Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
As we close out 2022, sales and marketing teams everywhere are evaluating the year’s performance. They’re looking at what lies ahead and crafting new strategies to appeal to buyers and boost revenue. In a time where customer behaviors and expectations evolve faster than ever, these strategies often hinge on a business’s agility, flexibility and willingness to adapt to industry shifts.
Two such shifts that arose from the pandemic’s disruption were an emphasis on personalization and customer experience. Moving into the new year, organizations can expect these trends to continue and undergo further refining as hybrid buying and selling solidify as the new normal. Tools and tactics that can better leverage customer data and create a greater sense of relevancy with consumers will be the key to a competitive edge.
As you prepare, here are five trends to watch and incorporate into your strategies.
1. RevOps is on the rise
Internal fragmentation of the sales process has long been a source of friction in the buyer’s journey. It can have a detrimental effect on the seamless customer experience consumers are hoping for. Businesses need to unite their internal sales process to mirror what their customers prefer and expect. One of the ways they can do this is through revenue operations. This business model knocks down silos and gets everyone working toward the same goal: revenue. And since revenue is tied closely to customer purchases, it often translates into uniting behind the customer experience.
Processes and tactics that focus on shared data, agreed-upon procedures and clear communication will be vital to creating the seamless experience that so many customers now expect. Successful implementation of a RevOps model can see a 10-20% increase in internal customer satisfaction.
2. Curated content is key to one-to-one selling
In the age of digital selling, content is one of the most potent tools businesses have at their disposal. In B2B especially, there is an elevated reliance on content during the decision-making process. As the buyer’s journey becomes increasingly self-led, the best way to attract customers’ attention is by providing relevant information throughout the sales cycle. With the amount of data marketing and sales teams now have about their prospects and opportunities, it’s possible to leverage content further than the broad one-to-many messages that have taken dominance.
By carefully looking through previous customer actions, along with communication from marketing, sales teams can see what content a lead has seen. They can then use the historical data to make informed decisions about other content that would be most valuable for the lead as it progresses through the funnel. Not only does this provide the lead with relevant content, but it also demonstrates that you are listening to them and understanding their problem, which can go a long way to building trust.
3. Businesses are leaning on automation
Automation may sound counter-intuitive to a personalized customer experience, but the truth is that automation makes personalization at scale possible. There are two main functions of automation in sales and marketing: removing repetitive, rote tasks from human workers and analyzing large amounts of information. Automating repetitive tasks frees employees to focus on higher-level priorities and reduces the chances of an overlooked task, such as email follow-ups. With scale becoming such an issue, customers can get lost in the details of the daily grind. This is the last thing you need in an experience that is supposed to make them feel noticed and understood by your business. Automation can also assist with data analysis and provide team members with actionable insights.
4. Account-based marketing is driving personalization
Quality over quantity is vital in terms of leads. You can show your ads to a hundred people, but if they are the wrong audience, they won’t produce any sales. The scattershot, blanket method of marketing that pushes views and clicks over engagement and interest is no longer in fashion. Today’s customers are inundated with ads and companies. They’ve learned to tune out the noise unless it’s something that actually interests them.
Account-based marketing takes this concept and digs deeper. It’s getting to know specific accounts and their details to craft a message that meets their specific and individual needs. It works alongside RevOps and aligns sales and marketing to take information from both teams to identify the best and most likely accounts to win.
5. Buyers expect self-service experiences
A rising number of consumers, especially from younger generations, prefer to conduct their buyers’ journey independently, without interaction from sales or marketing teams. 81% of customers want to see more self-service options. This poses a complex problem to businesses that have relied for decades on human assets to push products. Instead, companies must now place focus on product experience and allow interactions with the product itself to drive consumers further down the sales funnel. For example, in software, self-service demonstrations will be vital in driving more independent customers. Once they have had their own self-activated experience with a product, they will be more inclined to seek assistance from high-end sales activities because they can curate their own questions from experience.
The customer experience has always been a vital element of business success. As we become an increasingly digital society, a larger part of that customer experience will be defined online and through the screen. Just like the sales and marketing tactics of the past, businesses will have to work to differentiate themselves from the competition. But, they need to do it according to the expectations and preferences of digital behavior.