Timothy Hughes – 14.3k followers
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Sales will evolve three ways in 2018
- GDPR will impact salespeople globally, killing the cold email.
- Data is the thing that will give salespeople competitive edge, from account based intelligence to tracking prospect intent data on the web. (And of course all leads can be dropped into CROM so you can track the ROI of social).
- Finally, this actually happened in Europe in 2017, but we expect the US and Australia to catch up in 2018, that is that social selling will become selling, business as usual.
Paul Lanigan – 10.9k followers
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At the lower end of the spectrum (Transactional & B2C sales) more automation & AI will be employed and these jobs are the most vulnerable.
At the upper end (B2B Sales) there will be a greater relevance on communication technologies such as video, in order to bring buyers & sellers closer together.
Its often touted that given the choices and options available to buyers the modern buyer relies less on salespeople. I believe however that too many options serve just to confuse the buyer and so paradoxically buyer enabling technology such as the world wide web means that buyers more than ever need salespeople to help them navigate through the options available.
Jonathan Farrington – 117k followers
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There is an air of inevitability that at some point, in the not too distant future, many of the tasks now routinely handled by “salespeople” will become automated – in fact, it is already happening.
Commoditization virtually eliminates seller-buyer human interaction and it is, of course, due largely to buyer’s new affection for online trading, sales organizations desire to capitalize on the breadth of audiences they can reach, and the lower costs of sales and delivery.
However, it would be foolhardy to not anticipate that, as buyers continue to become increasingly self-educated about our products, companies and our market sector, the sales role in many industries will undoubtedly become diminished. At the top end, the role of sales is shifting to a consulting model that brings expertise in the areas of business, industry, company, stakeholder, and capabilities.
While the role of the order taker salesperson will go the way of the Internet, for the complex sale for the foreseeable future, the role of the salesperson is secure. There will always be a place for professional business consultants – the “Top 5% Players.” These people consult more than sell, as they assist their clients in making sound buying decisions.
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Marcus Cauchi – 10k followers
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I believe there will be increased need to develop a strong social selling system that delivers reliable results will be high on the agendas of top performers.
I also believe there will be a push towards greater sales automation putting many order takers’ jobs at risk.
My clients are seeing much greater pressure in the market from procurement on both prices and trying to block salespeople from engaging directly with buyers who have an emotional attachment to buying solutions to their problems. This is an important reason why social selling is going to become even more vital.
I am convinced recruitment and retention of top talent are going to become even greater competitive differentiators in both sales and sales management.
I am seeing the impact great vs average/weak managers has because great managers focus on the right end of their job (hiring the best and getting the best out of them and replacing the weakest salespeople by hiring up – hiring better ones than the one who has just left) while weak managers will drive their people harder, focus on managing the numbers not the behaviours and find themselves standing still or going backwards.
I suspect smart investors will start auditing the sales process and sales team including management before they invest or acquire as this will determine the real value of their investment.
Investors (and smart management) will also be looking for (to establish) a strong Sales Operating Model to identify, qualify and mobilise the best sales teams and best resources behind the best opportunities at speed. Efficiency, profitability, predictability, consistency are vital to be competitive.
Negatively, I suspect there will be a huge uplift in tools that harm sales because logically and cosmetically they look and sound good – again, more around automation, online visibility of pricing, more push for top-down CRM implementations. More social media gurus will peddle their story cold calling is dead. I suspect there will be pressure to legislate against it and with the introduction of GDPR in Europe there will be many companies that fall foul of the changes.
I’m a bit of a curmudgeon and not naturally prone to optimism, so I also suspect there will be an economic downturn despite all the hype from government, politicians and central banks. That will cause people to tighten their budgets and think they should stop spending> good salespeople won’t be affected; bad salespeople will die on the vine and their employers fire them in droves along with marketing and HR (ironic since these are the very people they need to turn the corner). Budgets on training will be cut, people will fritter it away on cost-saving consultancies who will drive down prices and destroy relationships with suppliers and while they offer a short-term reduction in costs, at what price does that come? Goodwill has a price.
I hope that gives you some food for thought.
Gavin Ingham – 6.9k Followers
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Over the last few years, sales has become easier and harder. Sales professionals have access to information, data, trends, history, people, events, and personal opinions that we could not have dreamed of when I was a nipper!
That said, with every action comes an equal and opposite reaction and many salespeople have got lost in the multitude of new tasks that come with it. With the growing disease of “mobilephoneitis”, many are glued to their phones constantly checking multiple streams and believing everything they read from every self-appointed expert that this constant noise is a good thing.
Many are struggling to focus on the tasks that really make them money, or sales processes that actually make sales. There is a huge difference between being busy in pursuit of a goal and just being a busy fool!
With the rise in automation, technology and AI, some basic sales roles are going to fall by the wayside. This will leave opportunity for those who can stay focused on real, proven strategies; those who make the effort to really know their clients (not just stalk them); and those who combine the best of the old and the best of the new to add value.
2017 was an “interesting” year. I expect 2018 will be similar and virtually anything could happen – politically, socially or technologically. If you want to stand out in your industry and with your clients, good enough is not good enough anymore; you will have to be the best that you can be. You will have to show that YOU genuinely bring value to the process.
That will be a huge problem for some and a huge opportunity for others!
Lee Bartlett – 6.6k Followers
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We are going to start hearing a lot more about “innovation” within companies. Innovation is becoming increasingly formalized and a multifaceted process of management driven “top-down” initiatives, and employee driven “bottom-up” initiatives are being adopted to generate new ideas and stay competitive.
This requires a cultural shift and presents many challenges. For example, how do companies open collaboration channels, nurture their collective talent and insight, optimize the continuous feedback loop, and who owns these new processes? How does this relate to sales?
Customer-driven innovation is gleaned by salespeople, so the 2018 sales professional must ask customers the relevant business-critical questions to drive innovation within their company. It’s a deeper conversation than selling a product.
Daniel Codd – 12.9k Followers
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I foresee an increase in Sales Learning platforms coming to market. This will address the overwhelming need to increase training and mentoring of new and seasoned sales staff.
As if it wasn’t prominent enough in 2017, the push to create personal brands and original content will be real in 2018.
I have talked about it in my own posts already this year so this will come as no surprise. Where are voice and AI taking us? Are they going to be something that starts to revolutionise the way salespeople work? Certainly at a retail level voice will have a massive impact this year.
Where I believe there will be a really big shake-up is around the “funnel creation zone”. The SDR/BD/Marketing channels all colliding. With the increased use of AI, Voice and content creations bringing clients directly to your door, how will more traditional methods play within this mix? Are these just new tools or completely new ways of doing business?
No matter what happens this year, 2018 is certainly going to be a year of paradigm shifts.
Caroline Robinson – 1k Followers
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I expect that we will see a continuation of trends we were already seeing in 2017, not a fundamental shift in a different direction.
Social selling will become more influential across a broader range of industries/sales situations, more salespeople will embrace it but it will become harder to stand out. Those that succeed will get high levels of engagement and turn that into preliminary sales conversations, not just push a lot of content out.
Economic uncertainty tends to slow decision-making and push decisions higher, especially in larger businesses. This looks set to continue whether it’s a UK market you are selling into, or more of a global one. The key to success here is to maintain the right attitude, firmly believing there is a wealth of opportunity out there. Many people get paralysed by tougher economic times and think/behave their way into poorer results – that creates an opportunity for those who maintain the right attitude and their behaviour levels. Companies with the right attitude choose this as a great time to invest in their people, believing it gives them an edge that will enable to them to thrive, not just survive.
Overall this means there will be even less room for salespeople who have got by as order takers, benefiting from good territories, instead there will continue to be a greater need for salespeople to really add value in the sale. For many salespeople to achieve this it will take an investment of time and money to improve their attitude, behaviour and techniques. The good news is that there is an absolute wealth of resources online to support that, whatever your sales environment.
A trend I would like to see is more women is sales and progressing into sales management. There aren’t any gender differences in ability, but it is still a very male-dominated industry. When sales is done well it’s an honourable and rewarding profession in many ways so should be as attractive for women as men.