It’s an exciting time to be in business, with new techniques coming along every day. The rapid progress of technology is turning into equally-rapid changes to how we do business, meaning the field is wide open for nearly any company in any field to succeed. Those who can stay ahead of the curve by paying close attention to -and meeting - their customers’ wants and needs will be the ones who thrive. This can be especially important for those that rely on reaching the customer through their sales channel partners.
What strategies should you be adopting into your own sales ecosystem to keep up with the times while providing innovative solutions? Below are some of the trends we’re following closely here at LogicBay, and we'll continue to keep an eye on their impact in the world of B2B sales throughout 2017.
Six B2B Trends Likely To Be Game-Changers In 2017
1 – More Mobile, More Of The Time
Mobile browsing and research by B2B buyers continues to grow, so if you - or your channel partners - aren’t putting a serious focus on mobile-friendliness, consider that a top priority. A company that isn’t focusing on mobile is losing leads to those who are.
- Adaptive/Responsive websites that adjust themselves to fit the screen of whatever device a person is using.
- Local-focused SEO aimed at improving search presence within geographic areas.
- On-page web content which targets natural language keywords, because increasing number of users are relying on voice searches to find information.
- Mobile-friendly customer communications channels beyond the telephone, such as Skype video or Facebook\LinkedIn instant messaging.
Also, keep in mind that Google’s new rules penalizing businesses that use excessive pop-ups have now gone into effect. Make sure none of your web pages, or those of your partners, are still using pop-ups of the types that Google is targeting.
2 – Increased Use Of Marketing Automation
Marketing automation has been around as a concept for a couple years, and it’s slowly becoming both more robust and more affordable. At its most basic, marketing automation can take much of the burden off “routine” activities such as sending out emails to leads. These messages can be set up to drip-feed periodically from a pool of pre-written copy. At the higher end, marketing automation can do things like repurposing blogs as emails/social media posts, or utilizing highly customizable “mad-libs” style emails which are automatically tailored to specific leads based on their CRM database entries.
Marketing automation can be a great choice for indirect sales organizations in particular, because that’s something the vendor can handle as a means to generate more leads for their partners. You help inspire more sales, while making life easier for your partners. That’s a win-win.
3 – Video As A Primary Communications Tool
We are seeing more and more that visual content – particularly video – is becoming huge among buyers at all levels. Many marketers are now viewing online video as being more important than television. Online video through channels like YouTube brings nearly all the benefits of major TV ad buys, at a fraction of the cost, while being generally well-trusted by buyers and easily-sharable via social media.
Sales ecosystems which can establish repositories of quality “infotainment” mixing genuine help\advice with marketing messages will benefit greatly.
4 – Account Based Marketing
We spoke about this at greater length in a recent blog article. If there’s one technique we think is destined to see more success in 2017, it’s ABM. Account-Based Marketing is based on the idea of creating “markets of one” out of each of the top clients a business has, specifically to try to sell them more products/services. In practice, it’s extremely similar to other niche-based marketing efforts: Discover key players, understand their needs, and pitch custom solutions that meet those needs. However, the difference is that you’re targeting a particular company, looking at its mid- and upper-level managers, rather than targeting a city or demographic niche.
Since bringing in new clients – particularly medium-to-large scale businesses – is so expensive, ABM makes a lot of sense. It maximizes the revenue potential in the clients you already have.
5 – More Employment - And Targeting - Of SMEs
Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are exactly what they sound like. With so many areas of business becoming more complicated and specialized, C-levels are increasingly relying on SMEs to keep them informed on crucial matters like technology investment, consumer trends, and more. They’re also becoming seen more in marketing/sales departments, either advising on trends or serving as go-betweens with engineers and other highly-technical types of buyers.
In turn, this will mean a need for your sales channels to step up their information game. They’ll need to be better-trained on their products, and with more sources to draw upon for answering difficult questions. When selling to an SME, buffaloing them with bafflegab isn’t an option. The sales staff will have to at least appear to be experts themselves or risk losing credibility – and sales.
6 – Increased Use Of All-In-One Communications Tools
We were probably ahead of the curve when we decided to put a strong communications emphasis into our PRM platform. Business organizations are increasingly struggling with the need to utilize many different communications types during a day: phone, email, text/SMS, potentially video, and probably more. ANY solution which simplifies this, and puts more types of communication within one software suite, will be welcomed by workers at all levels while almost certainly bringing a significant productivity boost.
Whether you embrace this as part of the world’s premiere Partner Relationship Management software or look to another standalone solution, being able to simplify your partners’ communications would be a major selling point when recruiting/retaining partners.
What do you think? What trends are you seeing that will be shaking up B2B sales in 2017? Let us know, we'd love to hear your feedback.