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Businesses that adapt the fastest survive. Sitting back and admiring a job well done for too long is a recipe for disaster. You only need to look at BHS and Staples as examples of high profile retailers that went bust in 2016 because of a failure to keep up with the times. To an inquisitive mind, this raises the question: what sales trends are developing now that will affect my business in the immediate future?

1. Sales and content marketing are now two parts of the same whole

If you think about the typical buying process, the research phase is something most consumers take great care over. According to recent research, 82% of customers conduct research online before completing a purchase. And what are they typically searching for? Content that addresses fears and reinforces their initial intent to buy into your product or service in the first place.

What this means for your business

To create the perfect synergy between sales and content marketing, you need to produce content that answers your customers’ concerns and adds value. The single most-viewed page of content on your website is likely to be the homepage. Despite this, the Content Marketing Institute found that the homepage of many B2B software companies doesn’t adequately convey buyer pain, fear of loss and personal benefits. If this sound like your business, it might be time for a rethink.

2. Video before anything else    

This infographic covering video marketing statistics makes for interesting reading. It reveals that 90% of consumers find product videos useful in the buying process and 75% of executives watch work-related videos on business websites at least once a week. As a source of valuable content to address issues and answer questions, video’s popularity is growing massively.

What this means for your business

We’ve become a society of viewers rather than readers. From explainer videos and product tutorials to FAQs and testimonials, videos help drive leads, convert sales and achieve major business objectives. When creating a content marketing strategy to support sales, this means you should be taking a video before anything else approach.

3. Bricks and mortar stores will add more value

Not so long ago bricks and mortar stores only existed to showcase products and facilitate the final point-of-sale. Then e-commerce came along, and for a while it looked like high street retailers were set to go the same way as the dinosaurs. Fast forward to today and retailers can no longer just rely on e-commerce to maintain market share. Consequently, bricks and mortar stores are enjoying a new lease of life by adding value through on-hand expertise and personalised experiences.

What this means for your business

Previously online only retailers such as Amazon and Google recently opened brick and mortar stores to support their e-commerce operations. This is a concrete sign that retailers can boost sales and improve customer loyalty by offering differentiated in-store experiences. And the best way to so this? By gearing up to offer add value through the kind of on-hand expertise and personalised experiences consumers can’t find by solely shopping online.

4. The unstoppable rise of the digital assistant

You’re probably familiar with at least one of Apple Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana or Amazon Alexa. The truth is that people are now more comfortable than ever talking to a machine. And the increasing number of people leaning on digital assistants to help manage their lives will affect how they research and buy products.

What this means for your business

Which digital assistants your customers use will have different implications on how they shop. Naturally, Amazon’s device will default to their product pages and reviews and vice versa for Google. Getting ahead of these developments now will help your business adapt to the forthcoming changes in your customers’ buying journeys before it’s too late.

5. Mobile apps will continue to boost loyalty

We are smartphone addicts. A report by Deloitte published by the BBC indicates that four out of five UK adults now own a smartphone. At the same time, Bloomberg reports 2016 saw smartphones overtake desktops as the number one source of ecommerce traffic. Why we persist calling them phones is a mystery to many; they’re more like a one-stop facilitator for all our retail needs, and the increasing popularity of mobile payments and loyalty apps reflects this.

What this means for your business

A few years ago, Starbucks successfully launched its mobile payment app. Integrated with a loyalty programme, this has allowed the coffee giant to collect valuable customer data and provide a customised and fully tailored experience. In the age of the customer, loyalty apps and streamlined payment services are giving people more of what they want. Retailers that don’t jump on the bandwagon are in danger of getting left behind.

6. Sales reps will need to become more tech-savvy

During the past few years, a wide range of technologies have been developed to help make the life of sales professionals easier. Saleforce’s AppExchange is home to over 3,000 apps, of which over 40% have the sole purpose of making sales teams function more effectively. Meanwhile, at NewVoiceMedia, our ContactWorld for Sales solution, which integrates with Salesforce, includes a huge range of features that support collaboration between sales teams.

What this means for your business

Although traditional sales training is still valuable, new technologies have revolutionised the skill set required of sales reps. To keep ahead of the game, businesses will need to invest more in training for digital selling strategies. These include social media training, virtual selling techniques, remote presentations and any additional new technologies set to drive the success of both inside and field sales teams.

So, there you have it: six revealing sales trends for 2017 and what they mean for your business. To learn even more about taking your sales strategy to the next level, take a look at NewVoiceMedia’s white paper "How to double discovery calls and demonstrations in 30 days or less."

Which trend do you think will have the biggest impact on the success of your business? Share your thoughts below.

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About Nicola Brookes

Nicola is corporate communications director at NewVoiceMedia. She will mostly blog about customer service, industry news, events and company updates. Follow Nicola on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbrookespr

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