Disruption Incoming: Six Industry-Changing Sales Trends

Jessica’s sales team is set to close their best quarter ever, but she’s still losing sleep.

As the VP of Sales, she’s not just worried about hitting goals today, she needs to set her team up for long-run success. As a forward-thinking executive, Jessica’s focus is on the sales landscape of the future. But the universe of sales is changing faster than ever.

Jill Rowley, social selling evangelist and Chief Growth Advisor at Marketo notes that, “The buyer has changed more in the past 5 years than in the past 50, more in the past 10 years than in the past 100. Sales needs to change because buyers are changing.” Sales leaders like Jessica must keep their fingers on the pulse of this change.

That’s why we assembled nine sales veterans to share their insights about the future of sales. Here are just a few of the trends they see consuming the sales industry in 2018 and beyond:

Want the full ebook? Download the Future of Sales.

Connection is invaluable

People buy from people. No matter how much automation or technological innovation takes place—that’s not going away. In fact, the all-consuming role of technology makes meaningful connections between people increasingly rare. That makes connection a secret weapon of sales teams. Those who genuinely care about their buyers and foster real relationships with them will see out-sided sales success, and find great personal fulfillment in the process.

“What won’t change in the next ten years is B2B buyers with business challenges will want to do business with those they trust—and trust comes from human interactions of value and customer-first solutions.”—Kyle Porter, CEO and Co-founder, SalesLoft

“Why is every sales trainer out there teaching reps to call, email, call, email, call, email? Instead, focus on knowing your buyer. Be where your buyers are. Be visible and valuable to your buyers. Be the best advocate of and for your buyer.”—Jill Rowley, Chief Growth Advisor, Marketo

Data is eating the world

Marc Andreessen famously claimed that “software is eating the world.” While software has entirely consumed the modern sales org, the intensive use of the data is the next frontier of sales. While data abounds in CRMs across the globe, only a fraction of it is being used to drive prospecting, messaging, pipeline velocity, and deal mechanics. Sales teams that deeply harness data will disproportionately win customers in the years ahead.

“In the next 5-10 years, the sales industry will continue to become more data-driven. There are many different areas including demand generation, pipeline management, forecasting, and numerous others where improved data analysis can have a positive impact.” —Michael Manne, VP of Sales, Namely

“We would be foolish to not to at least consider what the role of AI in sales will be two or three years down the line…As an industry, we’ve got 15 years of CRM data. How that gets applied, and what artificial intelligence applications might be available—that’s something everybody needs to be considering.”—Jeff Hoffman, Educator, Speaker, and Leader, MJ Hoffman and Associates

B2C is the model for B2B

Consumers are becoming more demanding than ever. With the immense amount of information available on the internet—and many possible substitutes—buyers are extremely well-informed. They’re also expecting a better sales, customer, and user experience than their recent predecessors. Addressing those expectations places a new burden on sales to deliver greater value and intentionality to each unique prospect.

“B2C experiences raise buyers’ expectations for what will happen in the B2B buying process. Over time, the sales industry will be more receptive to buyer demands and more nimble in meeting them.” —Deb Calvert, President, People First Productivity Solutions

“B2B buyers are acting like B2C buyers now—a lot of millennials are turning to the web to do research. So the next step is for sales and marketing teams to engage with buyers based on their behavior.”—Olivier L’Abbe, SVP of Sales, G2 Crowd

Alignment is essential

A business with an excellent sales team is well-poised to succeed in the market. But sales alone doesn’t build a business. As a sales leader, consider the entire customer life cycle—from first call to end user. Sales teams that work closely with their counterparts in product, marketing, customer experience, and finance will be better prepared and enabled to win over prospects and close deals.

“More progressive businesses are moving towards a unified view of the customer life cycle, where you have sales, marketing and customer success under a single leader, which might be a chief revenue officer or chief customer officer. Where this alignment exists between sales, marketing, and success is going to blur even further than it has already and will really change the entire go-to-market strategy.” —Marko Savic, CEO and Founder, FunnelCake

Personalization is the key to close

We each receive thousands of messages a day—from rapidly expanding inboxes to billboards on our drive home. For sales teams to cut through the noise, radical personalization is necessary. Every point of contact should be custom-designed to move the buyer further down the sales funnel and closer to a close. Mass email templates simply won’t compete with an email that targets specific buyer pain points or provides information based on previous interactions.

“Account-Based Marketing is a beast that no one’s really been able to tackle, but I’m seeing it more and more with Account-Based Selling, where sales teams have dedicated accounts and they’re actually taking the time to write personalized messages to individuals in those accounts. People don’t want to be hounded or mass-emailed anymore.”—Michelle Pietsch, Senior Director of Sales, Drift

Training is non-negotiable

Too often, sales leaders want massive outputs—high revenue numbers—without the right inputs. That’s why well-designed training and sales enablement are becoming the silver bullet for sales teams across the globe. With an intentional sales training plan and a software tool like Lessonly that balances powerful features with ease of use—sales leaders have the ability to help their reps succeed like never before.

“Sales training will change. There will be a lot more virtual, just-in-time training and more ways to get knowledge as you need it…It’s really about immersion on the job—through peers, an onboarding program, ongoing coaching, and just-in-time learning.” —Lori Richardson, CEO and Founder, Score More Sales

Lessonly powers the sales teams of the future

Want to stay ahead of the curve? Sales is constantly changing and Lessonly is committed to helping our customers manage change at scale and close more deals. Take a tour today to learn how. Or download The Future of Sales ebook to read more about the trends impacting the sales industry.

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