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3 Important Sales Trends & Predictions for 2015


Here are three trends I see in the sales world, paired with predictions on where those trends will take us. I welcome any feedback in the comments, or via Twitter at @davemacboston.

TREND #1: Content Fatigue / Focus

We’ve learned our lesson that so-called snackable content does not create any value, and all those empty content calories are killing the platforms that previously served as places to identify compelling new ideas. Twitter used to be rich with rewarding content, but now I have to scroll for several minutes before I find anything worth dipping into. And LinkedIn blogging went from sharp and provocative to “look at me” noisy in less than a year.

B2B sales and marketing leaders will need to decide whether they’re going to invest in content creation as a way to make noise or as a way to add value for customers.

In terms of the social activity of sales reps, it’s worth noting that being good and thoughtful curators of content allows individual reps to help advance their organization’s content marketing goals.

TREND #2: Tool Explosion / Integration

Sales folks can’t keep up with all of today’s promising new tools. This has happened for good reasons -- we’ve had a cycle of innovation that created a wonderful divergence of sales enablement and sales acceleration products.

At the same time, the rapid growth of B2B inside sales has given reps a reason to adopt tools for increasingly surgical use cases, as we try to replicate the fine-grained sophistication of real human interaction in order to connect with and move our remote buyers.

So the availability of all these new tools is a good thing -- except that teams have a limited capacity to test and adopt them. We’ll see this reconciled in three ways. Software vendors will find ways to improve the UX specifically for validation & testing. Also, they’ll increase their emphasis on integrating their products with the products sales teams are already using. Finally, the market will help to solve this problem; we’ll see a lot of mergers and acquisitions this year that bring together adjacent technologies, like lightweight screensharing and synchronous, in-browser video chat.

TREND #3: Inbound Lead Conversion / Complementarity

According to The Content Marketing Institute, 86% of B2B companies invest in content marketing. At Vsnap, we estimate that those marketers create some three and a half million inbound leads a week. But when you talk with sales leaders, they tell you they’re living with miniscule conversion rates -- often as low as 2%.

This situation can’t sustain. Why? Because in an already noisy world, Marketing can’t expect to keep capturing more high-quality leads just by turning up the volume. The path to growth has to become about converting more Marketing Qualified Leads.

But how will that happen? Through complementarity.

That’s Peter Thiel’s word, not mine. He talks about it in his recent book Zero To One:

“As computers become more and more powerful, they won’t be substitutes for humans: they’ll be complements…. Complementarity between computers and humans isn’t just a macro-scale fact. It’s also the path to building a great business.”

Complementarity is the key to turning more leads into live conversations so that you can get them to close. On their own, marketing automation tools will only ever capture the lowest hanging fruit. We get maximum leverage in our customer acquisition process when we use technology for what it’s good for, then pair that with humans doing emotion-based jobs, like interacting with qualified leads.

We can see complementarity in tools such as 1-to-1 video, where the technology allows a seller to come across as authentically human -- to convey tone and establish trust with a remote buyer, and we measure the impact in how that increases close rates as compared to email. Another example is the next generation of CRMs, -- like RelateIQ, Pipeliner CRM, and the new HubSpot CRM -- that proactively surface data in ways that enhance reps’ understanding of specific prospects.

What trends have you noticed this year, and how will those affect the future of sales? Please share in the comments!

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About the Author   |   Dave McLaughlin

Dave McLaughlin is CEO & Co-Founder of Vsnap. Previously, Dave Co-founded mobile payments startup Fig Card, which was acquired by PayPal in 2011. Dave is also an award-winning filmmaker that has written for and/or directed stars such as Will Arnett, Donnie Wahlberg, Amanda Peet and Amy Poehler.

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