With 2015 drawing to a close, we’ve compiled a list of our sales enablement predictions for 2016.
Our Predictions for 2016 see greater investment in inbound strategies across the board. With the high adoption rate of content marketing in a number of industries, we believe that the buyer will now expect to see these kinds of value-added services during any decision journey process. Any lagging industries and companies will be forced into the fold by a more conditioned buyer. Multichannel mobility gaps still persist, but this year could see a clear division of best practices, and case studies for many to follow. These trends should see sales enablement grow as an essential business support tool for B2B sales, and perhaps even B2C in specific industries like P&C insurance.
Earlier this month we also discussed how to create a stronger sales enablement strategy in 2016. In case you missed that post you can find it here.
And without further ado, let’s ring in the New Year!
(Source: HRE Online, 2010)
1. Mobile Sales Applications to Become a Necessity in 2016
Mobile sales applications are not only becoming popular amongst sales reps, but with prospects as well. This year, “47% of marketers cited meeting the demands of today’s sophisticated customers to be a challenge” (Source: Salesforce Research, 2015). We predict that mobile sales apps will become a necessity in the New Year because they allow you to deliver the right content at the right time, anywhere, which enhances your sales and marketing processes. If you’re not using or planning to use mobile sales apps you may want to reconsider for 2016.
Why will mobile sales apps be a necessity? The proof is in the numbers. According to Hubspot, “70% of executives in sales organizations using tablets are already reporting increased sales” (Source: Hubspot, 2015). With well over half of mobile sales application users happy with the results, mobile sales applications are revolutionizing the traditional sales meeting.
According to Sales Force, those using or planning to use a mobile sales application are expected to be quite high this coming year. Reportedly, “high performers are 2x as likely as underperformers to use or have plans to use a mobile sales application” (Source: Salesforce Research, 2015). Out of all the best-in-class respondents surveyed, “nearly 60% of high-performing sales teams already use or are planning to use a mobile sales application” (Source: Salesforce Research, 2015). If you haven’t already, you might want to consider making mobile sales applications a necessity for 2016.
Not sure how mobile sales applications will help you in 2016? You may find our post, “Mobile Sales Enablement: How will Tablets Enhance Your Marketing?” to be of interest.
2. Greater Reliance on Sales Analytics in 2016
Using sales analytics software tracks your marketing efforts and leads. It also gives insight into your buyer’s decision journey, their persona, and how receptive they are to your content. Need any more reasons to use sales analytic software?
Studies show that “high performing sales teams are 3.5x more likely to use sales analytics than under performing teams” (Source: Salesforce Research, 2015). This statistic doesn’t surprise us. When you’re paying close attention to data and analytics, it’s easier to determine the areas in which you need to improve.
In 2016, we also predict that integrating your current CRM system with sales enablement will become increasingly necessary. Combining your CRM with sales analytic software beefs up your data mining technology, and allows more insight into how to effectively compete in the marketplace (Source: Destination CRM, 2015).
The primary reason we predict this sales analytic software reliance boom is that many companies have already decided that it will be vital to their sales process in 2016. Reportedly, “74% of sales leaders are using or piloting/planning to use sales analytics in the next 12-18 months” (Source: Salesforce Research, 2015).
Combining your CRM with sales analytic software will be increasingly valuable in the New Year. To learn more, may I suggest our post, “How to Leverage the CRM System for Predictive Sales Enablement”.
3. Content More Focused on Personalized Messaging in 2016
An emerging trend we saw this year was the need for marketers and sales reps to personalize content towards their prospects. The need for personalization stems from two areas: the buyer’s decision journey and the newly empowered buyer.
Content Tailored for the Decision Journey
This year, “68% of best-in-class performers reported that they always focus on their processes to align content with key stages of the buyer’s decision journey” (Source: Aberdeen Research, 2015). We predict that aligning content to the decision journey will become even more important in 2016. Aligning content towards the buyer’s decision journey stage not only delivers the right information at the right time, it helps accelerate the decision journey.
After surveying B2B buyers, Forrester concluded that, “70% of the content that buyers engage with prior to making a purchase decision is self-discovered, as opposed to being provided by a sales rep” (Source: KnowledgeTree, 2015). Getting your sales reps to guide your prospects through their decision journey by presenting them targeted content early on in the sales process will help them progress faster through the sales funnel (Source: KnowledgeTree, 2015).
Personalized messaging is all about persuasion and value-added communications. To learn more about why current sales training and communications miss the mark on persuasiveness, and some tips to maxamize motivation among sales reps, click the link below to download a FREE copy of our eBook.
Content Designed with the Empowered Buyer In Mind
Empowered buyers don’t want to feel like they’re being sold to. They want to feel like the companies they do business with understand their problems. As a result, we predict that personalized messaging will become an important part of the sales strategy. Due to the nature of the industry, “it is estimated that consumers are exposed to as many as 3,000 to 5,000 marketing messages in a single day” (Source: Single Grain, 2015). Creating personalized messages will become extremely important in the New Year if you want to break through the marketing clutter and reach your audience. Prospects are most likely to engage with content that speaks directly to them.
When asked about top strategic priorities to improve sales performance long term, “61% of best-in-class performers said that improving differentiation in messaging to tell a better, more unique story personalized for each prospect/customer” was among their top 3 (Source: Aberdeen Research, 2015). Personalized content will not only be required by your buyers in 2016, but also by your sales reps. Salespeople recognize the importance of personalized content. Chances are if you’re not already making an effort to personalize your content, your sales reps are.
Research shows that “67% of sales reps say that they avoid using content created by marketing because it is too generic, while 40% say they avoid using it because it is not relevant to the buyer” (Source: Lattice Engines, 2013). Personalizing content in the New Year helps both your marketing and sales teams be more productive. If your sales reps are throwing away your marketing materials due to a lack of personalization, and in turn spending more time creating materials than selling, neither team is benefiting.
Want to learn more about empowered buyers and how to tailor your content for them in the New Year? You may find our post, “How an Empowered Buyer Impacts the Sales Process”, to be of interest.
4. Increased Emphasis on Improving Content Marketing in 2016
If you’ve familiar with our blog, you know that we’ve had numerous discussions around content marketing this year. Content marketing has a number of benefits for your sales process as it provides value to the buyer, has better reach, and tends to have lower associated costs (if you’re interested in learning about more benefits of content marketing, you can find them here). We predict that in the New Year, even more of an emphasis will be placed on improving content marketing strategies.
We based this prediction off the fact that this year, “only 44% of marketers surveyed said they have clarity on content marketing success” (Source: Marketing Charts, 2015). Achieving content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight, and for most, it requires trial and error.; however, if you want highly competitive content marketing material, improving your strategies and having clarity is essential for 2016.
With so much content produced daily, it’s hard to ensure that content reaches your audience. We analyze tactics used by the most successful content marketers in our post, “Top 3 Tactics used by Best-in-Class Digital Content Marketers”.
Visual Content Will Run Content Marketing Strategies in the New Year
This year we also saw visual content strategies trending. In 2016 we believe that there will be a much greater emphasis on visual content. When you think about it, 40% of people respond better to images (Source: TNW News, 2014). It only makes sense to generate content that audiences are more likely to respond to. From images to videos, to live streaming social media applications, we predict that 2016 will be the year for visual digital content.
Pushing through the content clutter is becoming harder each day as the amount of content on the internet multiplies. As text content becomes more and more saturated, audiences will demand content that is more visual in nature (Source: Forbes, 2015). According to Sprout Worth, this year “20% of marketers found visual content to be 3x more effective than text” (Source: Sprout Worth, 2015). The internet and communications technology have allowed us to have any information we want, whenever we want. Prospects no longer have the patience to sift through your content, they want faster and more instant forms of communication (Source: Forbes, 2015). As a result, we predict that prospects will be moving away from text-based sources of information and towards faster and more instantaneous visual forms of communication such as videos and infographics.
Did you know that you process images differently than text? We give the full scoop in our post, “The Science Behind Visually Appealing Digital Content Marketing”.
5. Screen Sharing will Revolutionize how Sales Reps Interact with Buyers in 2016
Screen sharing technology has begun to pop-up in the sales enablement industry, and we are predicting that it will forever change the way sales reps communicate with prospects. Screen sharing tools allow your company to host a sales presentation or meeting online with clients that are remote (Source: Mikogo, 2015). Your hard to reach customers will become even more accessible and your sales rep’s schedule, more flexible in 2016. Aside from saving travel costs, screen sharing has many other benefits that will be transforming the traditional sales call in the New Year including visual learning, and relationship building.
As we mentioned above, visual content has a number of great benefits as it is processed differently than text. About 65% of the world’s population are visual learners (Source: Mikogo, 2015). Using a screen sharing tool allows sharing of PowerPoint presentations, videos, images, product demonstration, etc. Screen sharing will allow these prospects to learn about your product in a way they can interpret easily (Source: Mikogo, 2015).
We predict that screen sharing tools will be popular in the New Year given the ability to build stronger relationships with prospects. Sales reps can sell at virtually any time because screen sharing is instantaneous. Companies have the ability to visually walk customers through portions of a sales call, better answer any questions they may have, and use other interpersonal tactics to provide a service that is more personable and intimate (Source: Intelligent HQ, 2015).
2016 already looks like it is shaping up to be an exciting year for the sales enablement. We’re very excited to see what this year has in store!
Interested in making some of your own predictions? In our eBook below we detail several trends influencing sales and marketing, and offer some best practices to postiion for success in the upcoming year. Click the link below to download a FREE copy of the eBook and test our suggestions against your own thoughts.