It’s the beginning of 2019, and this is the best time to take a minute and reflect on what we achieved last year. At Freshworks, we’re also thinking about the goals we want to set for 2019.
For all business owners who want to join us in strategizing and planning for 2019, we’ve identified five sales trends that are set to shape and influence the selling process in the upcoming year. Taking these factors into consideration, you will be able to analyze how your industry has evolved over the last year. This will help you come up with a well-rounded, multi-faceted plan, to bring your company to greater heights.
1. The CRM is evolving to become the holy grail
These days, CRMs are becoming more powerful than ever—there’s no denying that. The new generation of CRMs don’t just serve as a place for businesses to store information about their leads and contacts; they’re a single source of truth where all your customer information is available.
As most business owners will realize, investing in a good CRM is paramount. This lays a proper foundation for your marketing and sales teams to build upon. The question then remains; what constitutes a good CRM? There are various factors that you may take into consideration here, but the one factor that I will be focusing on is how CRM systems should work within an ecosystem, especially in tandem with help desks and chat software.
Here’s the thing – in most cases the CRM, the help desk, and the chat widget still remain as separate tools. This, in my opinion, is particularly problematic since ideally, you’d want these three tools to be housed on the same platform. This allows you to keep your data in one place, which in turn lets you glean important insights and establish context using that data.
Say you own a SaaS product, and you’re trying to convince prospect A to upgrade their account and become a paying user. If you can see that this prospect has previously written to your helpdesk about trouble with a certain feature, you’ll be able to identify their potential sales objection (that your tool doesn’t work for them). Bearing this in mind, you can figure out how to overcome this sales objection ahead of your conversation with the prospect.
2. The rise of AI in sales prospecting
In my experience, the one activity that eats up a majority of the sales rep’s time is none other than sales prospecting. If your sales reps spend 40% or 50% of their work day cold-calling, that’s 40% or 50% less time that they spend on negotiating and closing deals.
How do you get around this? Use AI, and outsource the sales prospecting to salesbots. This way, your sales reps will be able to reduce time spent on repetitive tasks and focus on higher-value activities instead.
If you haven’t experimented with salesbots yet, they are a godsend to sales teams who want to generate more leads and prospects. When it comes to sales prospecting, salesbots can do pretty much anything your sales reps can do.
For instance, you’ve probably trained your sales reps to ask qualifying questions, and steer the conversation in one direction or another based on the results. You can program salesbots to do the exact same thing.
On top of this, salesbots also help you reach out to more potential customers, which translates into higher conversion rates and more revenue for your company.
Case in point: Amtrak successfully increased their bookings by 25% after launching their salesbot, Julie. Bookings from Julie saved Amtrak $1,000,000 in customer service expenses in one year. Overall, this salesbot brought Amtrak an 800% ROI.
Once you’ve gotten comfortable with salesbots, you can start using AI to improve upon other parts of your sales funnel as well. For instance, you could use AI algorithms to determine how much you should price a deal (to ensure that your deal goes through), or to identify which of your customers are most likely to respond well to cross-selling or up-selling. The sky’s the limit!
3. Real-time selling is becoming a key driver of sales
It’s no secret that today, people demand instant gratification; we have attention spans that are shorter than ever. Considering this, it’s not surprising that real-time selling is becoming a growing trend. More specifically, if a lead enters your system, and you reach out to them within five minutes (as opposed to half hour), your odds of successfully making contact increases by a whopping 100x.
If you’re wondering how you can engage in real-time selling, the key is to use salesbots (which we’ve covered above) or live chat. Live chat tools are highly effective in increasing your conversions and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
Here are some numbers to back that claim – up to 77% of customers won’t make a purchase on a website if there’s no live chat option available. Additionally, 63% of customers are more likely to return to a website that has live chat available.
If you want to start using salesbots and live chat to increase your conversions and CLV, you can simply use Freshsales+Freshchat. Another option is to use Freshchat with the Freshchat bot.
4. Contact enrichment-based selling is winning customers quicker than ever
All marketers and business owners understand this on an intuitive level; your chances of conversion is much better when you know what excites the person who is going to receive your mail, rather than an ice cold, one-shoe-fits-all email.
In other words, to increase your chances of successfully selling your product, you need to craft a pitch that resonates with your lead. Working backward from here, you need to understand your lead’s psyche and get to know them in order to craft a pitch that resonates and is relatable. That’s where contact enrichment comes in.
Contact enrichment isn’t automatically integrated in most CRMs. If your existing CRM doesn’t come with this functionality, you’ll have to purchase a separate tool. The problem with this is that your sales reps will see this as an additional step that adds more work to their plate. So there’s only a slim chance that they’ll use this tool consistently.
To get around this, shop around for a CRM like Freshsales that automatically enriches your contacts. With auto enrichment, you’ll have access to a treasure trove of information about your contact. Since this function resides within the CRM, sales reps can easily get more context about their leads, sort leads based on a lead score, and go on to craft emails based on the enriched information without any hassle.
At the most basic level, you’ll learn more about who they are, including which companies they’ve worked at, their place of business, and their areas of interest. On top of that, you’ll also know what pages they visited on the website, and what features they used within your product. From here, all you have to do is digest all that information, and craft a pitch that will compel (and excite) your prospect.
5. Personalization matters more than ever
We all have an innate need to be recognized and acknowledged for who we are and what we do. That’s why personalized campaigns are so powerful. There are various ways you can personalize your email campaigns, including:
Notice how this ties back into our fourth point—the more you know about your contact, the easier it is to segment them and personalize your communications to them effectively.
Email aside, be sure to create a personalized experience for consumers who engage with you on social channels as well. You can do this by:
- Ensuring that you have a defined customer persona, and creating social content tailored to that persona
- Addressing your customers by name when you reply to their comments or messages
- Posting and sharing User Generated Content (UGC)
A final word on 2019 sales trends
Your B2B customers are evolving and becoming increasingly sophisticated with time. As we move into 2019, take some time to consider how you can use your CRM as part of a larger ecosystem of products, to tie in lead generation, management and customer support to ‘wow’ your customers. At the end of the day, you want to pre-empt your customer needs and make every touch point with your company as easy and frictionless as possible. Once you can do this, it’ll be easy for you to win over your customers, and leave your competitors in the dust!