By Erin Sherbert, Content Marketing Manager, Salesforce
It’s that time of the year again — the time when you can spike your eggnog at the office and probably get away with it. It’s also that time of the year when you start reflecting on all the things you’ve accomplished — or have not accomplished — over the the last 365 days.
While we do love our eggnog over here, we’re not much for dwelling on the past. So instead of looking back, we decided to take a gander at what’s ahead, especially as it relates to sales and marketing.
We spoke to a handful of small business leaders across different industries who offered up some quirky (and very useful) marketing and sales predictions. Hopefully, this will give you something to think about in the New Year.
1. Analytics Will Replace Squishy, Feel-Good Branding …
Sales roles will become more specialized than ever in 2016. Sales leaders will rapidly begin adapting organizational models, processes, and sales enablement technologies to drive sales velocity and efficiencies.
Marketing departments will continue to become less dependent on quantifying the value they are delivering to the organization based upon squishy, feel-good branding efforts and they will be even more driven to leverage data and analytics across all marketing channels. This will include the use of mobile to drive quality leads and analytics from offline activities like events.
- Russ Hearl | Vice President, Mid-Market Sales @ DoubleDutch
2. A Great Sense of Humor Will Go a Long Way…
1. Donald Trump will elect himself King of the United States, and CEO of all SaaS companies simultaneously.
2. Direct mail will make a triumphant return as the #1 marketing medium
3. People will stop saying “Best” at the end of every f***ing email
4. Uber will roll out their new “Uber Inside Sales Teams” where you can request an out-of-work salesperson to show up at your office with ice cream and sing songs
5. Beats by Dr. Dre will introduce a new line of headphones designed for telemarketers called the “Beats Turds.”
Chris Ostoich, Co-Founder, LISNR
3. Improvement Will Top Innovation…
There is little doubt that we will continue to see sales and marketing refine itself more around e-commerce. The companies that are going to come out on top are those that heavily invest in analytics. The Internet is a wonderful place in that it provides a lot of power to virtually all users. For companies, though, it can be a blessing and a curse, because while it can serve as a catalyst between customers and supplying customer demand, it also removes competitive barriers to entry that historically protected larger companies from grassroots competition. Companies like Walmart, Best Buy, FedEx and UPS, weren’t threatened 10 years ago by small entities. Now, in this entrepreneurial age, people/businesses are using the Internet of Things to solve real problems, often as they relate to demand. Everyone is taking an idea and making it better and most of the innovation we see is less about who “creates” the next big thing and more about who makes the next big improvement relative to how we get the things that are already out there. Therein lies the brilliant engagement between analytics and e-commerce. What I’m trying to say is that while the company that “made books digital” undoubtedly will do well, it’s the company that figures out how to meet delivery demand via sales and marketing that will revolutionize commerce.
- Brandon Staton, Marketing & Public Relations Manager, Transportation Impact
4. New Business Buzzword: Growth…
1. Companies will keep evolving beyond single purpose SaaS and continue to grow as platforms/marketplaces for marketing and user engagement. The winners will be the ones with the most complete customer data profile.
2. The lines will continue to blur between marketing vs sales and “Growth” will be adopted as a new umbrella term, with more formal splits between acquisition vs retention. Specific job functions won’t drastically change (sales, marketing, etc.), but professionals with specified roles will need to navigate the dynamics of a holistic view of growth, and leverage technology/tools across many verticals. e.g. Sales reps will need to understand where their leads are coming from through analytics; Inbound marketers will need to understand how to navigate a formal sales process; Product managers and marketing managers need to understand user expectations to design appropriate onboarding flows.
- Tim Wu, Director of Marketing and Growth, Framed
5. The Year of the AI …
What everyone’s been seeing this year is new SaaS tools popping up left and right to help “accelerate” sales efforts. But in 2016, it is going to be the year of the AI to eliminate tedious aspects of sales completely. For example, I’ve recently just demoed a software that automatically brought in every prospect to our CRM that was related to a company based on our specific buyer persona into our CRM with accurate contact information with one click. No email bounces or wrong phone numbers. No need to do busy work with data entry. It could tell exactly who we didn’t have in our system, add missing prospects, and update contact data for those who had switched jobs. It wasn’t two, three, or four clicks. Just one.
In addition to that, there will be a big shift and a more standard process for companies to start off their sales processes with account-based selling and account-based marketing from the get-go to align their efforts, extract the most value, and maximize revenue potential from day 1.
Also — with sales acceleration technology getting better, the next step is going to shift Predictive Scoring into “Predictive Actions.” Technology in the coming future will be able to tell sales reps exactly which prospect to call/email and the exact time to reach out to them for the highest chance of conversion.
Kevin Chiu, Sales Development, Greenhouse
6. Fewer Humans, More CRM …
2016 will be the tipping point for marketing and sales. Data will drive the business. It’s time for humans to step back. Data will be the connecting force between sales and marketing, unifying the silos and ecosystems to drive forward everything we do to attract and retain customers. Imagine a world where you can follow your prospects and customers across all channels, from web to MAP, to CRM to the rest of the b2b web (trade publications, search, blogs communities and forums). Connected data applied with math will drive marketing spend, create dynamic campaigns and tell sales folks who to call with the message that will resonate best with prospects’ needs.
Another major data-related trend: For the first time ever, B2B is leapfrogging B2C. B2B sales occurred offline, which meant B2B couldn’t connect digital footprint to offline sales. B2B has long been playing catch-up to B2C. However the world is changing. With advancements in data connectivity across sources, advancements in math and the tools to do so, we can now bridge online to offline data unlike ever before. B2B companies have far more data than B2C. Buyers are leaving behind a far richer footprint, telling us exactly what they want and need. And today’s predictive intelligence SaaS companies can use this footprint to find buyers that marketers can be confident are in market for their products.
- Amanda Kahlow, CEO of 6sense
7. Brand and direct marketing will continue to converge …
It seems that more companies today are focused on ROI and “data-driven” marketing rather than simply trying to create brand awareness, which often takes millions of dollars and a lot of time. When I first began marketing more than 15 years ago, “demandgen” and direct marketing were new concepts and the level of tracking that was available at that time was laughable…which made ROI difficult to measure. Marketers had to rely on their sales team to ask “how did you hear about us?” on every call. Nowadays, companies can track almost any customer activity, and demandgen and data-driven marketing are cornerstones of any good marketing strategy.
We’ve seen the movement towards data-driven marketing most recently in social and content marketing. While brand-building and demand generation go hand-in-hand, we will continue to see companies embrace the idea that demandgen can build the brand and drive revenue, a shift away from the “build the brand and the clients will come” philosophy. Make no mistake, companies that have deep marketing pockets or wish to get a huge head start on the competition may still choose to throw tons of cash towards quickly building their brand, but the majority of newer businesses will continue to focus first on generating demand and hope to build the brand along the way.
Alex Chrisman, Chief Marketing Officer, Dealstruck, Inc.
Download our latest e-book, Get Ready for a New Kind of Customer Success, and read more about what’s to come in 2016.