Every year starts with a promise to be better than the one before. Business experts began the year outlining trends that would help companies achieve more in the coming year. Take a look and see how these trends fit in with what your dealership achieved this year. (Adapted from a story in Forbes.com.)

1. Top performing companies will focus on connecting customers.

Experts say we are in the “connection economy.” According to the story, “If you want to build something that stands the test of time, you’ll connect your customers to each other and to valuable resources that extend beyond the sale.”

2. Smart businesses will shift from complaining about to embracing millennials.

Millenials, about 80 million people now in their 20s, represent the largest customer and employee segment. According to the story, “Millennials need to see a clear vision of their growth and future role in the organization. They might have aspirations that go beyond their current skills. If you share how you help your employees develop skills to advance in their careers, you might attract quality talent — and they will often help you attract other like-minded individuals.”

3. Innovative organizations will invest in mentoring and engagement for remote employees.

Top companies will commit to electronic tools to teach, monitor and mentor team members regardless of their physical location. According to the story, “This type of career development will lead to more engaged employees, and will help to improve recruitment of millennials who tend to value skills development.”

4. Top businesses will focus on strengths-based leadership.

The old trend was to evaluate employee based on their deficiencies — and then figure out how to overcome those weaknesses. In the new approach, employees are most engaged and productive when doing the things they enjoy and where they can be proficient.

5. Commodity products will continue to see margins erode. Services will extend value.

Top companies will differentiate based on expertise and skills, even when they used to offer commodities.

6. Leaders will invest in a corporate culture of customer service to grow revenue.

Smart companies are starting to embrace the notion that customer experience and customer service is the new approach to marketing. It’s not a new concept, but one that bears repeating: The fastest way to grow your business is to not lose existing customers. 

7. Leading companies will measure and deliver results, not just solutions.

Top companies will ensure the success of each project for each customer According to the story, “By focusing on results, the seller and the buyer will both share appreciation for the value delivered.” Once your customers see your approach is better, they’ll see beyond price.

8. Creative businesses will introduce “fun and games” to engage customers and employees.

According to Microsoft, the average attention span is 8 seconds. Goldfish, by comparison, have an attention span of 9 seconds. Whether it’s through electronics or traditional games, make activities fun to keep people interested.

9. The best companies will tightly integrate content marketing into their sales processes.

Customers today are doing research to gather object feedback about a product or service. Successful companies will find a way to integrate impartial content into their marketing to support customer decisions.

10. Rapid growth companies will invest in developing “selling/solving” skills for non-salespeople.

Customers today don’t want to feel they have been sold a product or service. They want to work with someone who plays the role of subject matter expert or trusted advisor and helps them solve their challenges.

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