Business trends come and go. But it’s the early adopters and risks that get the most out of them.
Of course, no growing firm can invest in every business technology that comes on the market. That's why it's important for leaders, especially in the fast-moving world of sales, to keep an eye on small business trends, particularly trends in technology. This way, they'll be monitoring what the right solutions are to adopt and be better placed to decide when to invest in them.
This article explores which technologies will be most useful to small business sales managers in the future.
New technologies are constantly being developed but only a few become a trend with small businesses. That's because it takes sufficient uptake of business technology to lower its price, making it fall within the scope of most small businesses. In short, small business trends only occur when enough companies start using the same technologies.
Being ahead of the curve is the best way to help maximize your growth potential. Most small business sales managers should strive to be on the cutting edge of advanced technology.
Whether you’re a sales manager or an IT director you should have an awareness of the following small business tools. These technologies will likely become game-changers in many areas of commerce, including sales and marketing activities.
Let’s explore them in more detail
According to figures published by IBM, large businesses were almost twice as likely to adopt AI technology as SMEs in 2022, but things are changing fast. These days, surveys suggest that about a quarter of all SMEs in the US are now using some form of AI.
Firstly, you don't need to spend a cent to try out AI sales tools. Many of them, such as Seamless.AI, offer AI-powered sales writing tools that you can try out for free. Sendspark is another popular AI sales platform used for video messaging clients. It, too, offers a free plan.
As the machine learning (ML) and AI market continues to develop, freemium AI sales platforms will become rarer. You'll be left with low-grade freeware options or have to pay for a premium subscription.
So now is the time to explore Ai tools before you end up facing a monthly fee.
Some benefits of AI sales tools for small businesses include:
- Automated AI lead qualification can simplify sales processes and offer greater accuracy.
- AI chatbot technology is useful for post-sales support, freeing up time for sales administrators.
- Use machine learning text analysis to filter customer feedback and spot potential sales trends.
- Sales forecasting is liable to improve with the right AI analytical tools at your disposal.
Data transfers between field sales representatives and back-office staff are crucial in many sales operations. Small business sales managers will soon be able to deploy 5G mobile devices for their teams to make uploading and sharing documentation much quicker. This will be particularly beneficial among technical sales teams that sell engineering services or specialist machinery.
You might think that 5G has been talked about for years but is showing little progression. However, the early adoption phase is already closing, with more 5G infrastructure rolling out across the globe every month. Relying on 4G signals and delayed data transmission could create missed opportunities among smaller companies, especially if they're competing with larger rivals.
The upsides of 5G for small businesses include:
- 5G services can lead to better customer experiences, so it's not just about internal communications.
- New mobile technologies typically drive innovation, the lifeblood of many growing SMEs.
- Being able to manage their sales teams effectively from any location will suit many sales managers.
Small enterprises operating in the retail sector need to think carefully about the uptake of small business trends all the time. Many businesses already use digital tools to drive down costs. Small retailers should start to consider implementing self-scanning options, similar to the ones offered by large supermarkets.
Consider things like using QR codes so that customers can scan items themselves as they shop, then check out with a digital payment from their phone. You'll need a store app to record all the sales data and ensure the system isn't being abused.
Another small business tool that's useful for retailers is automated sales promotion notifications through a store app. Let your customers know when price drops happen and when the best time to buy is.
The advantages of technology retail sales tools include:
- Diminish staffing costs by needing fewer people in your store to manage customer demand.
- Link your sales tools to your ordering and restocking processes for seamless automation.
- Gain more accurate information about customer returns and the sort of products that are moving off the shelves the quickest.
Many small businesses have been operating with remote and hybrid workers since the pandemic. This requires sales managers to ensure their teams are working when they say they are.
Many forward-thinking sales managers invest in staff monitoring tools that measure productivity, not just the presence of an employee at their workstation. One of the big trends in technology over the last few years has been focused on employee productivity. By measuring output, sales managers will be better placed to see who in their teams is working smarter, not just harder.
The benefits of employee monitoring software for small businesses include:
- Assisting sales managers in assessing individuals who may need help and retraining.
- Monitoring software effectively enables working from home helping to reduce office overheads.
- In sales teams that rely on collaboration between sales representatives, properly monitoring them can help in deciding how bonuses and commissions can be split fairly.
- Successfully run hybrid working environments tend to be popular, making your sales recruitment that bit easier.
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) selling tools are already used in some sales operations. But the rise of the metaverse is likely to replace them in the near future as the technology becomes more popular.
At the moment, metaverse selling is restricted to some online marketing and brand building. Soon, it will be used to offer customers virtual showrooms or product demonstrations as well. The possibilities of what this immersive tech has to offer are still being imagined. So sales managers should consider adopting metaverse technologies sooner rather than later.
The pros of virtual sales tools for small businesses include:
- Increasing uptake of metaverse-ready technology among tech-savvy consumers.
- Provide your customers with realistic demonstrations without the need to travel.
- Everything you do in the metaverse can be recorded, helping you to review and hone your sales techniques.
Blockchain is a business technology that's primarily associated with crypto assets. However, there's much more to this digital technology than mere virtual currency ownership verification. Logistics companies now use blockchains globally to monitor the passing of goods from one depot to the next. The digital trail they leave works as a way of auditing the passage of commercial deliveries.
Blockchains can also be deployed in sales setups to provide similar verifications. For example, when a sales lead is passed on, it can be recorded digitally within a blockchain to help verify who has the lead and when it was next actioned.
Equally, sales processing that relies on orders being put together from multiple stock items can benefit from blockchains. Verifying every action can help sales managers increase business transparency and bear down on fraud.
The advantages of blockchain tools offered to small businesses include:
- Being able to offer your customers immediate buy-now-pay-later options with financial records held securely in a blockchain.
- Enjoy increased managerial oversight of sales processes while retaining commercial privacy.
- Keep track of complex sales that may require input from multiple sales employees and project managers with a convenient, decentralized system.
Not every customer relationship management CRM offers straightforward accounts integration. Likewise, some accounts packages will never integrate fully with your sales processes. This can cause a headache for both finance and sales managers. One of the most popular small business trends in the deployment of CRM systems that seamlessly integrate with accounts systems.
CRM integration isn’t the only thing to consider with your chosen accounts software. It can also help sales operations in small businesses as CRM tools allow you to integrate email marketing tools like Mailchimp or web-form software such as WuFoo.
At Capsule CRM, our software offers many integration options, including those mentioned above, as well as numerous business email tools and VoIP software systems.
Benefits of integrating customer relationship and accounts software include:
- Being able to crunch customer order data quickly and manage resources accordingly.
- Increasing the profitability of each sale by managing your sales and credit control processes better.
- Organize your sales processes so that they are fully optimized for all of your B2B accounts.
- Keep your data in sync so that your sales platform is never out of step with the latest financial information.
Many sales teams rely on visual selling. Sometimes, you might show customers a picture of a product or a project you've successfully delivered in the past. Displaying images on your website is another key part of visual selling in the digital age. However, this isn't the only way you can leverage visual information.
Like other small business trends the uptake of visual searches online is increasing year on year. Some demographics make use of searches that don't rely on keyword inputs or even voice-based terms anymore. Instead, they'll make use of digital tools like Google Lens. What this entails is using their smartphone's camera to capture an image and search for it.
Marketing executives and sales managers need to learn how to optimize their eCommerce landing pages for these sorts of searches. Even if you don't sell products, visual searches can help drive service sales. By providing landing pages for visual searches that your services overcome, you can help optimize your site for these increasingly common types of searches.
Plus points of visual search sales tools include:
- Visual searches often help people track down exactly what it is they want to buy.
- Sites geared up for visual searches can often convert visitors into customers with no further sales interactions needed.
- Brands that are geared up to appeal to younger customers will find this small business technology often sets them apart from competitors.
Social media advertising is booming these days, and many small businesses are jumping on board. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn offer accessible advertising solutions for growing enterprises. Targeting is more precise and flexible these days, just what sales managers in SMEs are looking for.
One of the reasons social media ads have become a small business trend is that this form of marketing can reach local communities just as easily as global audiences. You select the demographics and interests of the people you want to target.
Posting engaging content will attract potential customers and then you can use this data to assess your visitor traffic data. Small businesses tend to find that consistency and authenticity resonate with online audiences. Even better, it's a cost-effective and scalable advertising trend.
Key benefits of small business social marketing are:
- Being able to spend within predetermined budgets.
- The ability to market to the right people at the right time.
- A great way to grow your brand's online reputation.
Small business trends are increasingly technology-focused. Business technology takes many forms, and not all of it will prove to be a success. But sales managers and business leaders still need to keep up with latest trends in technology if they want to see the best returns in investment.
This is particularly important among smaller businesses with limited budgets. Capsule CRM can help you improve sales performance significantly. Do discover more by signing up for our 14-day free trial.