Sales – as a business process – is never static. Customers are constantly changing, which means so are the ways in which they’re engaged and influenced. In order for businesses to have success, changes must be introduced. And as many of today’s most successful companies show, the right changes must be made.
The new frontier of sales
The most successful brands in the world don’t resist change when the writing is on the wall. Instead, they’re quick to adapt and embrace new strategies. Lately, you can observe brands shifting their sales approaches to account for the following strategies and techniques:
1. Social media influencers
With the internet – and social media, in particular – anyone can build up an audience and become influential to a group of people. Leading brands, recognizing that 92 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations over advertising, have tapped into this by partnering with social influencers to propel their efforts.
There are literally dozens of major brands that now use influencer marketing as part of their approach to sales. But arguably no brand has had as much success as Adidas. When they wanted to gain traction, they worked with influencers like Selena Gomez to kickstart its #MyNeoShoot contest on Instagram. This, combined with other influencer-based tactics, allowed the brand to increase sales by 24.2 percent between January 2015 and January 2016. (Over that same period, Nike experienced a 9.1 percent drop in sales.)
While Adidas is obviously in a position to be able to go after celebrities like Selena Gomez, you don’t have to be a global brand to leverage influencers. In addition to mega-influencers, there are micro-influencers (500 to 10,000 followers) and macro-influencers (10,000 to 1 million followers) who can provide sales lift for smaller brands. It’s all about finding the right fit with an influencer whose audience overlaps with the brand’s audience.
2. Modern sales reporting tools
Gone are the days of guessing what’s working and what isn’t. Today’s sales departments have access to mounds of data. The trick is making sense of the data so that it can be put to good use. Companies that develop sound strategies for gathering and interpreting data are seeing the most success.
Datapine suggests using sales reporting tools to develop daily, weekly, and monthly reports to stay on top of sales trends and gain the valuable insights needed to make smart, proactive decisions. This removes the guesswork and labor intensity involved with generating these reports.
3. Social listening
There’s more to social media than pushing out content and trying to move people to action. Big brands have discovered that there’s actually massive value in using social media as a tool for listening to what people want.
The beauty company L’Oreal is a good example of this. A few years back, when faced with a dilemma of which hair product to develop next, the company went to social media platforms like YouTube to identify user-generated content and listen to their opinions.
“They identified thought leaders in the industry who could act as influencers,” marketer Alina Gorbatch writes. “This, together with the analysis of Google trends, helped them make a decision – the company went with the ombre hair color trend and developed L’Oreal Feria Wild Ombre. The product became a huge success and the trend indeed lived on.”
With the advent of social media listening tools, brands don’t even have to go through the process of manually listening to what people are saying. Instead, they can automate the process and gather insights with greater efficiency.
4. Storytelling with content
Content marketing is no longer strictly about SEO. While a good content strategy will still yield tremendous search marketing benefits, it’s much more about engaging individual customers. In response to this, brands are no longer using carefully optimized content. Instead, they’re approaching content marketing from a storytelling angle. Some of the companies with the best brand-driven storytelling include Airbnb, Spotify, Huggies, and IBM.
Adapting with purpose
It’s not enough to adapt your sales approach because everyone else is doing it. If you adopt this mentality, you’ll find that you simply go through the motions. (Something that’s dangerous and infectious in sales.) When you adapt new sales strategies, your mindset needs to shift along with your actions. Only then can you fully embody your new approach and generate the results you need to be successful.