM solutions for your business today. Other benefits of having a CRM for your business:

  1. It gives you a 360-degree view of the customer. CRMs provide you with accurate information regarding your customers so you can make better suggestions based on the customer’s preference and purchasing history.
  2. Improves team communication. Keeps the different departments within your company within easy reach as an effective CRM keeps sales, marketing, service, shipping, and other departments connected.
  3. Build customer relationships. Through CRM, companies can better develop customer relationships to convert more sales and increase the number of repeat customers.

CRM is integral to sales highlights:

  • 91% of North American companies currently have a CRM solution for their business.
  • 65% of sales reps using mobile CRM have a higher chance of meeting their quotas.
  • 49% of top-performing sales teams utilize a CRM tool as part of their process.

7. The Millennial Factor

Millennials are known to embrace technology quickly. They are most likely to try any new technological feature your business will have to offer.

In the US, there are about 80 million millennials. As a group, they spend around $600 billion each year. 60% of those purchases are made online, with 97% of shoppers preferring Amazon because of its prices and reviews.

There’s a myth that because most millennials are so tech-savvy, they prefer buying exclusively from online stores.

According to research, however, 68% of millennials are looking for a more integrated shopping experience. So, if you’re looking to focus on this group of people, the best way to do so is to offer a seamless shopping experience that focuses on technology.

Reasons Millennials buy from Amazon 2019

Millennials prefer Amazon because of its online reviews

Source: digitalcommerce360.com

Sell to the younger generation highlights:

  • There are 80 million millennials in the US, and they spend about $600 billion every year
  • 97% use Amazon to shop because of its convenience and prices
  • 60% of millennial purchases are made online.

8. Omnichannel Sales

Omnichannel sales refer to unifying your sales channels and creating a single commerce experience. This allows customers the freedom to choose where and how they want to get your product and service while expecting the same service quality from each one.

About 73% of shoppers look at different channels while searching for a product. These include websites like eBay and Amazon, social media, and physical stores. Staying visible in all of these channels gives your company a better chance of customers picking you. Also, it makes their buying experience more convenient

Businesses utilizing omnichannel sales retain 89% of their customers. That’s because they get to experience your brand’s service through any sales channel of their choice. Using an omnichannel strategy puts you ahead of other vendors, as 55% of companies don’t have an omnichannel strategy in place. Other benefits include:

  1. Improved customer satisfaction. Seeing products through a variety of means allows customers to get a better look and feel of the item before purchasing, improving customer satisfaction.
  2. Better sales. Giving customers the power to purchase items from the platform of their choice increases the chances of sales and lets you reach more people.
  3. Better buying experience. Being available in channels customers use allows them to access your service with ease.

Omnichannel sales highlights:

  • Businesses offering omnichannel sales retain 89% of their customers.
  • 73% of customers use multiple channels when doing their shopping.
  • 39% of consumers are less likely to visit actual stores if their websites do not provide inventory details.

9. Automate to Increase Efficiency

Sales agents can spend precious hours on menial tasks without realizing how much time they are really wasting. For example, they could be responding to an email while the clock ticks away, clearing up their appointment scheduling maze, or getting their to-do lists updated.

Indeed, sales agents spend 64% of their time on non-sales activities. This figure is simply unacceptable today.

The key purpose of automation in sales is to eliminate time-consuming tasks that could otherwise go to nurturing leads. It could even be about finally closing out a sale that has been put on hold for plenty of reasons, many of which are connected to the lack of time to take care of them.

Automate to increase efficiency highlights:

  • Sales agents spend most of their time, around 64%, on non-sales activities.
  • This is unacceptable given the availability of applications that could automate many of these activities.
  • The best sales software apps like HubSpot Sales allow agents to be efficient and more productive.

Most Popular Sales Software

  1. HubSpot Sales is a perennial leader in every sales application list. It provides the smart ecommerce system that helps sell more in less time by automating several sales processes.
  2. Freshsales combines the full functionalities of CRM and sales to help teams close more deals. It’s part of the Freshworks tech stack that includes marketing and customer service apps.
  3. Pipedrive is built by salespeople with the help of expert developers. It allows you to focus on the key sales works while taking care of mundane things.
  4. Brightpearl is an omnichannel management solution that has all the tools you need to manage orders, handle inventory, real-time accounting, reporting, and customer data in one place.
  5. Sales Creatio incorporates industry best practices, a cutting-edge sales AI and is easy on the eyes UX. The app will usher you to the next stage in sales revolution.

10. Forward-Looking Analytics

Analytics is now an essential component in the ever-growing sales agent’s arsenal. This is crucial since sales agents are looking at an equally ever-growing volume of data. There is no way they could sort through the information without the help of analytic engines typically provided by business intelligence tools.

Sales agents, however, usually rely on historical data analysis. They set out to find out what happened in the last period under review and build their own insights based on what the past tells them.

New analytics tools will turn this setup on its head. Rather than looking at the past, sales agents could be looking at the future using predictive analytics to guide their decision making. With this new approach, they should spot previously unmarked opportunities while dodging risks that they didn’t see before.

As it stands, 75 of fast-growing companies already use this new breed of analytics tools. Meanwhile, 53 to 61% of them have yet to catch up.

Analytics Use: Fast Growers vs. Slow Growers

Automate to increase efficiency highlights:

  • Sales agents will be using a new kind of analytics tools to boost their productivity.
  • The shift will be from historical analytics to predictive analytics, which allows them to make better decisions.
  • 75% of fast-growing companies already enjoy this kind of analytics tool; the rest have yet to catch up.

11. Less Friction = More Sales

Buyers understand sales friction when they inquire about a product they might want to buy and in the process, get passed around vendor agents until they grow exasperated, drop the call, and give up the pursuit altogether. Without knowing it, the vendor just lost a sale and a potential loyal customer while the would-be buyer decided that’s the last time he or she would deal with the vendor.

Incompetent agents are just part of the sales friction equation. Unpopular forms, unreasonable registration prompts during takeout, and lack of any available information about the product or services are some of the others.

Businesses now realize the cost of sales friction and are moving towards eliminating them. CRM and better inventory management software applications, for example, offer potent solutions in this direction.

For online stores, it means more capable shopping cart software solutions that understand buying behavior more than anything else. For one, it could eschew registration and just conclude the checkout while saving the customer information for later use.

Setting up a competent knowledge base using any of the leading knowledge management software should handle the lack of readily available information. This is particularly useful for tech-savvy customers who prefer this kind of avenue.

The cost of sales friction

Less friction=more sales highlights:

  • Friction costs business billions in lost sales opportunities.
  • There are many forms of sales friction, but unreasonable registration forms and lack of knowledge base are some of the major ones.
  • Modern shopping cart solutions and leading knowledge management solutions could help businesses solve sales friction.

12. Sales, Marketing and Support Become One

If you ever receive an email from your fire extinguisher provider reminding you that your unit is due for replacement, consider how the email was prepared before it was sent to you.

For one, there’s the marketing department that crafted the email content. Next, there’s the customer support department that keeps the records of customers and forwarded the replacement schedule to the marketing department. Lastly, there’s the sales department that came up with the buy button to embed in the marketing email some time in the past. When you hit that buy button, you’ll most likely be dealing with them again, too.

That one email embodies the state of sales, marketing, and customer support today: one connected whole working on the prime objective–get the revenue coming in, and get them loyal too.

Most businesses that created social media pages see it in more ways than one.

Initially intending to create a vehicle for marketing content, they watched as customers instead took control of the page and plowed queries about sales and support one after another. Support, marketing, and sales becoming fully integrated is the new reality of doing business, and there’s no reason to see it changing in the years ahead.

Sales, marketing and support become one highlights:

  • The new realities of delivering value demand that support, marketing, and sales work together.
  • Follow up emails reflect this new reality as they must combine support information, marketing content, and embed sales function.
  • Business social media pages initially intended for marketing purposes, learned this early on as customers took control of their pages and swamped agents with queries about sales and support.

13. Selling to Generation Z

Comprising 32% of the global population—that’s about 2.6 billion—with $44 billion spending power and further influencing around $600 billion of family spending, Gen Zers present a formidable audience for sellers who have any value proposition.

In the US alone, they already represent 40% of the total US consumers, which means that businesses could lose a lot if they don’t pay special attention to this booming segment of the population.

As part of the digital crowd, Gen Zers have an affinity for YouTube and Instagram content, information that sellers could use to their advantage.

There are more ways that businesses could profile this unique generation. When they do so, they should immediately see their sales numbers spike up while setting loyal customers for decades to come. What business would want to ignore that?

Economic Profile of Gen Z

Selling to Generation Z highlights:

  • There are plenty of reasons why businesses could not afford to ignore the Generation Z in their selling campaigns.
  • Among the reasons is their growing numbers and buying influence.
  • Making up 32% of the global population is one of the reasons, along with the $644 billion that they bring to the table.

14. Turning the Tables: Buyers Overpower Sellers

Gone are the days when sellers could just turn on the heat on buyers, spouting the virtues of their products or service, whether well-founded or not. The tables have turned as now buyers can easily get back at sellers with the dreaded product review for all the world to see. And when they do, the world listens. That there is a development of earthshaking proportions.

That’s not all.

With buyers all over social media, one business misstep could get them on the most tweeted pages resonating across the globe. The screwups could get so bad that one could almost see businesses shuddering in their dugouts.

Statista keeps a record of companies whose reputation were damaged by social media:

Percentage of companies worldwide whose reputation was damaged by employees using social media websites, by region

Source: Statista

Turning the tables: buyers overpower sellers highlights:

  • Buyers have taken control of the selling process in more ways than one.
  • Product reviews, for one, allow them to get back at businesses who deliver bad products or services or just failed at delivering customer service.
  • Social media also allow consumers to hurt companies back for any slight they receive from companies.

15. Be a Modern Disruptor

People typically associate disruption with technology and the companies behind them. Not anymore.

In our age, when every company virtually lines up for the next technological edge in offer, companies with winning mentalities have to find a way to differentiate themselves from the pack.

After all, what’s the use of embedding a payment gateway in your online storefront if a willing purchaser could not get through with the payment process? You get a frustrated buyer instead, who will sooner avoid your brand than the plague.

If your app subscriber suddenly found themselves with three vacant seats and you insist that your subscriber still pay for these empty seats, you’re lining up your current client for the competition sooner than you expect.

The same if you’re an internet provider: your subscriber wishes to upgrade and downgrade, and all they do the past week is get passed around disinterested agents who could be as useful as a post on the side street. Then you wonder why you’re losing subscribers month in and month out as your competition couldn’t seem to get enough of your old clients signing up with them.

There are more examples like these, but the lesson is clear: you have to get ahead of your clients’ needs and deliver seamlessly. This way, they could start and conclude their day like nothing ever is wrong in the world.

In essence, the modern disruptor appoints experience central to doing their business. The hospitality sector already excels in this department, so it’s just a matter of adopting that same mentality that makes industries such as this tick.

Leading Disruptive Technologies

Be a modern disruptor highlights:

  • The modern disruptor is not necessarily rooted in technology.
  • In many ways, modern disruptor places experiences at the center of doing business.
  • This approach is not new: it’s literally from the books of the hospitality industries.

Leverage these sales trends for your business

Knowing and understanding the trends in sales and marketing allows you to better prepare your company for the future. As this post shows, excellent customer relationships can go a long way.

Providing potential customers with a seamless way to do their shopping from the moment they see your deal on their phones to dropping by your store, as well as being able to offer them excellent customer service, will help them become long-term customers in the future. This is, in fact, all the rage now coming off the sales, marketing and service coupling: having a single customer experience management strategy.

Additionally, finding the best people for the job and giving them the right training contributes to customer satisfaction. So, always make sure that each employee gets the right kind of training to see better customer service for more satisfied customers.

By Jenny Chang

Senior writer at FinancesOnline who writes about a wide range of SaaS and B2B products, including trends and issues on e-commerce, accounting and customer service software. She’s also covered a wide range of topics in business, science, and technology for websites in the U.S., Australia and Singapore, keeping tabs on edge tech like 3D printed health monitoring tattoos and SpaceX’s exploration plans.

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