ATD recently posted an article highlighting insights from their report, "Success in Selling: Developing a World-Class Sales Ecosystem". The article focuses on 12 sales industry trends, listed below, that are shaking up old school mentality and pushing sales into a new era.
- Rise of Empowered Buyers
- Sales Force Verticalization
- Shift from "FAB" to "Solution" to "Insight" Selling
- Blurring Lines Between Sales and Marketing
- Adoption of Hybrid Sales Model
- On-Demand Availability
- Omnipresent Social Media
- Analytics-Based Prospecting
- Multigenerational Sales Teams and Customer Teams
- Globalization of Teams and Customer Base
- Use of "Win" Analytics to Gain Learner Insights
- Emergence of Integrated Learning Environments as a Necessity
Several of the trends jumped out to me as particularly important.
The third trend listed, "Shift from "FAB" to "Solution" to "Insight" Selling" is all about credibility and trust. It's no surprise that the sales professionals you enjoy most don't feel like they are selling to you. They are building a relationship with you and showing that their top concern is making your life better. They want to help you so much that you are pleasantly surprised by their attention to detail and granular knowledge about your challenges and opportunities. It reminds me quite a bit of the concepts discussed in the book Challenger Sale, which you should read through if you haven't - very interesting!
Now more than ever, it's it critically important to "[Blur] Lines Between Sales and Marketing". In fact, Forrester recently reported that "74 percent of business buyers conduct at least half their research online before they talk to anyone about making a purchase." They have already compared price, quality, company values, and everything they can via website and social media before interacting with a sales rep. Why? Because we are in an age of constant consumption. We are always reading an article or watching a video; we tweet, we post, we pin, we are constantly consuming brands and their products. The more the two can coordinate, the better the overall sales experience will be for the end customer (and everyone in between).
Easier is Better.
"On-Demand Availability" - aka how to make it easy to access content whenever it's needed. As the article points out "this trend continues to reduce the need for exclusive in-person selling activities, while contributing to reduced cost and improved productivity of the sales force." Step 1? In order to achieve on-demand availability, your sales warriors need the appropriate devices and software.
Learning is on the Rise.
Notice the twelfth and final trend doesn't just say "Integrated Learning Environments" it says "Emergence of Integrated Learning Environments as a Necessity". That's because it's not a new concept, it's just finally getting recognized as an integral part of the selling system. About time, right? One of many drivers of this trend is the fact that the new salesforce prefers to learn this way. I can't blame them, integrated learning is rich, active and learner-focused.
All 12 of these trends bring up really interesting concepts to think about, but 12 is quite the number of to-dos to tackle. If you're ready to attack it evaluate the list first to see if you can already check-off the box for any of the trends, then take the remaining and prioritize from most important to least important and start to build strategies for how to implement them in way that makes sense for your organization.
Here's something else that's trending.
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