Advertising is always evolving. As traditional media makes way for the internet, sales techniques have had to make major adaptations. Instead of being the Internet’s version of 1950’s newsies, salespeople have had to get more creative and subtle with their techniques.
This is because, more than ever, the customer of today hates “in your face” sales techniques. In fact, your audience is essentially trained to shut off once faced with most direct advertising, particularly if it is the barrier to what they want (unskippable YouTube ads, anyone?).
So considering the whole point of your sales team is to, you know, sell…what should they be doing?
Prepare to embrace these sales trends in the new year:
1. Video Content
If you’ve been paying any attention to your social media streams lately, you’ve likely noticed the transition from text and images to videos. This is a trend that has been building up for years, resulting in the seemingly endless supply of videos available to anyone interested. There are a few video content trends that your team should try out in 2019:
Short, sweet, accessible
In general, video advertising content is becoming shorter, more visually appealing, and created to be accessible and engaging on a moments notice.
By making content that is digestible in a minute or two, viewers are less likely to keep scrolling. By making them well-produced and engaging, the viewer won’t want to keep scrolling. Finally, with the autoplay feature on most platforms, adding captions to highlight, explain, or narrate the video will draw the viewer in.
The modern customer is drawn to authenticity. There’s a reason why YouTube stars are a thing; by picking up a camera and giving people a window into their “real” life, they are able to be authentic and attract a following in a way that larger corporations and brands often struggle to do.
Don’t be afraid to fully commit to authenticity. Let your salespeople pick up a camera and film behind-the-scenes, film themselves interacting with the product, experiment with different ways to bring authenticity to your videos. Additionally, don’t feel like you need to invest in fancy equipment, either – any smartphone made in the last few years should do the trick.
Speaking of authentic, how about doing a live video?
Instagram allows its users to stream live, as does Facebook and YouTube. There are places dedicated solely to live streaming, like Twitch. Get your sales team on board with this trend! Viewers love live video, as they know it cannot be edited and it’s the “real deal.” This format of video is appealing, compelling, and the most authentic.
2. Social Media
Social media itself is, of course, not a new trend. But the ways your sales team can utilize social media to sell are always changing.
For the new year, challenge the way you currently think about social media. It is not a placeholder for basic information about your business; it is not a distant, untouchable facade for your brand. If you have a social media profile for your business, it should be active, engaged one-on-one, and ultimately provide value to your followers. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Have your team embrace social media in a whole new way in 2019:
Create Unique Content Per Channel
I’m just gonna say it: to fully adopt social media as a sales technique, stop posting the same content to every channel.
Viewers expect content that is not only unique but also created specifically for the platform they are on. This means following best practices for each platform, and not treating them all the same. For example, if you decide that your team should focus on Instagram sales, make sure you have a great Instagram account – post consistently but not too often, use hashtags that are hidden in the comments, and engage with the comments on your posts.
Instead of paying to have more eyes on your advertisement, try having your team experiment with different ways to boost engagement with your posts. This technique helps your content mesh with current algorithm trends, which prioritize posts that have good engagement; assuming that the more engaged the audience is, the more likely others will want to see it.
Bring on the Influencers
Using influencers to promote a product is a trend that will continue to grow in 2019; sales teams have three ways they can tackle it:
First is the free product approach — the Hail Mary of promotional content. Send the influencer your product for free and reach out to them to let them know. Second is the paid promotion. This can come in the form of a paid review, a shoutout, or a sponsored post. Finally, there is the sponsorship tactic, which simply involves sponsoring an influencer’s content.
Especially for the latter two of these three options, you should talk to the influencer and decide whether to make this a one-off, print on demand product (limited offers come with the added bonus of scarcity) or have them promote one of your flagship items.
Influencers are present on just about every social media platform in just about every niche, so your team should be researching and building a list of potential partners to work with. Let your team get creative! There are tons of possibilities within these three techniques.
The best thing about using Influencer Marketing is that they have an audience already, and that audience follows them and trusts them. By supporting someone that your audience already likes and trusts, you can take advantage of that relationship in a way that doesn’t feel overly “sales-y” – if you do it right.
3. Artificial Intelligence
Friendly robot butlers might not be here yet, but artificial intelligence can help your sales team succeed in a whole new way in 2019. However, the important thing to remember about AI is that no one ever wants to feel like they’re talking to a robot. AI should never be used to replace the human connection, only to assist and make processes faster and easier. But how does that translate to sales techniques?
This is an area where AI can help behind the scenes to free up time. How much time does your sales team spend trying to generate leads and nurture leads that they think are worth it? Instead, have your team use AI algorithms that can indicate which leads are promising based on KPIs and patterns of your current best customers.
You’ve heard of A/B testing, but have you thought about using AI to implement your A/B testing and adapt it in real time? When your team has different variables they want to test, have them feed those variables into an AI program and have it do the testing for you. Even better, tell it to adapt the test based on what is doing well. This results in a more effective, flexible, real-time test than a human can pull off.
Testing different variables and adapting based on what works better is not a new technique – but using an AI program to sift through all that data and make sense of it for you is. There’s a whole bunch of e-commerce conversion variables that you should be testing for, such as the impact of video, the number of form fields you ask customers to fill on the checkout page and using social proof in your product copy.
4. Selling to the Future
Things move pretty fast these days. For sales, it can be equal parts exciting and terrifying; going viral is great — unless it’s because of a huge blunder. As trends zoom by at lightning speed, sales teams should focus on picking out the longer-lasting ones and incorporating them into their sales strategy.
What is your team planning for the new year?