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Published February 04th, 2016 by

Current Trends in Sales and Marketing Software

There is no doubt that customer relationship marketing software is here to stay. The question is, how will it evolve over time? How has it already evolved? As a departure from pre-existing models of sales, CRM software and sales/marketing software in general has been disruptive to the sales and marketing industries. The concept of relationship marketing is certainly not new, however the proliferation of smart technology has enabled marketing specialists and sales teams to take their efforts to the next level. In this article, we are going to explore some of the current trends in sales and marketing software.

The Importance of Content for Sales and Marketing

Ten years ago, it was enough to slap up an ad on a website and wait for clicks. While this is still a viable model, it is gradually decreasing in effectiveness over time. The reason is that it is inherently obtrusive for the end user (who is really the target customer) and as such many solutions to that problem evolved over time. Ad blocking plug ins for browsers have become more and more common, so vendors who rely solely on ads to generate traffic to their business have been in for a rude awakening.

The trick is that customers Trends in Sales and Marketing Softwaredon’t really want to be advertised to. Let’s face it, it just feels downright manipulative. Users come to websites for content, not to be a target for somebody’s business. As such, the need for marketers to evolve has never been more apparent.

The solution to this problem is to leverage actual content in marketing. Just because people don’t like seeing ads on web pages, doesn’t mean they don’t want to know about what products are out there. After all, customers have legitimate problems to solve. They want to know there is a solution out there, and how to get it – they just don’t want that answer to be slapped into their face. The compromise is to create content that seeks to not only sell, but also to inform the buyer.

Moreover, savvy marketing firms recognize the importance of aligning advertising efforts with the interests of the potential customer. People don’t always come into the sales funnel at the same point (i.e. some may be just seeking out information, while others are ready to buy right away), so a one size fits all solution is sure to alienate some portion of the potential customer base. Fortunately, the advent of modern software allows marketing and sales firms to tailor their message to buyers at different stages in the process.

Data Driven Decision Making

Big data in sales and marketingThe era of making decisions on the fly based on gut feelings is over. With the wealth of computing power and information voluntarily given away by customers, there is really no reason or excuse to be guessing. Firms that adopt data driven decision making will thrive in the future, while those that do not will go the way of the dodo bird.

Moving forward we will see increased access to demographic data, as well as information regarding consumer preferences. With each “like” or retweet marketing software will learn more and more about the desires of the consumers. This has the capability to bring more relevant and direct marketing, thus increasing conversion rates and increasing customer engagement.

 Predictive Sales Process

In years past, sales teams were left to deal with stale and outdated data. This made the process of arriving at solid and clear judgments almost impossible. Modern software, in contrast, has the capability to offer real time analytics and full visibility into the sales pipeline. For the sales organization, this means the capability to predict where a consumer is within the sales process, based on all available information. This allows the sales team to market more effectively.

Beyond the capability to predict consumer behavior, sales and marketing software gives management visibility into the performance of the sales team. This opens up the possibility of real time coaching of underperforming members to bring up the overall quality of the entire team.

Adoption and Consumption

Whereas years past saw the so called big game hunters of the organization lauded as heroes, modern sales has evolved. No longer are consumers tied to the company. With the ease of switching technologies and products, firms must constantly be marketing to their customers or another competitor will swoop in to capture market share. This new model can be dubbed adoption and consumption, rather than simple conversion.

Mobile is Here to Stay

Ah the good old days of the desktop computer. While we can look back fondly at the era of the desktop, today’s consumers are checking their phones first. This means that all sales websites have to be mobile optimized to maximize the user experience. In fact, search engines penalize companies whose websites aren’t mobile optimized. Yes, mobile is that critical. With ever more people getting a smart phone with every passing day, this trend isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

Beyond responsive weMobile Computing in Sales and Marketingbsites, businesses need to focus on leveraging geo location data. The ability to reach out to nearby consumers will be an enormous advantage for sales teams in the very near future. Combining the ability to extrapolate user buying habits and the ubiquity of mobile devices, and sales firms have fertile ground for planting the seeds of consumption. Software that informs the buyer of nearby deals and coupons is on the horizon, make no mistake.

Ubiquity of Information

In the era before the internet, buyers often relied on sales people to help guide them through the sales process. This was a consequence of the lack of readily available information. Of course, the internet changed all that, and in grand fashion. Modern consumers can look up reviews on any product or service, learn the inner workings of pretty much any technology, and generally short circuit the need for a sales person to completely explain the product to them. Sales teams must adapt to this new reality. The number one consequence of this is that buyers prioritize ease of buying over industry expertise. After all, if you can attain sufficient expertise on your own, why do you care what the sales person thinks?

 Machine Learning and Sales Software

A cutting edge and emerging technology is the field of machine learning. This is the science of teaching computers to learn from large data sets. As it turns out, machines are quite adept at discovering patterns in large sets of data, and this has enormous applications in the modern era.

With the rise of popularity of social media a new avenue has emerged for machine learning applications: sentiment analysis. This is the process of analyzing social media data and determining the sentiment of the poster. The software can actually tell the tone of voice of the writer, so as to discover the public’s reactions to the company.

Another potential application is in the analysis of consumer behavior. Some people are big spenders, while others are thrifty. Modern software has the capability to distinguish the two, which allows businesses to spend more marketing dollars and personnel energy on those consumers most likely to do business with the company.

One area ripe for the application of machine learning is customer service. Here, the software can detect patterns in complaints and solutions to those problems. This is then fed into customer service representative training to enable them to more efficiently meet the needs of their customers, which enhances the customer experience and improves retention.

Tangentially related is the application of machine learning algorithms to medical data. The reality is that, to some extent, doctors are selling patients on cures for conditions. Often these cures take the form of pharmaceutical products, which the doctors prescribe based on the patients symptoms. By leveraging machine learning algorithms, doctors in the future will be able to more accurately prescribe effective medications, while minimizing the potential for side effects and drug interactions.

 Conclusion

Sales is a field that has rapidly moved into the new digital era. Firms are quickly abandoning the old methods of the 1950s and adopting best practices that leverage software systems. Among these best practices is the harvesting of consumer data to uncover underlying patterns and preferences. This enables the marketers to more effectively connect with consumers and meet their needs.

The widespread adoption of mobile technology has allowed marketing firms to directly broadcast to consumers on a personal basis, as evidenced by apps such as Retail Me Not. This trend will continue into the future, and become more and more prevalent.

Emerging applications of machine learning include sentiment analysis and customer service. These allow marketers to determine the effectiveness of marketing campaigns with relatively organic metrics (such as actual expressions of interest or negativity). Pattern analysis allows software to increase the effectiveness of customer service scripts over time and thus increase customer retention and experience. This is a trend that will only continue into the future.

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