As all good sales people know, the past decade has undergone a massive change in the way we ‘sell’ and ultimately how we engage with the buyer. Digital marketing has been a tremendous part of this, having undergone a substantial transformation to secure itself a strong position within the sales techniques we now use.
Social networks (e.g., Facebook and LinkedIn) were the most commonly used type of social media (42.9%), followed by business blogs (23.8%), multimedia sharing (15.0%) by sales people in 2015 – and its clear to see why - looking at Twitter alone, the latest statistics show that its now reaching over 288 million active users every month – active are accounts that regularly post and contribute to the platform, of which 80% come from mobile.
Sales people simply can’t afford to miss the opportunity to get in front of prospects and this new medium is the new cold calling, but what does this mean for your sales role?
Well, in my opinion the figures speak for themselves; there is a clear trend that mobile searching will grow in the digital landscape over the next five years and as such, sales people need to adapt and take it on board to create their own digital profiles that provide an additional point of contact with prospects, clients and suppliers.
As digital technologies evolve, some practices will ultimately become obsolete, while new tools hit the market – with that in mind, here are my predictions for the next year and how you, as a sales professional can use them to your advantage;
Visual Storytelling will boom
Visual marketing will always be an important tactic in customer engagement and prospecting, because it opens up a new world of presenting complex and long information simply, we have seen this with the growth of infographics over the past year and this will continue.
Another visual element that I think will increase as part of businesses digital strategy will be video – particularly through story-telling. What I mean by that is the whole ‘visual communication’ – by integrating tools such as video, infographics, design creations (leaflets) into a consistent sales strategy, sales people will be able to enhance your proposition message and build emotional connections with your audience.
Augmented Reality & Wearable Technology
Probably something that not a lot of smaller businesses have come across much as of yet, but something I think will boom over the next few years – it’s a natural progression for the internet to close the gap between off and online marketing.
Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data;
A great example of this is the Ikea catalogue, which in 2014 added bonus materials which includes digital content, the user activates the 50 bonus pages to reveal a decorators virtual paradise with 360/180 degree views of rooms, and allows the user to design his/her own space digitally!
On the other hand there is wearable technology, which will be the next stage in development technology – you just have to look at what Apple did for technological progression to see this – I believe (and hope), that wearable technology will become another way to ‘reach out’ to new and prospective customers and bridge the gap further from on to offline.
What does this mean for you in a sales role? Well, it means that you will probably be more reliant on technology as part of your ‘pitches’ in the future if you aren’t already. Using visual tech aids such as iPad to deliver easy to digest information as part of your sales process will help you drive influence more in your meetings.
Analytics will have more focus
It’s always been important for sales people to integrate marketing activities with the sales output and in the future I believe this will be even more so. There are new solutions on the market now which provide detailed information, which if used properly could help to develop a clearer sales funnel and more effective prospecting.
An example of this is website analytics, which previously we have used as tracking to develop marketing campaigns – yet now the information you can access is simply fabulous, such as visitor tracking, down to the exact location (IP/ office address and contact details), profile information and level of the individual (for example CEO, name, sex, contact details) – how much easier does this make lead generation of the future?
We are a digital marketing agency, so it goes without saying that we actively encourage companies to invest in online activity and to create a professional presence on social media channels – but – it’s also more important to have a vision, a strategy and footprint and clear objectives for your social media development, or it really won’t be worth the time you put into it at all, and you could end up in hot water instead…
By Claire Curzon, is Managing Director of multi award-winning outsourced marketing agency Brighter Directions; who provide PR & Media Communications, Expert tailored Content and strategic Digital & Social Media marketing campaigns to clients globally. Claire launched the company in 2006 after a prestigious and successful senior career for corporate firms across Financial, Publishing, Manufacturing and Hospitality sectors.