The sales technology space is growing at such a rate that tools like chatbots, analytics, and more can now be leveraged by even the smallest of companies. Technological trends impact all companies, but can be especially transformative and beneficial for smaller businesses to follow because it can help them stand out from local competitors.
We’ve put together a list of some of the most important sales tech trends going on in 2019.
1. Data-driven Sales Strategies
There was a time when processing raw customer data to gain valuable insights was reserved only for large enterprises that could afford the technology and the staff to make sense of such data. However, the rise in analytic software technology has made it possible for even the smallest organizations to process and contextualize mass amounts of data.
For example, Pipedrive allows you to gather data from a wide range of sources, including a .csv file so that you can import data from an Excel spreadsheet. From there, you can turn this data into charts, graphs, and other visualizations to help you better understand your sales operations. You can then use that information to make better sales and marketing decisions in the future.
Pipedrive also offers a pipeline view that helps you track deals visually by stage. The stages are customizable, so the information can be arranged in a variety of ways to make the best possible sales decisions for your company.
Most of the largest and most successful companies use data analytics to understand everything about their sales operations. Having a dashboard of your current sales, projects, and other factors gives you the visibility your small business needs to make sure you are reaching goals and doing enough for the wealth of the company. For more information on analytics software, check out our analytics software reviews page.
2. Using Chatbots to Close Deals
If you have recently visited a website for a product or service, you have likely noticed that a chat window pops up in the corner of your screen, inviting you to learn more information. These messages are automated but will later connect you with a representative should you choose to interact with it. This is known as a chatbot. These systems are being used by businesses small and large to start more conversations with prospects and ultimately close more deals.
Chatbots are becoming popular because of their convenience to customers. Not only that, but many chatbots ask visitors for their name, email address, and phone number. This information can then be entered into your customer relationship management (CRM) system so that they become prospects in your sales pipeline instantly. Therefore, you can grow your list of leads quickly and easily.
Chatbot services like Freshchat are both powerful enough to help you foster relationships with your audience and affordable enough for even the most modest of small organizations. Not only that, but they can also give your company a more professional, established business presence over your competitors. Check out our guide to chatbots to learn more.
3. The Rise of Digital Collaboration
For many years, sales teams have used email, short message service (SMS), and telephones to work together while in different locations. While all of these methods are still effective, they are being replaced quickly by team chat platforms like Slack that allow for powerful chat, audio conferencing, and even file sharing functionality over the internet. These sales tech solutions are vital tools for many businesses and are becoming an essential part of how salespeople work.
In basic terms, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and their competitors allow users to have either team-wide, group, or one-on-one text chats with one another on mobile and desktop devices. However, what makes these services effective is that they can connect data with Salesforce, Google Drive, and other tools popular with salespeople. For example, you can pull up a prospect’s info from Salesforce right into your chat window with a coworker.
While Slack is by far the most popular of these systems, there are other valuable competitors on the market. Microsoft Teams comes for free with business versions of Office 365 and offers native integration with Word and Excel. Even Discord, a similar platform designed for multiplayer video gaming, has found use among some work teams because it is free and offers easy group calling features. Learn more by reading our guide to Slack alternatives.
4. Social Selling & Beyond
Every individual customer has their own preferred method of communication. While many people enjoy talking over the phone, many would rather send a text message or email instead. Some may even prefer to communicate over Twitter or Facebook. One of the biggest sales tech challenges teams face today is having to market to users across all of these channels at once.
Cold calling is not as effective as it was in the past. Many consumers today do not enjoy being disturbed by unknown callers. Therefore, salespeople can no longer rely on it. Many sales platforms, including CRMs like Pipedrive, have grown to allow you to track prospects over email, text, or other channels. This also includes social media or self-service modules on company websites and customer helplines.
Omnichannel selling is a sales tech trend because modern consumers all have their own particular preference as to what mediums they use most. There are several tools to help you effectively close deals via all of these channels. Mailchimp, for instance, allows you to automate and test marketing content sent over email. Other services, like Hootsuite, offer tools for making better sales collateral for social media channels.
It is more important than ever to become proficient in selling in many different mediums. Large enterprises have dedicated teams for each channel, but you can cover your bases with just a handful of software solutions. We recommend reading our guide to email marketing systems as well as our roundup of the best SMS marketing tools.
5. GDPR, CCPA & Other Privacy Regulations
When the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect in 2018, it caused a stir in the business world. In basic terms, GDPR decrees that any company that gathers data on an EU resident has to ask for consent before collecting information. It also prevents companies from storing un-secured unique identifiers on users, like names and email addresses. Violating this law can cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
GDPR affects any company that gathers the data of an EU resident, so it made an impact on businesses all over the world. Additionally, California has a similar law known as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), that is going into effect on January 1, 2020. Like GDPR, CCPA will apply to any business that gathers information on a California resident, even if the business itself is located elsewhere.
California is only the beginning. At the time of this writing, lawmakers in Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, and Rhode Island are working to pass similar laws. More states are expected to follow suit. It would be wise of any small business owner with an online presence to get familiar with these laws and to make sure all new or existing sales software is regulation-compliant.
6. Unified Marketing & Sales
For many years, marketing and sales were seen as two distinct roles within a company. The marketing team would come up with ideas to attract customers, while salespeople would reach out to prospects to make deals. Changing consumer habits and technological advancements have allowed professionals to perform both tasks at once, often within the same application.
Take Mailchimp, for example. That service lets you design email marketing content, share it with your mailing list, and track the performance of those contents. These would traditionally fall under marketing tasks. However, Mailchimp also integrates with Salesforce, so that you can import your list of prospects into the software and also view Mailchimp campaign activity within Salesforce.
Because of this connection, the workers who are creating content with Mailchimp can reach out to sales leads. In turn, Salespeople can track email marketing activity from within their app. Most important, both systems are easy enough to use that designing campaigns, tracking the sales pipeline, and making sales can ultimately be done by the same person.
In summary, sales technology has made it easier than ever for marketing and sales operations to be aligned with one another. Having the two processes so intertwined can help drive more cohesive marketing campaigns with a singular voice. It also saves small businesses the trouble of having to hire both dedicated sales and marketing staff.
7. Mobile-first Sales Teams
As of 2019, smartphones are incredibly powerful devices. Whether you choose an Android or iOS handset, mobile devices are faster, more intuitive, and capable of running all sorts of applications than ever before. As such, sales solutions have become so robust on mobile platforms that many workers are choosing to work almost entirely with mobile devices. This is especially true for representatives who travel to visit clients regularly.
Part of the reason for this is that smartphones have become powerful enough to become complete computers on their own. For example, Google’s Pixel 3a handset is considered a mid-range option. However, it has more memory, a faster processor, and a better display than an expensive PC workstation had just 10 years ago. Not only that, but a smartphone is much more portable than a laptop and comes with SMS and phone functionality.
As hardware has advanced, developers of smartphone applications have upgraded their solutions. A CRM like Pipedrive, for instance, offers a mobile app with all of the core functions of the desktop version. Not only that, but it even offers additional features, like letting you locate nearby contacts or using ready-made email templates to reschedule meetings.
There will always be workers that prefer the large screen and power of a dedicated PC or Mac device, but the mobile phone has become an incredibly vital part of a salesperson’s toolset. As mobile phones become more advanced, this trend will only grow. Best of all, most business apps now offer a mobile device free of charge, so your team can go mobile immediately. Check out our guide to mobile CRM apps for more information.
What Is Sales Tech?
As its name implies, sales tech refers to any technology that helps salespeople close deals. This can mean a CRM service that is designed with sales in mind. CRMs help you manage prospects through a sales pipeline effectively. Other sales tech tools include analytic dashboards that visualize your sales data, software for creating email campaigns, and even tools as basic text messaging.
Bottom Line: Sales Tech Trends
Sales technology tools are designed to help you close more deals and better foster business relationships. There is so much talk about trends and developments that it can seem almost impossible to distinguish between meaningful insights and fads. However, we find that newer trends, like analytics, chatbots, and sales marketing synergy are here to stay and will impact the way sales teams work for many years to come.