You know the drill: The marketing team generates leads and then pass them on to the sales team to guide those leads through the sales funnel.
However, things have been changing rapidly in the last few years and we are now seeing a convergence of marketing and sales, meaning that they’re both working together through the entire sales process.
"A lot can go right when sales and marketing are aligned, but a lot more can go wrong when they aren’t,” says AJ Alonzo, Director of Marketing at demandDrive. "Communication is everything - it lets marketing know how they're performing in relation to revenue generated, and it lets sales know if they're leaving money on the table.”
With all the advances in technology and the amount of information customers have available, business cannot continue as usual. For that reason, you must be aware of the latest trends in sales and marketing, and start implementing them in your company.
In this article, I will describe 9 of these sales and marketing trends to follow in 2019.
3 Sales Trends:
- Artificial Intelligence and Sales
- Social Selling
- Outsource Sales
6 Marketing Trends:
- Data-Driven Marketing
- Conversational Marketing
- Influencer Marketing
- Experiential Marketing
- Visual Marketing
- Demand Marketing
The advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) are fascinating, creating machines that work and react like humans. AI is impacting many areas and sales is one of them: from content curated by computers to chatbots that answer web visitor’s questions.
One widespread use of AI are chatbots. These simple but powerful tools allow you to automate responses based on customer queries, answering much like a human would. Chatbots help qualify leads, collect contact information and answer questions, so your sales team can later follow up via phone or email.
Social selling is the process of using a social network to find the right prospects, build trusted relationships, and achieve your sales goals. In B2C sales, the focus is on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, while B2B sales rely more on LinkedIn.
The reason for social selling? A sales rep should be where the buyers are - and that’s social media. Afterall, 84% of C and VP level executives use social in decision making, yet, only 31% of sales reps use social media in their sales process.
Social selling is a powerful tool, more effective than traditional channels. LinkedIn, for instance, is one of the most effective lead nurturing tools available. I saw an average LinkedIn message has an average open rate of 60% compared to around 25% for typical B2B emails.
Are you engaging with your prospects through social media channels?
#3 - Outsource Sales
More and more companies are outsourcing their sales department to save time and costs but, mainly, because it delivers results. Outsourcing sales is 43% more efficient than generating leads in-house because managed service companies have more expertise.
From a business standpoint, outsourcing sales, makes perfect sense: you let others take care of the legwork, while you focus on what you do best - create and deliver your product or service.
Contracting an outside sales team doesn’t mean you lose control of the sales process. On the contrary, you can take charge by measuring specific success metrics.
With the surge of managed services companies and automated sales systems, outsourcing sales is a trend that will keep growing in 2019 and beyond.
#4 - Data-driven Marketing
Closely related to AI, data-driven marketing refers to the strategies derived from the analysis of large amounts of data. In other words, it's making a decision of who to target, when and where, based on the numbers.
Marketers can collect data at every interaction with prospects to better understand them, interpret that data to predict future behaviors and make real-time marketing decisions. What messages and ads do they prefer to read? How can those messages and ads be personalized to be more effective?
As CRM and analytics software become more sophisticated, the amount of data collected and the quality of its interpretation will become even more useful for your marketing efforts. Are you using data to your advantage?
Conversational marketing - engaging one-on-one with your clients in a sales conversation - is arguably the most ancient form of marketing, although forsaken.
The trend in the past few years has been to capture leads through email forms and other impersonal methods, but marketers are now realizing that there’s no substitute for human connection.
The new trend is having a team dedicated to conversational marketing in your organization. In conversational marketing you’re speaking to people in real time, answering people’s questions, learning about their needs, listening to their feedback, and finding creative ways to help them.
This can be done on social media or through a live chat box on your website.
When you have a dedicated team for conversational marketing, you provide a better experience for your customers, you let them know that you care and want to have a real conversation with them. You gain their trust - and trust is the key to effective marketing.
Have you ever seen popular YouTube videos sponsored by renowned brands? This is influencer marketing. Brands are moving from paying huge amounts to celebrities for endorsing their products and are now recruiting micro-influencers, regular folks with lots of followers.
The new trend is to use micro influencers in B2B marketing - industry-specific trusted advisors, thought leaders, or subject matter experts. More of these are rising to the spotlight through LinkedIn, Sales Hacker and online expert forums.
However, B2B marketers don’t have to rely solely on professional sites like LinkedIn, but can experiment with different social networks. It all depends on who your customers will trust more, an industry expert on LinkedIn or a trusted mother on Instagram.
Moving away from marketing behind a computer, experiential marketing seeks to immerse customers in a fun and memorable experience, such as surprising displays at public places or augmented reality stations in a shopping mall.
Another option to create an experience is event marketing. More than a boring conference, you can put together an interactive, hands-on experience where your customers can experience what you do and what you stand for.
Jim King, Director of Partner Alliances at Geekhive, says that one of their biggest challenges is “positioning our brand properly to compete in a world of much larger vendors. We use event marketing to better position ourselves."
Remember plain ol’ email marketing? For 2019, the video trend continues. There are now video sales platforms such as BombBomb or VidYard that send personalized video emails to your list, with all the gadgets of a full CRM program.
Video is everywhere now, not just on YouTube, and is the ultimate marketing tool. In fact, data shows that if you have both video and text on the same page, 72% of people prefer video to learn about a product or service.
In 2019, you must produce and market great videos featuring your brand and the benefits you provide for your customers.
Demand marketing or demand generation involves getting people excited about your brand or product to generate demand. You must drive awareness and generate lots of interest in what you offer, so people will be eager to learn more and engage with you.
The goal of demand marketing is to form long term relationships with customers. This is done through different channels and marketing programs: from blogging to responding questions on Twitter, from hosting webinars to running engaging email campaigns.
Urska Blagojevic, Marketing Director at Whisbi explains how they generated demand with their marketing campaigns. "We started with account-based marketing and high quality content such as research papers and business cases with well-defined messaging that appealed to our target persona and their industry. We used mostly LinkedIn sponsored content and connected the leads into our CRM, where we built reports and dashboards to show how leads that we generate move down the funnel."
Actively engaging with your audience is the secret behind demand generation - and all the sales and marketing trends in this article will help you do that.
More than following trends for the sake of being trendy, you must pay attention to what is working in today’s competitive market and see if it can work for you.
As Carolyn Jospehs from CJ Design & Consulting points out, a major challenge of any business is ‘’winning more business,’’ and ‘’persistence’’ will always be a tactic to overcome this.
By adding research and experiment, to persistence, mixed with some of the trends above - you will be in a great place to increase your sales and ROI.
Discover how to generate a wealth of new sales leads: