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3 ways sales has changed in recent years

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay | 12 August 2019

Sales has been a fine, evolving art since the early days of the barter system. Throughout its lifespan, society has subsequently found better, more efficient ways of advertising new products to emerging markets – shifting to expensive suits and briefcases, mass media, and finally, the digital age of today.

It isn’t just technology, however, that’s changed the face of the sales industry. Sure, we’ve got automation, artificial intelligence and online platforms that provide a far more convenient experience than traditional models; though these go hand-in-hand with developing trends in customer relations and business practices, too. 

SkillsTalk discuss these primary changes below, and how you and your business can adapt.

How has sales changed in recent years?

  1. Embracing e-commerce.
  2. The rise of social media.
  3. A “customer-first” approach.

1. Embracing e-commerce.

e-commerce concept

Today, the global market thrives on in the interconnectedness of modern society, driven by internet access and mobile technology. People, services, and the world’s information are constantly at our fingertips; whether in the comfort of our own home, or in public locations and transport. 

With the ability to reach anyone at any time or place, it’s no surprise that businesses have taken to the digital realm, granting them a wider (and more efficient) consumer reach. Australia currently sits as one of the world’s strongest e-commerce markets, predicted to have a market value of $35.2 billion by 2021. Just last year, the country had spent a total of $28.6 billion on online shopping alone.

Scope and convenience are not the only advantages, however – taking your sales online also alleviates the need for expensive physical storefronts. Everything the buyer needs is available from their desktop or mobile screen: from visual and technical product information, to the transaction process. These cashless purchases also allow for a quick, easy, and safer shopping experience (trusted payment gateways such as Paypal keep your data encrypted and secure), completing the sale in a number of clicks. 

On the consumer side of things, e-commerce has allowed busy shoppers to save time, conveniently compare prices, and the ability to access a wider variety of products (no longer having to deal with “low stock” or unavailable items in-store). 

What does this mean for your business?

If your retail company has yet to go digital, don’t risk falling behind – plenty of traditional “brick-and-mortar” stores have now extended to the online realm, driving both internet-based and physical, in-store sales. 

Because building an online store from scratch can take plenty of time and investment, businesses (especially smaller ones) can benefit from leveraging existing online marketplaces; such as Amazon, eBay, or Shopify. 
These e-commerce businesses are not only incredibly simple to set up, but can handle much of the logistical work for you, while having your products visible to a wide audience. They can also narrow down your target market by categorising your goods under the appropriate interest or niche. 

2. The rise of social media.

Online business is in full bloom – and so is the world of social media. 79% of the Australian population currently use this form of communication, a 10-point increase from 2018. Like e-commerce, social media is yet another lucrative channel for marketing your product and getting your brand seen.

The platform, however, has driven a more personalised style of selling. As these sites forge connections through shared stories and experiences, businesses are encouraged to drop their typical cold-marketing approach – in favour of one that relates and converses with the audience. 

Enter the rising trend of “authenticsocial media marketing, where companies foster trust among potential customers through a more genuine, empathetic, human voice. The ability to conveniently connect with your customers also allows for efficient, reliable customer support. As online business continues to flourish, studies reveal the rising demand for real-time customer care; a feat that’s achieved through the ease of social media. 

What does this mean for your business?

Establishing an active, supportive social media presence is key to driving sales and customer loyalty. Take time to research the optimum platform for your brand. This can depend on factors such as customer demographic, location, and your product type. If you’re selling to other businesses, LinkedIn may be your best bet. If you’re targeting millennials, you’re better off on Facebook or Instagram.

With brand authenticity predicted to rise, businesses must learn to foster meaningful relationships with their customers through social media; working with trusted influencers to endorse your product in a genuine, personal manner. 

By spurring social media discussion among your audience, you can also leverage their shared opinions, reviews, and product stories to further your brand awareness.

3. A “customer first” approach.

customer experience concept

Finally, the customer has forefronted sales more than ever before.  

As the online platform Klipfolio states: “If the customer succeeds, they’ll buy and they’ll stay.” 

This approach effectively shifts focus from promoting your product, to understanding the consumer, their needs, and their concerns. Product knowledge is important, sure – but with the plethora of information available online, your customer has likely done their research. Instead, aim to help your customer find solutions to their problems, and how your product can play a part. 

It’s a far less pushy, less intrusive way to sell; and ensures the other that you’ve got their best interests in mind, helping build trusting, loyal relationships with potential consumers.

What does this mean for your business?

This “customer-first” approach works well with the integration of business and digital media – conceiving the practice known as content marketing

This form of soft selling aims to deliver high-value, quality content to potential consumers, providing answers to questions or dilemmas they may have. They may take the form of blog posts, infographics, or social media content, addressing their interests and how your business is here to help. 

Such marketing also makes use of search engine optimisation (SEO) to rank higher on Google results, gaining more recognition among your target audience. Businesses are now hopping on the rising trend of “question optimisation”, incorporating their market’s most-asked questions into their content, and appearing higher on Google search pages as a result.

When done right, you’ll win the trust and loyalty of the consumer – successfully influencing their decision to buy. 

Think you’re made for the industry?

Sales involves developing the business savvy, interpersonal skills, and marketing knowledge required to successfully bolster demand for a product or service.

Upskilled provides plenty of online training in sales and customer contact – from short courses such as those in Customer Relationship Management, to certificate qualifications such as the BSB40318 - Certificate IV in Customer Engagement.

Take your first step into this dynamic, exciting profession; and enquire on a course today. 

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