Though we’ve barely just scratched the surface of 2018, the year is already shaping up to be a game changer for sales operations.  Automation, AI, social media, and more are all bound to play an enormous role in the coming year. And with all the burgeoning tech trends set to transform SaaS sales, there’s never been a better time to rethink your sales strategies and capitalize on how the industry is changing for good.

Here are the top 3 SaaS sales operations trends to watch out for (and take advantage of) in 2018.

Automation is great, but the human factor is key

While a whopping 80% of companies plan to use automated service technologies by 2020, few things are as unsettling and frustrating as being prepared to buy, only to be greeted by an unhelpful and disconcerting chatbot experience.

Instead, it’s far better to bring in automation where it shines the most – handling mundane and repetitive tasks that involve massive amounts of data. After all, a whopping 71% of sales reps reported that they were losing productivity to data entry alone.

Rather than using automation tech to usher leads all the way through the marketing and sales process, this technology can instead be helpful in identifying when sales should engage. Maybe a customer has spent a significant amount of time in the pricing section or perhaps they keep returning to a product solution page over and over.  Using automation to detect these types of customer trends gives your sales team the behavioural data they need to chime in and make the sale at the perfect time.

So while chatbots can be instrumental in simple customer service and the early stages of qualifying leads, when it comes to closing the sale, nothing beats the human touch.

Using AI for Improved Sales Ops

As artificial intelligence technology continues to become increasingly sophisticated, SaaS sales teams are already beginning to incorporate such technologies directly into their operations, mainly to help boost on-the-spot product knowledge.

Imagine this: you’ve been making your way down the sales funnel for over a month now and have been ravenously consuming loads of helpful content along the way. In fact, you’ve become a bit of an expert. And you've concluded this is the perfect solution for you.

But when you contact a sales rep, they lack product knowledge causing you to lose confidence in the solution you were set on buying.  An incompetent sales team can cost you even the most qualified of leads.

That’s why it pays as a sales team to have constant access to a complete and comprehensive information repository at the drop of a hat. And when these systems can learn and grow dynamically with AI and machine learning, they can be even more helpful.

When it comes to onboarding new hires, there is a massive learning curve for sales reps in particular.  In fact, 42.5% of new sales team members take at least ten months to start positively contributing to a business’s target numbers.

With innovative and dynamic conversational AI applications, like Kiite, SaaS sales onboarding and operations all stand to benefit from instant access to up-to-date institutional knowledge, all in an easy-to-use chat feature that integrates directly with team collaboration tools like Slack or Facebook’s Workplace.

Social Selling can’t be ignored

By now, we all know the power and influence that social media has on the buyer. Hubspot reports that more than 90% of all marketers agree that social media is an integral part of boosting their company’s exposure and bringing in leads.

Year-after-year social media companies such as Instagram are providing more opportunities for businesses to leverage their platforms through paid advertisement such as the introduction of ads within Instagram stories in March 2017, a feature in which 200 million people use every day.  No budget? No problem!  You can serve up valuable and personalized content straight to your followers Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn timelines starting at a low cost of zero dollars.       

Moreover, modern sales teams are reaping the benefits. According to a recent report from LinkedIn, 90% of the upper echelon of sales professionals are taking advantage of tools dedicated to social selling. That’s 19% higher engagement than sales teams in general.  Content curation technologies, built-in social analytics, and automated posting software can all be instrumental in expanding your followers, qualifying your social leads, and most importantly, driving higher engagement to your website.

And in 2018, social selling will only continue to be imperative for filling the marketing funnel.

Make 2018 a banner year for Sales

As we enter a new year, sales tactics will continue to change at a rapid pace. While automation, AI, and social selling are all poised to become even more crucial for sales, the human factor and authentic engagement are still the driving forces behind closing the deal.

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