|In a business landscape that continues to change with a blink of an eye and the tap of an iPhone®, today’s small business professional must be able to demonstrate thought leadership and the ability to collaborate as well as the ability to cultivate relationships both on- and offline. The year ahead marks continued change in how business is conducted, how the sales team interacts with customers and how social media fits into the overall scheme of things.Here is some insight on trends that are transforming the small business sales world in order to remain relevant and successful well into 2011:|
- Getting personal
Despite (or because of) the continual shift to online business, customers will seek a more personal level of interaction with customer service and sales representatives. Personal doesn’t always mean face-to-face, but the ability to communicate easily with customer’s is key in 2011. Let your customers know exactly how to reach customer service reps—via social media, e-mail, instant message, etc. Continue to use direct mail tactics to help get the word out, but make these connections highly personalized with new printing techniques like small-batch personalization and full-colour variable laser printing. These techniques allow you to add personal notes, change headlines and images and insert special offers based on each individual customer on your mailing list. Paired with personalized branded giveaways like a tote with the recipient’s initial or a picture frame engraved with customers’ names.
- Prospecting in the New Year: Social media
With social networking sites and the plethora of information available online, the new year of business continues to offer data on potential business partners and customers along with a means of communicating with them. Savvy small business leaders and sales people will continue to use social networking sites as tools to further engage in better quality prospecting and improve conversion rates rather than just using them to make a list of prospects. Use search tools and targeted ads on social media sites to find new business. Make a link from virtual to personal by contacting prospects directly with unique sales deals and a small gift, like a Designer Toiletry Bag or a Multi-Tool Set.
- Changing incentives
Incentive programs, commissions and bonuses have been synonymous with small business sales teams for at least the last 50 years. However, throwing more money at sales teams to perform better, especially in these complex economic times, may be a thing of the past. Some businesses are offering up conference and professional development opportunities in lieu of or in addition to commissions. Ask your employees what would truly motivate them to make a sale and seriously consider implementing their ideas. In between commission or reward periods, thank your sales team for their efforts in smaller ways with gifts like Game Night Poker Sets or a trendy watch.
- Moving to the cloud and utilizing software as a service (SaaS)
An increasing number of small businesses will continue to host e-mail, accounting and document sharing in the cloud instead of on servers in their own offices. Many small businesses looking to cut computing costs and improve efficiency are finding the many benefits of Internet-based software and services increasingly attractive. In fact, companies with 100 or fewer employees are expected to spend $2.4 billion on cloud computing services in the next year, up from $1.7 billion in past years.
Don’t miss out on new business opportunities in 2011—stay current on trends and continue to engage existing and prospective customers in creative and personal ways. Doing so ensures your business will see results throughout the year and beyond.