Every year brings with it new sales trends for managers to sit up and take notice of, and 2019 is no exception. As technology continues to develop and people interact with brands and employers in new ways, sales teams need to keep up in order to hit target.

We’ve put together our five top sales trends taking the industry by storm, along with tips on how your team can take advantage of them to become more successful. Here are our key things to watch out for:

Technology talks

As an industry typically driven by insights and always looking to know more about its audience, sales is data-driven at is core. You will hopefully be well aware of technological advancements that have been floating around the sales industry recently, and now is the time to take advantage of these tools to help identify prospects and convert them into customers. The right technology can reveal crucial insights into your customers’ behaviour, with savvy sales people using customer analytics to track a customer’s journey and identify key areas for improvement. Look for technologies that improve efficiency and efficacy – while you don’t want to lose the personal touch of sales, there are plenty of tools on the market that can help to streamline processes.

Automation and AI should be explored to see sales teams can save time. With sales representatives spending 68% of their time not selling, according to Salesforce, managers should be looking for tools that allow sales people to spend more time on activities that directly drive revenue. Sales intelligence technologies can help to identify the right leads across the right accounts, while automation tools can make non-sales activities easier and slicker to manage.

But while new tools and technologies are crucial for successful sales teams moving forward, what’s even more important is the investment in training teams on how to use these updates to the benefit of the business.

Empowered buyers change the game

Buyers are more empowered than ever, with a wealth of information available at the click of a finger. The internet has changed the sales game forever. Customers are now better educated on products and services, and they’re more willing to ask questions and shop around before making a final decision. Innovations in mobile, social, cloud and big data technologies have resulted in tech-savvy consumers demanding more from businesses and brands. Even in a business-to-business setting, prospective buyers have done 57% of their due diligence work before even engaging with a sales representative, according to the Harvard Business Review.

Because of this, you need to get smarter with how you sell. Your customers already know the basics – they want you to be able to understand their key challenges and queries, investing the time to provide a tailored solution that they can’t get elsewhere.

When sales and marketing align

The sales and marketing functions have always been closely connected, but now is the time that they must align further. Both departments must work to identify and actively engage prospects, collaborate on lead score and qualification and nurture contacts into buyers in a joined funnel. Some sales technologies can assist with this, as mentioned previously, but your sales people must be communicating with your marketing team to share crucial insights on leads and prospects. As a manager, consider aligning some of the objectives or KPIs of members of both your sales and marketing team to encourage them to work together.

Social selling makes waves

Three quarters of customers say they would use social media as part of their purchasing decision, according to IBM research. This suggests that social media isn’t just a nice-to-have component of your sales and marketing strategy – it’s essential.

One of the best things about utilising social media sites to assist in your sales strategy is the data sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn collect on your audience. You can learn about your potential customers’ ages, locations, interests and social media habits, enabling your sales team to better target them in their activities. Engage your online audience by being consultative and thoughtful online, asking your followers what they want from you. Provide them with relevant content to ensure they keep coming back to your social profiles and hopefully convert into customers. While you’re at it, work on your employer branding to ensure you’re capturing not only key customers, but also the top sales talent to potentially join your team.

Millennials matter

Deloitte predicts that millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2020, so if you’re not already hiring millennials for your sales team, you’re at a competitive disadvantage.

Millennial sales representatives are skilled multitaskers, tech-savvy and eager to learn – but they also expect fast career progression, a more flexible approach to their work environments and more regular training and development sessions. Adapt your management approach accordingly and you’ll be rewarded with a sales team that embraces the new along with the tried and true.

Rinse and repeat

Keeping up with sales trends is an integral part of any sales manager’s job, and the nature of trends means that you must constantly review and adjust your strategy in reaction to what’s new on the market. If you want to know more about attracting, training or retaining the best sales talent on the market, take a look at our Performance Hub for more helpful content.