With only a few months left in 2016, you should be thinking about key B2B trends in 2017 and how they can help you boost B2B sales.
Focusing now on how things will change in 2017 gives your sales team a leg up on the competition when it comes to boosting brand reputation and dominating your industry.
Below are some trends to keep an eye on in 2017 and some tips on how you can use them to increase B2B sales in the coming year.Many of the items below are improvements on 2016 B2B sales and marketing trends. Some focus on improving consumer experiences. Others zero in on returning to the basics of B2B selling. But all will drive sales in 2017.
- Create written strategies
Do you have a basic written strategy that your B2B sales, lead generation, and marketing teams follow? Is it their own or the company's? Increasing numbers of companies will be using written strategies in 2017.
Why? Because the way your content production or marketing leadership teams think about sales pitches and product information could be costing you sales.
Forced sales techniques can stunt a sales person's growth. A written strategy, on the other hand, helps each person on your team develop their own way of selling and marketing that works for them.
That's important. Your customers may like one representative better than another simply because of his or her approach. So allow for some individuality among team members and watch your team members’ goals be met faster and sales numbers increase in 2017.
- Increase email marketing efforts
Email marketing isn't dead. Sure, some B2B companies downplayed email marketing to focus more on social media, digital marketing, and video content creation in 2016. But ignoring e-mail is a mistake.
Email marketing is still effective. And it will always be one of the best ways to make sales, market new products, and generate sales leads. On average, properly created email marketing campaigns can yield a 4,300-percent return on investment.
How effective has email marketing been in B2B sales in the past? According to Regalix’s 2015 State of B2B Marketing report, 71% of B2B marketers said that email was effective for accomplishing their marketing goals in 2014.
- Focus more on online sales
Person-to-person sales will become less relevant by the year 2020, according to projections by some industry experts. That being said, businesses need to start providing consumers with more online, self-purchasing options.
Consumers and businesses prefer to place orders themselves rather than have sales reps place orders for them over the phone or in person with a representative.
B2B sales staff, lead generators, and marketers are still needed. But the number of sales representatives that you'll have in the future is likely to drop due to the increase in the self-services being offered online. Don't get caught flat-footed.
- Spend more time/money on social media marketing
Social media interaction should be a focal point in 2017. Social media networks are a major avenue for customers to learn about updates on brands, products, or services in the B2B arena.
So include money for social media in your marketing budget and don't skimp. The average social media user checks his or her account at least three times per day looking for updates and new information.
Sponsored social media ads require payment, but are good investments. Also, assign someone in your company to interact with your social media marketing audience. A simple “like” or reaction to a comment, shared post, or posted review makes an impact.
- Maximize the use of content you produce
B2B companies tend to use only about 30-percent of the content they produce. All that unused content just sits there taking up space.
Instead, take each piece of content and figure out how to re-use it, then publish it. The more content you publish, the more informed and interested your target audience becomes.
This marketing tactic draws more attention to your brand and can help leads come to you, rather than your lead generation team hunting them down.
- Create social media big data algorithms
Do you know how well your digital content is performing? If not, your missing a great opportunity to boost your content's impact and generate sales.
So create custom algorithms to review specific sets of data that show how different pieces of content are performing across a multitude of channels.
The data provided by your algorithms will help you make changes to your strategy and your content that will help increase sales numbers.
- Validate the need for a sales team
B2B companies will continue to look for opportunities to cut sales team members over the next several years. To keep your team intact, you're going to have to work hard to prove that salespeople are still needed.
No better way exists to sell a product or service than to have person-to-person interaction, human-powered demonstrations, and real people talking about a product or service.
Consider having a staff meeting with your B2B sales, lead generation, and marketing teams to discuss changes that capitalize on these 2017 trends that can help you boost sales
Provide examples and statistics to show them how these improvements and changes can help them improve sales numbers, retain more clients, and generate more leads.
Then develop strategies that will help you take advantage of these changes. And remember that creating content and marketing will always be a priority because it will always be necessary and because of its impact on target audiences.
What key trends do you see occurring in 2017 and how do you plan to take advantage of them?