I keep having these visions of the very near future. And if you want to rule the sales world, it would help if you knew what was coming.
- Knowledgeable sales people will be less valuable: Instead the sales people whose expertise in communication skills and customer experience skills will rule the sales world. It won’t be what or how much a sales person knows that matters much anymore. Customers and prospects can get so much product knowledge and specs with a wee bit of research online so when they talk to you and work with you in the future, you’ve got to blow them away.
- Salesperson Reputation Management will be a must. That CEO will Google a lot more than your company and will look for you on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn before she agrees to meet with you. Best to remove the silly ball cap off your head in the photo next to your posts. Cold calling? Got thru to the decision maker? Well in the future, he’s reading your twitter posts inside a minute while you’re trying to set an appointment with him. Best to make sure he’s not reading your opinion of Miley Cyrus.
- The DIY (Do It Yourself) play will be DOA. In B2B selling, Do It For Me (DIFM) will be the lead story again. Businesses who early adopted the DIY way ranging from services like do it yourself online marketing products to HR software products are not near the bulk of the populace. Sales organizations who get that a customer wants a “Help me get this done from A to Z” approach will be sales organizations that do the best.
- Research Customer history? Not so much. Knowing a single customer’s history with you will be less and less valuable. If we are honest, a client’s individual history has been a poor predictor of future tastes and buying motives anyway, so don’t obsess over CRM enhancements. Instead, get obsessed with tapping into like customer industry market trends and as Wayne Gretzky says, make sure you “skate to where the puck will be”, not where it is, (or worse, where it was).
- Readers Wanted: Hiring sales people who don’t spend any of their own time self developing or let’s face it even reading will be over. The sales arena methods, processes and tools are more fluid than ever. Sales folks who wait to be spoon fed development just won’t make it anymore.
- Hunters and Farmers will fade away: But there will be Builders. Client loyalty continues to wane. Nothing like the worst recession since the 30’s to shake customer trust too with everyone including suppliers. The Builder sales person will scout new locations to drive leads in new and different ways for sure but they also need to lay the foundations and stick around long enough to cultivate the clients. Do It For Me lasts well past signing on the dotted line and hand offs in a low trust world will be sales killers.
- Micro Networking will be your edge. Associations, BNI and Trade Shows will still be around but it’ll be a mention of you in a blog or a connection in LinkedIn that will get you that meeting with the CEO. These micro networks are a direct response of low levels of trust in the marketplace and it’s in these relatively tiny networks that sales people will flourish.
- Trust and Credibility training will grow. Sales people and sales organizations will heavily invest in content that will focus on building trust. Dollars will be siphoned away from negotiation skills, discovery skills, questioning skills and closing skills. Good. The sales challenges of the future will be creating enough credibility to first be heard.
- Pay to Play Appointments will be the norm. It’s happening already. Used to be incentives were the tools to close sales. In the future it will be just as common to use incentives to get appointments: to be heard. Customers know in media drenched world; that their time is valuable; their attention is valuable and you’ll need to pay for it.
- The Gap between Sales and Marketing will close. Company brand, integration, integrity and touch points are growing in importance and volume. Sales will need to become a consistent extension of Marketing and Marketing will need to rely more heavily on the humans to create and manage the brand.
That’s what I’m seeing. What do you see?
Till next time,
Grow The Business.