The last decade brought disruptive technologies and trends, from smartphones to the gig economy, that have redefined the relationship between customers and companies.
Today, the power rests in the hands of the customer. Equipped with information at their fingertips, buyers can progress through their journey without ever talking to a seller.
As sales leaders, it is our responsibility to keep a pulse on the changing landscape and reimagine how we approach sales in the age of the customer. Teams that proactively predict trends and evolve will remain competitive, and teams that don’t face irrelevance.
In the year ahead, customers will continue to rewrite the rules of business. How we play within those rules is up to us — and our strategy decides whether we win or lose. Be on top of your game by staying informed on these three trends that are already shaping 2020.
Customer Experience Pursuits Will Unite Teams
With expectations high and competition fierce, providing a top-notch customer experience is crucial. Your B2B buyers are the same people who use direct-to-consumer services, like Netflix and Amazon. Accustomed to a personalised, cohesive purchasing experiences, these buyers are demanding more from business vendors than ever before.
In 2020, expect to see more sales, marketing, and customer-facing teams uniting under the common goal of providing a world-class customer experience. Siloed teams lead to a disjointed experience, ultimately impacting revenue. Forrester found that aligned organisations achieved an average of 32% annual revenue growth, while less aligned companies reported an average 7% decline in revenue.
Alignment means all teams have a shared understanding of the customer and the journey, from the awareness stage to post-sale. Leaders must prioritise aligning goals, metrics, systems, and technologies to build connected customer experiences.
Content Will Come Home
Information is limitless in our digital world. Buyers are constantly consuming content of their own accord — 53% of buyers already view three to five pieces of content before engaging a sales rep. This content will either succeed in moving them farther along their journey or send them down a different path completely.
The organisations that align content to each stage, persona, and product use case will engage buyers, while those that don’t, won’t. You must deliver content that frames the offering through the lens of the buyer’s unique needs. Successful marketers and salespeople will use audits to deeply understand content effectiveness, taking the guesswork out of the picture.
Because 74% of buyers choose the rep that was first to add value, salespeople must thoughtfully use content to provide tailored insights that resonate with each unique prospect. However, SiriusDecisions found that an alarming 71% of sales leaders say that their sellers fail to connect their solution to prospects’ needs. This is where guidance comes into play — marketing and sales enablement teams can leverage new technology to equip their sales team with both content and guidance on what to know, say, and show in every selling scenario. Organisations that prioritise data-informed guidance will win by offering customers a more unique, valuable point of view.
Teams Will Balance AI and Empathy
The rapid rise of artificial intelligence and the availability of data has created two extremes. Some teams have embraced the data flood and made decisions based purely based on analytics, while others have retreated and made choices based on intuition.
The year ahead will bring balance, as lessons learned help sales and marketing teams apply a combination of AI and human empathy to advance strategy. For example, a seller chooses to use an AI-recommended deck that her sales enablement tool surfaced. Before sending it, she customises several slides to ensure it is relevant for her prospect’s unique situation.
AI will continue to boost sellers’ productivity and effectiveness, but it will not replace human intelligence. In fact, in recent years, the boom of AI-driven technologies that allow sellers to be more efficient have also made the market even louder. Buyers have come to crave authentic connections. To cut through the noise, sales teams will need to focus on human-to-human conversations and building genuine relationships.
Looking back at the advancements of the last ten years, it’s exciting to imagine everything the next decade has in store. It all begins now as we charge into the new year — if you commit to customer experience, content alignment and guidance, and AI balanced with empathy, you’ll be off to a stellar start.