Happy server handing plates to restaurant customers.
Adopting technology, like e-commerce and social media tools, and appealing to consumers' desires for recognition and personalization can elevate your sales in 2024. — Getty Images/ Hispanolistic

In 2023, the business world saw the impact of artificial intelligence and technology across several industries — especially in sales, with 71% of consumers preferring self-service tools to research a brand or product. Looking ahead to 2024, these evolving trends don’t seem to be slowing down.

Below, sales leaders share what trends small business owners should expect in the upcoming year so your business can stay ahead of the curve.

[Read more: 4 Forward-Thinking Sales Strategies to Embrace]

Continued customer demand for personalized experiences

Personalization holds significant weight when it comes to consumers deciding whether or not to do business with your company — many are looking for a tailored experience.

“While some customers value anonymity, many customers value a customized experience,” said Martin Gasparian, an attorney and Owner of Maison Law.

“They don’t want to feel as though their business isn’t appreciated, and they certainly don’t want to feel like no one cares to cater to their shopping needs. We live in a world where everyone wants to feel like they belong and they want to feel as though companies care about them, so a small business owner should deliver that,” Gasparian said.

Greater consumer support for small, family-owned businesses

Consumers are increasingly favoring supporting small, family-owned businesses due to financial limitations and conscious spending.

“This trend is being driven by a combination of factors, including financial constraints and their growing preference for conscious spending,” said Jen Street, Founder and Creative Director of Forged Flare. “These financial constraints drive individuals to spend their dollars in places that will have a positive impact or contribute to a meaningful cause. This shift will cause consumers toward a more personalized, customer-centric experience,” Street added.

The use of data-driven insights

Data-driven insights will be pivotal in driving sales for small businesses in 2024, so investing in customer relationship management (CRM) systems should be a priority.

“Small businesses should invest in CRM systems to gather and analyze customer data. This data can inform everything from product development to personalized marketing campaigns,” said Sergey Solonenko, Founder and Chief Market Officer of Algocentric Digital Consultancy. “For instance, if your CRM data shows a high interest in a particular product feature, you can tailor your marketing efforts to highlight this feature. Tools like Salesforce or HubSpot can be invaluable for this purpose.”

[Read more: 7 Online Training Tools to Empower Your Sales Team]

Data-driven insights will be pivotal in driving sales for small businesses in 2024, so investing in customer relationship management (CRM) systems should be a priority.

Customer experience as a differentiating factor

Small businesses should also focus on the customer experience (CX) to increase sales. Products are becoming more commoditized, so standing out in the CX realm will be what sets your business apart in the marketplace.

“Businesses that can offer exceptional, personalized customer service; frictionless user experiences online and offline; and build strong customer relationships will likely see a direct impact on their sales figures,” said Bassem Mostafa, Owner of GlobeMonitor Market Research Agency.

“Small businesses, with their nimbleness and closer customer connections, have the unique opportunity to excel in this area. They can quickly adapt to feedback and provide the personalized touches that create memorable experiences, fostering loyalty and encouraging repeat business. In an increasingly competitive environment, excelling in CX could be the make-or-break factor for small business sales in 2024,” Mostafa said.

Increased focus on sustainable business practices

Now more than ever, consumers are seeking out businesses that conduct sustainable practices, and they prefer to buy from businesses that are environmentally conscious and socially responsible.

“Consumers are increasingly voting with their wallets for companies that demonstrate environmental stewardship and social responsibility,” said Sam Kunda, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Change Frontier.

“This shift is not merely about 'going green' but encompasses a holistic approach to sustainability, including supply chain transparency, ethical labor practices, and community engagement. The transition to sustainable business practices is not just a moral imperative but a strategic one. It opens doors to new markets, enhances brand reputation, and can lead to cost savings through more efficient resource utilization. My experience with supply chain optimization for sustainability has reduced the carbon footprint and resulted in substantial operational cost reductions,” Kunda said.

Stronger emphasis on social proof

Social proof is the principle that individuals look to the behavior of others for cues about how to act in a given situation. In marketing, businesses can leverage aspects of social proof, such as product reviews, customer testimonials, and third-party seals, to generate consumer awareness and sales. Having social proof influences a customer’s decision to purchase, with 71% of consumers saying authentic positive reviews influenced their buying decisions.

“Social proof will be the linchpin of small business sales,” said Abid Salahi, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of FinlyWealth.com. “Consumer reviews, testimonials, and user-generated content will heavily influence buying decisions, pushing businesses to foster robust, engaged communities.”

[Read more: 5 Things to Avoid When Giving a Sales Presentation]

Integration of digital tools into business operations

Leveraging digital tools like e-commerce and social media platforms will grow in popularity in the coming year, expanding customer reach and boosting sales.

“Digital integration will be the paramount factor influencing small business sales in 2024,” said Eric Eng, Founder and CEO of AdmissionSight. “More than ever, the nexus between entrepreneurship and technology continues to strengthen. Businesses that harness the power of digital tools, particularly e-commerce platforms and social media, can reach a wider customer base and drive sales growth. This is about more than just having an online presence. It's about leveraging data analytics to understand customer behavior, personalizing marketing efforts, and streamlining operations.”

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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