Sales Trends That You Need To Know About

The world of sales has been rapidly changing in the last few years as new technology evolved and became more accessible to businesses and sales teams across niches. The question is, what will 2019 bring to the table? What will be the biggest trends in sales happening in 2019?

In this blog post, I’m going to talk about 4 sales trends that you need to know about in 2019.

1.    Selling to the new generation: Generation Z

Millennials used to be the “new” generation that marketers and sales people needed to start focusing on – and while millennials are definitely increasing in terms of buying power, there is a new generation emerging that both marketers and sales people need to be aware of:

Generation Z.

This generation is formed of those born anywhere from the mid-90’s to the mid-2000’s so the oldest in their early 20s while the youngest are just barely teenagers right now. Of course, the bigger focus should be on the older of the Generation Z who are gaining more and more buying power. Currently, Gen Z account for approximately $29 – $143 billion in direct spending, and they are well on their way to becoming the biggest generation of consumers by 2020, which is right around the corner.

So, how does this affect sales? Well, this generation is quite different from previous generations, at least in some respect. For example, they were born with access to incredible technology and grew up using social media, smartphones, online shopping and all kinds of other technologies on a daily basis. They also care a lot about worldwide issues and their own impact on the world, particularly when it comes to environmental issues.

Plus, there’s one very interesting statistic that might surprise many people: some studies show that Generation Z actually prefers brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping (57% said they prefer online shopping).

How do you sell to this generation though?

The secret stands in understanding who forms this generation and what they care about – the more you learn about them, the easier it will be to come up with the best approach to sell to them.

2.    A more strategic approach to sales enablement

One way or another, every sales team gets at least little bit of sales enablement, whether it’s the software they get to help them sell more efficiently or occasional training sessions. That said, there’s certainly been a lot of growth in this area in the past couple of years, with more and more businesses and organizations implementing sales enablement strategies, a trend which is very likely to continue in the coming year.

But, what’s more, there will also be a more strategic approach to sales enablement:

  •      An actual strategy and plan with clear objectives and certain steps to be taken
  •      A bigger focus on helping sales people develop their top skills and become better at their job
  •      An easier way to onboard new sales people and help them jump right into selling
  •      More focus on new technology that can aid the sales enablement process as well as individual sales people to sell more

How do you stay on top of this trend?

In order to stay of this trend, take the time to really plan out a sales enablement strategy, from helping to onboard new sales people as efficiently as possible to consistent coaching to your existing sales people.

Make use of technology like MindTickle to implement your strategy, as well as to leverage data as part of your sales enablement strategy. You’ll be able to create onboarding and coaching programs, simulated sales scenarios to help develop your sales people’s skills, plus you have access to Artificial Intelligence to help you maximize your efficiency and results and access to in-depth analytics to help you discover any knowledge or skill gaps that need your attention.

3.    Machine learning, deep learning, artificial intelligence and sales

Artificial Intelligence has the power to disrupt entire industries – and sales is no exception. For example, I already showed you how AI can help with sales enablement and coaching. There are definitely a lot of ways that AI will continue to impact the world of sales in 2019, though.

The more you can implement Artificial Intelligence into the tools you use to sell, as well as into your day to day strategy, the bigger the impact on your productivity will be.

Here are the main ways that AI can help salespeople be more productive:

  •      The ability to analyse huge amounts of data in a very short time will help you personalize your sales strategy
  •      Get recommendations based on massive amounts of data, thus saving time with following up and reaching out to the right people
  •      Predict the future – with access to so much data, plus the ability to analyse this data, comes a great power: the ability to predict the future. What will your next quarter look like based on your past work? What can you do to improve the results of your next quarter?

How can you leverage Artificial Intelligence?

AI is fortunately becoming more and more accessible by the minute. While the more complex systems might be out of range for the regular business, plenty of “regular” sales tools are implementing more AI-based features, such as CRM tools and prospecting tools.

If you want to also learn about your leads and prospects as well as accurately analyse your data, you can use tools like MissingLink to automate deep learning.

4.    Moving towards the omni-channel experience

Earlier, I talked about Generation Z – the new generation of buyers that is rapidly gaining a huge buying power in the market.

One of the things that these younger generation expect more and more is an integrated experience across all of a business’s channels. The new generations use various devices at any given moment, they research products and services online extensively before they buy and they often demand personalized experiences that flow seamlessly from channel to channel.

This trend towards omni-channel marketing and creating omni-channel experiences has a huge impact on sales. Most importantly when it comes to the relationship between a sales department and a marketing department. While these departments are (historically) quite clearly separate, the move towards omni-channel marketing demands a much closer relationship between the 2.

How do you create more omni-channel experiences from a sales point of view?

There is a lot that needs to be done in order to develop a true omni-channel experience for all of your customers:

  •      Identifying all the platforms and channels your audience uses and leveraging them
  •      Creating a seamless transition between all channels and platforms that audiences have access to (for example, if a lead starts a conversation via text messages while they’re on the bus or train but then want to change the channel once they get home, then they should be able to do as seamlessly as possible, without wasting any time)
  •      Finding ways to integrate technology such as social media into bricks-and-mortar stores

From a sales point of view, the most important thing is to collaborate with the marketing department. It’s not just a case of marketers updating sales people on progress or sending them leads occasionally, but rather a truly close relationship where the 2 parties actually collaborate, as sales and marketing are more intertwined than ever.

Conclusion

In order to improve productivity and overall sales, it’s important to stay on top of trends and implement new technologies and new tactics, such as:

  •      Learning how to sell to Generation Z
  •      Implementing a sales enablement strategy to help your sales team be more productive
  •      Leveraging new technology like AI and machine learning to improve sales and knowledge
  •      Integrating marketing and sales and developing more omni-channel experiences for your audience

What sales trends are you most excited about?

HR trends

1. Personalisation

Historically HR has focused very much on standardisation and “One-Size-Fits-All”. Making the shift to an approach where the individual needs, wishes and capabilities of candidates and employees are the starting point is difficult. Traditionally, many HR-practices take the needs of the organisation as the starting point. An example is recruitment: we have an organisation structure, with a hierarchy, and well-defined jobs. Next step: how do we find the candidates that can fill the vacancy? Another example: most onboarding processes are designed top-down: what do we want new employees to know when they enter the organisation? The reverse question is hardly ever asked: what can we learn from the new employees who enter the organisation?

Also Learning & Development has a hard time to make the shift to an individualised approach. We still see many programs targeted at groups (e.g. high potentials, senior managers), with a large classroom component.  Office design is an area where the standard approach has backfired. Most of the new office designs now take the different needs of users into account. If you are work better near other people and if you regularly need advice from colleagues, you can work in open space. When you need to concentrate on a complicated report, you can sit alone in a quiet room. For a call with a client, you can find one of the small phone booths.

In 2019 personalisation will get a lot of attention, and employees and organisations will benefit.

2. The Trust issue

Do people trust the organisations they work in? Do employees trust technology? Are people confident the organisations will use technology for their benefit? A recent global survey of Ernst & Young (“Trust in the Workplace“) showed that less than half of the respondents have “a great deal of trust” in their current employers, boss or team/colleagues.

trust in the workplace

The results of the annual Edelman Trust Barometer are a bit more promising: globally 72% of the employees trusted their employers “to do what is right” (see table below for the differences between countries). Trust in government and the media is a lot lower. Cognitive dissonance might be an element in the explanation of the higher trust in employers than in the government and the press. If you do not trust your employer, why do you still work there??

Edelman Trust Barometer

The trust issue needs to be on the 2019 HR agenda, because many of the HR initiatives are designed under the assumption that employees trust the organisation and that employees trust technology. Unfortunately, the trust level might be lower than we expect.

3. Development as a service

What can we learn from football? In football some of the top players hire organisations, as Your Tactical Analyst, to help them with their development.

Your tactical analyst

The provider gathers data about the player (per match), analyses the data and sits with the player to discuss the outcomes and the lessons. The provider is there for the player, paid by the player. The club of the player is not involved. This seems to work well, although some clubs do not like it. The interests of the player (the employee) and the club (the employer) are not totally aligned. The club wants to become champion this year. The player wants to develop into one of the most valuable strikers in the world. The interests of the service provider (Your Tactical Analyst and others) are totally aligned with those of the player. “We are here to help you to become better”.

In business life we have not seen it a lot (a bit in the executive coaching area), but we expect, and hope,  it will come. We see a great perspective for data-driven “Development as a service”.

4. Erosion of the Employee Experience

Recently I published “Trends in Employee Journey Maps“. It is interesting to study these maps. Most of these maps are roads.

employee journey

They look like two-way roads, but in fact you can only go one way. There are no exists, only at the far end of the road. Somewhere there is a big round-about. Only one small exit, and the road designer (the organisation) hopes that you will never find it. The “Employee Experience” is a bit of a hype, and the corporate HR designers have incorporated the employee experience in their designs and interventions. But, as we can see in the majority of the employee journey maps, they have not changed their approach. The approach is top-down, and organisation focused. “If you want an employee experience, we will give you one you will never forget”. They design employee experiences to please the boss, with no real focus on the employee.

The initial starting point of the employee experience concept is very good: how can we give employees an experience that fits with their needs, expectations and capabilities? Unfortunately, it is eroding into a consultancy led framework, trying to fool employees into a journey on a one-way road with no exists, as the brief was “We want to attract and retain our talent” (The Dutch use “Binden en Boeien”, which Google translates into “Tie and Cuff”).

Read: The Erosion of the Employee Experience.

5. No more Paternalism

Often HR takes a very paternalistic and normative approach. “Our leaders and managers should be good coaches”. “We expect our employees to take responsibility for their own development”. “You cannot opt out of life-long learning”. Coaching is a good example. It starts with the global leadership model. These models (often a circle) always contain an element like “Developing People” and/or “Coaching. As an example, below the model of Leadership USA.

Leadership Competency Model

As the reality is that many managers are not good coaches, the next step is training (mandatory). Also, HR designs a process, that forces managers to have coaching sessions with their direct reports at least twice per year. The process is incorporated in the HR System, and when a manager starts her computer in the morning, the chatbot starts talking: “Good morning Tina, it is time for your bi-annual coaching session with (terrible) Tom, I have already scheduled it. Can you please complete the following preparation form?”. This approach is cracking, as it does not work. Neither Task Oriented Tina nor Terrible Tom are happy with the process. Why force people to do things they do not like, and they are not very good at? it is time to consider other approaches.

Trends in SEO & Content Marketing

What’s trending in content marketing and SEO these days?

Let’s say this: Content is more important than ever.

More specifically, quality, media type, authenticity, and audience targeting all come into play if you want to win with readers and Google.

Ready to learn more?

These are the five content marketing and SEO trends you need to know.

1. Go Beyond (WAY Beyond) Superficial Content

We’re seeing brands leave superficial content behind in favor of blogs and articles that plumb the depths of a topic.

That means more and more blogs are comprehensive, thoroughly researched and – you guessed it – long.

For instance, look at the SERP for the query [content marketing examples]. The top 4 results have an average length of 2,207 words.

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

Furthermore, all these results are chock-full of real-world examples, studies, statistics, and facts.

This research had to be accurately and carefully compiled, referenced, and cited.

This Optinmonster blog (result #2 and a featured snippet) is well-researched, meaning it includes lots of examples, links to sources, and screenshots. It also clocks in at over 3,000 words:

This is what is necessary to rank well with readers and search engines these days.

Still publishing unplanned, unresearched, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants content?

Not going to work anymore. In fact, I could argue this method never worked in the first place.

Superficial content will get you superficial results, at best. There is rarely any value in content that skims the surface of a topic.

No value = no audience interest. No audience interest = no results.

2. Invest in Content Creation Processes

To create best-of-the-best content, more brands than ever are investing in content creation processes.

According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2019 B2C research, 56% of content marketers increased spending within the last 12 months on content creation.

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

That might involve:

  • Researching keywords and topics.
  • Planning what the content will cover (and why).
  • Writing the content.
  • Optimizing.
  • Editing.
  • Creating graphics, pulling screenshots, or leveraging the written content into multimedia.
  • Posting and promoting the content across multiple channels.

The interest in creating content is a matter of course.

Content marketing has reached peak popularity over the last few years, according to Google Trends.

Most marketers want a piece of the promised land.

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

Investing more dollars in content creation processes makes sense:

How else can you create the type of value-packed, high-quality content that readers love and search engines rank?

If you don’t invest, you won’t have the resources to do it right.

End of story.

3. Use Content Personalization for Ultra-Targeted Content

Another widely-adopted content marketing trend is content personalization.

According to a survey from Evergage, 93% of marketers use personalization for at least one channel in their digital marketing strategy.

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

This practice focuses on tailoring the content your site serves to different users based on readily available personal data like demographics, preferences, and search/browsing history.

According to the Evergage survey, most marketers agree that this tactic:

  • Helps deliver better customer experiences.
  • Increases customer loyalty.
  • Generates measurable ROI.

5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

The point is, the content that speaks to one type of user won’t speak to another. A first-time visitor to your page has different needs than a visitor on their 20th session, for example.

Content personalization gives each of them slightly different pages filled with content that will appeal to their personal needs.

Conversion XL Chart

This chart from ConversionXL shows how two different versions of content are served to two different users.