Just as iPhones advance with each model and fashion varies by season, sales trends are also ever-evolving. In 2019, the spotlight shines on omni-channel selling for each generation of consumers and artificial intelligence (AI) working alongside salespeople. There is also an increased focus on sales enablement and the telecommuting workforce.
Selling to Gen X and Millennials
Rather than sell to a mass audience, marketers are learning to target specific generations and their values. Generation X and millennials (also known as Gen Y) each carry unique beliefs. Knowing these views will help you better relate and engage your audience and close more deals.
The people that fall into Gen X were born between the early to mid-1960s and early ’80s. They grew up during the MTV era and became adults when the internet was created. Think The Breakfast Club, Back to the Future and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Gen X is the group that came after the baby boomers but before the millennials. Today, Gen X individuals are parents and homeowners in their late 30s or early 40s.
Generation X is often referred to as the skeptics. They are usually distrusting of information, partly because of the rise of computers and the internet which brought an oversaturation of data. When selling to Gen X, it’s best to keep things simple, honest and straightforward. Email marketing is a popular choice for reaching Gen X. However, Gen Xers are also highly adept online. About 80% of Generation X are present on social media including Facebook and Twitter, so use social engagement to reach them and raise awareness of your brand.
This generation also loves great deals – but more specifically, great value. Offering coupons or special deals will likely have a positive effect on Gen X leads. Explaining the value of your product and why it’s worth the money will be even more impactful. Gen Xers aren’t afraid to spend money. In fact, they spend more money than millennials. Gen X individuals prioritize the worth of a product and are willing to spend money if it’s worth it.
Millennials (aka Generation Y)
You’ve probably heard this term thrown around in nearly every conversation regarding sales and marketing. We live in the age of the millennial. These individuals were born between 1981 and 1999 and were the ones responsible for the rise in popularity of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and even Yelp and Rotten Tomatoes. Millennials are between their early 20s and mid-30s. They make up 35% of the American workforce and have an annual buying power of $200 billion.
When it comes to selling to millennials, social media is truly king. Millennials are highly influenced by their peers and are more likely to respond to a social media post, friend’s recommendation or online review than a traditional commercial on TV. Millennials want ads that are personalized and interactive. Offering social media content and online check-ins are simple ways to get millennials to interact with your business.
Millennials have had a large impact in leading social movements such as #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo. They demand social change with their purchases. This has led to increased attention on ethical and sustainable brands. Authenticity is key. Succeeding in selling to millennials means focusing on touching hearts rather than pulling from wallets.
While each generation differs in philosophy, the common thread between Gen X and Y is the need for an omni-channel selling approach through social media. You need to be able to seamlessly transition your shopping experience between web and mobile as well as social media to web. With programs such as Staccato Social, you can train your sales team to effectively use social media as a selling tool for Gen X and millennials.
Artificial Intelligence and Sales
AI has changed the nature of the sales industry with data analysis, predictive selling and lead generation. While the current fear is that AI will replace salespeople, this fear is unwarranted. AI is a helpful counterpart, not a replacement, to salespeople. In fact, AI is predicted to create 2 million jobs by 2020 and an additional 2 million jobs by 2025.
The big selling point of AI is its ability to input and read large amounts of data. Salespeople no longer have to waste valuable time with minute data entry. Salespeople also don’t have to gather data for analysis. AI has the capability to organize customer data to the point of making predictions on future buying patterns. This frees up salespeople and marketers to act upon the data rather than go through the effort of first researching customer behavior patterns.
AI can effectively estimate answers to questions such as “Who are my most valuable customers?” and “How much am I going to sell in the next quarter?” AI can also generate leads for salespeople. Software such as FRONTLINE Selling’s Staccato Suite of Solutions can reduce your sales cycle by enabling you to more effectively navigate through target accounts, find your decision-maker and start the sales process.
AI has largely influenced customer service through chatbots. Instead of talking to an agent over the phone, chatbots can answer customers’ basic questions or concerns online or over the phone. For example, Amazon’s chatbots are able to answer customers’ questions regarding purchases, returns and shipments and attempt to solve logistical problems. These online chatbots allow Amazon live agents to focus on more complex customer problems.
In 2016, 43% of the American workforce spent some time working remotely. The number of days people work out of the office per week also increased. It’s become more and more accepted for employees to work remotely – whether that’s at home, in a café or from a library.
Working remotely has shown to boost morale and efficiency. It also can decrease an employer’s operating costs. The industries with the highest proportion of remote workers include transportation, computer/tech, art/design and finance.
In addition to working from home, videoconferencing and training have become much easier to complete remotely. Skype, Highfive and UberConference allow telecommuters to easily join a meeting from anywhere. Training software can also be completed virtually and offer everything from call simulators to virtual coaches.
Sales Enablement Technology
Sales enablement is the process of providing your sales team with the proper training, practice, resources and technology to become better salespeople. In 2019, team leaders are focusing on sales enablement so that their employees are better equipped to close more deals at a faster rate.
According to a study, it takes at least 10 months for a sales representative to become fully productive. Sales enablement content and resources reduce that time. It also allows you to analyze any current weaknesses in your sales team and processes. By understanding where your team is underachieving, you can adapt your sales enablement training and support to focus on these specific areas.
Sales enablement is beneficial because it exposes your team to current trends. For example, if your sales team has solely focused on cold calling, providing sales enablement for social selling can help enhance your outreach methods. Sales enablement puts each of your employees on the same level. By offering each individual the same training, everyone is given the foundation and opportunity to improve sales.
To excel in sales, you have to understand your customer. In 2019, this means implementing social selling in an omni-channel format. It means analyzing your customers’ purchasing behaviors, making shopping easier with AI and supporting your growing telecommuting workforce with sales enablement. Get started on adapting to 2019’s sales trends with Staccato Sales Solutions.