Sales Trends to Expect

••• Sales trends.

The sales environment is constantly changing, and experts are always trying to predict what it will look like in the next month, next year, and next decade. The challenge to making such predictions is that new technologies and other events no one can predict can have massive impacts both on how we sell and on how our customers buy. The Internet and social media are just two recent – if significant – examples of how sales can change in major ways.

Still, assuming no technological revolutions occur, there are a few sales trends that we can expect to keep building in the near future.

The Number of Prospects Will Grow

As the population of planet Earth continues to grow, so will the number of prospects for your particular company and product. If you sell B2B, then your new prospects will come from new and expanding companies. This is generally good news for salespeople since the number of sales you be expected to make will also almost inevitably increase over time. On the other hand, having more prospects to speak with and more sales to make means that you will have to become increasingly efficient just to keep up. That means it's important for you to continually improve your sales process and your time management skills. Ruthlessly cut out any non-sales related activities and develop a laserlike focus on those activities that actually contribute to your sales.

The Number of Competitors Will Also Grow

Some of those new companies that are forming and growing will, unfortunately, be not prospects, but competitors. And just as you and the other salespeople at your company will be expected to make more sales, so will all the salespeople working for your competitors.

So even as the pie grows, more people will be lining up to take bigger slices. Naturally, those competitors will be developing new products and refine their sales approaches to try and beat you out. What this means to you is that you will also have to keep refining how you sell. You can't afford to let your sales pitch get stale – instead, you need to keep tweaking and improving it no matter how good you think it is now. Even the best sales presentation will get stale and outdated if you don't regularly update it. If you don't want to lose prospects, you need to refine your presentation BEFORE it starts to get stale.

Customers Will Become Less Loyal

With all these new competitors running around offering new products, new promotions, and all kinds of juicy special offers, even your most diehard customers will be tempted to make a switch just to see what they can get elsewhere. This can be a big problem for you, but with a little bit of strategy on your part, you can turn it into a win. When a customer decides to leave, treat them with great respect and in all ways try to make it a positive encounter. Then, a few months or a year later, get back in touch with the customer and find out how it's going.

If they've had even a slightly less than wonderful experience with their new vendor, the customer may be quite willing to switch back – and if it's been really unpleasant, they'll probably be happier than ever to work with you again. And of course, decreased customer loyalty applies to your competitors' customers as well. This will give you more opportunity than ever to tempt their best customers into switching to you.

Prospects Will Do More Research before Buying

The Internet and its related technologies have made information far more available to the public than before. Even a few decades ago, prospects had no choice but to rely on salespeople for product information. These days, any 12-year-old with access to Google can dig up vast amounts of product information in just a few minutes. And of course, prospects are more inclined to trust information provided by customers or third party sources than they are to trust what salespeople tell them.

As a result, by the time a prospect actually gets in touch with a salesperson, he may know as much about the product as the salesperson does. What's more, if he's reached the point of wanting to speak to a salesperson, he's probably just about made up his mind to buy that product. This trend will have a considerable impact on how you sell since prospects who come to you will be practically ready to buy while prospects you cold call will want to do lots of research on their own before they're willing to commit.