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3 Business Trends to Make Your 2017 Successful

March 20, 2017  - Tips for Small Business
Sales Trends for 2017
First quarter is almost over. It's time to drive new sales opportunities and make sure your business is prepared to make all of 2017 successful. How do you do this when 68% of sales executives believe the buying process is changing faster than organizations are responding to the changes? The key to staying competitive is to look at the trends.

Whether you have a storefront, sell online, seek in-store placements of products, or go on-site to deliver services – you developed a plan and started with the basics of business. Everyone's business is different, but there are three trends that we see SMBs focusing on in 2017 to ensure success. As your business grows, you need to consider making changes to adapt and investments to accelerate your sales. Some changes are focused on the longer term but there are certain things you can do that will have an immediate impact to help your sales thrive.

Let's start with the three trends in 2017 across various industries:

Be FAST

Think about how your business can work faster. Take a good look at the processes and systems you have in place internally. Today, everything moves faster. Most businesses, for instance, are dealing with multiple channels of communication for sales, information requests, and support. Most customers have already researched before they even approach your company. And, on-demand access has become an important attribute in many industries.

You need to look at how well your processes are working today. Ask yourself these questions: 
  • How quickly can you respond to your customers?
  • How fast can you deliver your products and services?
  • How speedy is your back office?
  • Where can you make an impact to respond, support, and deliver at the speed your customers expect?
Here are some areas where you can shift your business into high gear:
  • Computer upgrades: Sometimes small businesses start small and add on as they go. To increase efficiency and improve communications across your organization, you will need to invest in having the right systems and software
  • Sales productivity software: According to TOPO Research, fast-growing sales development teams now have an average of five technologies in their sales stack. There are approximately fifteen processes that can be automated to allow sales more time to do what they do best: sell.
  • Tools and services your customers want: Investing in a good Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system not only gives a professional feel to your business but allows customers to interact the way they want to, with self-service options that allow them to take care of business when it's convenient.

Be KNOWLEDGEABLE

You've worked hard to build a customer base – don't just sit back. You need to continually deliver a customer experience that will build loyalty. You can do this by not just tracking their contact details, but really knowing and understanding your customer: the products they need or want, up-selling opportunities, and how apt they are to recommend your business.

How well do you know your customers? Ask yourself these questions:
  • Can you easily pull reports to understand buying patterns within your key accounts and industries?
  • Do you track historical activity to know when you have the best chance to repeat a customer?
  • Do sales and customer support have easy access to customer histories to drive a stronger interaction?
  • Do you regularly ask your customers about their experience with your company?
Here are some thoughts on helping you get to know your customers better:
  • Customer Relationship Management Platforms (CRM). This is an area of investment to consider – a good CRM can be extremely helpful for tracking your growing customer base, and your prospects and leads, their order histories, and to target areas to offer personalized treatment.
  • Do you have a call center? Ensure that the call center can easily integrate with your CRM. Customers appreciate when the agent is knowledgeable about the history of transactions so that they don't have to repeat information. The knowledge also allows for a faster transaction and the ability in some circumstances to up-sell.
  • Ask! Communicate! Survey opinions on your business services or a new product. Use the ever-insightful Net Promoter Score (NPS) metric to know whether they would recommend your company. Once you receive the data back – analyze and act on it. This will drive your customer experience ratings up and build a good relationship with your customers.

Be SOCIAL

With Sales for Life reporting that 73% of salespeople who used social selling as part of their sales process outperformed their peers, you can't afford not to incorporate social media activity into your sales process. With social networks a major part of your customers' lives – social channels can be a major factor in your businesses growth and success.

Ask yourself these questions:
  • Are you marketing on a variety of social channels to build awareness?
  • Can you target, reach, and interact with customers on the social networks where they like to interact?
  • Is your sales team using social tools to intelligently prepare for sales meetings?
How you can be social to get sales:
  • Expand your social channel interactions. This is an important one and we wrote a blog series about building your SMB social presence that you can check out for tips. Suffice to say, you should develop your social media strategy if you don't already have one. Your customers are already there and you need to be, too.
  • Leverage LinkedIn before sales calls. Learning about your customer via their LinkedIn profile can help your sales team make more meaningful connections when they speak.
  • Stay on top of online sales. Having a relevant website is key today for many reasons – a way to connect and promote your social channels, eCommerce sales from your online store, and providing downloadable marketing content such as data sheets or marketing brochures. This is a great lead generation tool for your sales funnel and host for much of your social content.
A business that thinks smartly and prepares has a better chance for successfully driving sales within new and existing business. You need to consider every step along the customer lifecycle to ensure that you're building awareness, converting leads into customers, and providing a great experience along the customer journey. Happy customers are loyal customers – and loyal customers will do your marketing for you. Making investments today will pay off and prepare you for your future sales growth.

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