2016 will usher in a combination of new technologies, training methods, and internal collaboration that will empower innovative sales organizations to achieve increased top-line growth. Here are the five game-changing trends that will permeate the sales world in the New Year.
#1: Social Selling Will Become a Sales Requisite
Modern sales representatives have been experimenting with social selling for years, but it is quickly becoming the new bar to distinguish sales stars from underperformers. Soon, all sales reps will use social media to identify, research and engage with prospects.
More than 70 percent of salespeople use social media to outperform their peers. The valuable information that customers and prospects share on social media helps sales reps uncover more engagement opportunities and personalize their communication when reaching out to prospects. Social media power users also stimulate engagement with potential customers through the creation and curation of valuable content, which further increases sales opportunities. In 2016, social selling will finally become mainstream to the extent that the label “social” will get dropped and the practice will simply become known as “selling.”
#2: Spending on Sales Training Events Will Decline
Companies are realizing that event-based training programs are no longer the most effective way to train their sales teams, which are more distributed and mobile than ever before. In fact, studies have demonstrated that 80 percent of information is forgotten within 90 days of a training event, so it’s clear that most events do not provide the level of training sales reps need or the ROI companies expect.
Salespeople learn information best when they need it most and it’s no secret that their motivation peaks at the moment they’re looking to close a deal. As a result, companies will start allocating larger portions of their training budgets to ongoing, just-in-time training and coaching, rather than traditional methods, to reduce onboarding time, improve message retention, and boost sales productivity.
#3: Video Will Play a Key Role in Sales Training
Businesses are starting to realize that video is the best form factor to convey information because it is visual, engaging and on-demand, which supports information absorption and retention in ways that other mediums can’t.
Employees already spend about 45 minutes per day watching video, a number that will likely double in 2016, so video is well on its way to becoming pervasive across the sales organization and the larger enterprise. Sales organizations will turn to video platforms to offer reps immediate access to the content they need, whenever and wherever they need it, and to capture and share the best ideas from the field. Beyond training, video will also be used to improve enterprise collaboration and communication.
#4: Sales and Marketing Will Collaborate More Closely
Although sales and marketing teams both work toward a common goal of increasing revenue, they often speak a different language. However, there is tremendous opportunity for companies that get cross-functional collaboration right: SiriusDecisions found that aligned organizations achieve up to 19 percent faster revenue growth and 15 percent higher profitability.
Marketing and sales teams are catching on to the fact that they are co-dependent and benefit from increased collaboration. There is no yin without yang: sales teams need content produced by marketing to drive and convert sales leads, and marketers need insights from the field to optimize their content. Sure, there will always be differences of opinion between the two teams, but sales and marketing alignment will no longer be a far-fetched dream.
#5: New Roles and Reporting Structures Will Emerge
As the line between sales and marketing slowly begins to blur, new roles and reporting structures that straddle both departments will pop up. Don’t be surprised to see your inside sales team reporting to the CMO or Chief Revenue Officer in the future, or to see the appointment of a Sales Enablement Director.
Growth is on the horizon. As marketing and sales roles continue to merge, ongoing dialogue between both functions will be more important than ever. Organizations that connect the two functions through new training and enablement tools that let their best ideas bubble up to the top will set themselves on a path to capture market share in the New Year. 2016 is anyone’s game and it can be yours.