As 2013 comes to a close we firstly wanted to thank all our loyal readers for their continued support of our work. We also thought you would like to get a sneak peek of our Annual 12 Sales Trends Report for 2014. With the unprecedented changes we are experiencing as a result of the digital revolution and the commoditisation of quality we can no longer manage sales by processes and numbers alone – it’s become a thinking person’s game. As a result, the Barrett Consulting Group’s annual Sales Trends Report for 2014 has selected the theme: “The Thinking Sales Organisation”. Sales operations are complex systems that involve many variable outcomes making it almost impossible to predict, with any degree of certainty, what will happen. Nothing in sales has ever been predictable. Now, with rampant change, that unpredictability has increased in pace and impact. That is why this Sales Trends report focuses on a number of important variables that will impact the success or otherwise of sales operations in 2014. The following is a sneak peek of each of the 12 sales trends. You can purchase and download the detailed 49 page report of the 12 Sales Trends for 2014 at www.salesessentials.com/shop now to see which sales trends will have the greatest impact on your sales operations in 2014. Sales Trend 1 – Sales Management Will Look to Drive Costs Out of Sales In 2014, sales managers are going to come under increasing pressure to drive costs out of sales. While being effective and generating more business will continue as the main focus of selling, cutting cost out of sales and selling at better margins are going to be the two primary challenges, as management looks to squeeze profits in a market that is somewhat stagnant. As a result there are likely to be five major focus areas including: sales managers redefining sales territories; looking for new and more efficient ways to service low-value customers; and a shift away from volume as an indicator of sales success to a combination of volume and value. Sales Trend 2 – Telesales will have to make dramatic changes With the increasing demands of more sophisticated buyers, telesales operators, who have traditionally focused on the uncomplicated sale of easy-to-understand commodities, are going to have to increase their knowledge base and learn to sell solutions to buyers who are more demanding, more knowledgeable and with higher expectations. This shake up means a radical re-think for telesales operations. Smart companies will see their telesales teams as a vital part of their overall sales operation. Some may even bring back in house those telesales teams that were previously outsourced or off shored. Sales Trend 3 – Sales Excellence Managers will find their real role Smart companies are dispensing with their sales excellence operations and incorporating it back into the sales management function. This sales trend will see sales managers, who are and have always been responsible for sales excellence, face pressure to resume this responsibility and deliver sales excellence. In the process sales excellence managers will either revert to their original role of sales training managers or find themselves being deployed elsewhere in the sales operations chain. Sales Trend 4 – Sales Training Methodologies are going to change Sales training is not going to disappear; however, it will change its shape. As the market becomes more complex and competition more virulent salespeople will need more, not less training. But they will also have less time to be trained. These two forces – increased competition with the need to up skill salespeople and less time for training – will make identifying different training methods key to success. The trend in 2014 will be for companies to reduce the cost of training whilst still developing their salespeople. Blending e-learning with class room work and in-field coaching is going to become the focal point of training in the new year. Sales Trend 5 – The move to Micro Sales Segmentation The complexities of selling in 2014 are going to demand a re-think on the part of sales managers. Relying, as they have in the past, on marketing’s broader brush approach to segmentation is not going to cut it anymore and sales will have to re-assess how it goes about segmenting target markets. As sales is learning, becoming tighter, almost micro market focused, defining the most attractive segments is the function of strategic sales in 2014. Getting it wrong can end up by costing the organisation too much. Sales Trend 6 – The low carbon economy sales opportunities Despite many governments lagging behind in terms of creating and endorsing low carbon policies and industries, forward thinking organisations are taking the lead on creating low / no carbon businesses and partnering with each other. And it’s not just big business, there is a growing number of SMEs (small to medium enterprises) driving change too. There are massively big opportunities for innovation and product/service development in a low carbon economy as well as social evolution. Sales Trend 7 – The normalizing of Social Media in Sales This sales trend is seeing businesses really ramping up their use of social media and in much more sophisticated ways. Rather than seeing social media as a tack on to the marketing budget, smart businesses are now creating their own social media departments who are actively working with sales, marketing and other departments, in concert, to create real-time content that is engaging, relevant and interactive. Sales Trend 8 – A radical shift in sales mindset This sales trend is all about the radical shift in the sales mindset that currently is underway in organisations as prophesised by the Cluetrain Manifesto 15 years ago. Smart companies are moving from competition to collaboration, from ‘me’ to ‘we’. They are involving everyone across their business to be meaningfully connected in some way to the customers. Sales Trend 9 – Procurement need to be solutions salespeople too This sales trend highlights how the skills, knowledge and mindset of procurement professionals are being expanded to include the capabilities of highly competent solutions sales professionals. The latest whitepapers, running commentary threads on Linkedin Procurement Groups across the world, and Procurement Conferences and education bodies are all pointing towards procurement coming of age as a value creator and provider. No longer can procurement rest its case on ‘lowest cost’, ‘cheapest price’ or ‘supply of goods and services’; it must assume responsibility for the creation and delivery of real value beyond a price and general supply. Sales Trend 10 – The Legitimisation of Sales Strategy This sales trend will see Sales Strategy become the hot discipline of business in 2014 and beyond as business leaders work out how to move their sales operations out from under the shadow of Marketing and being a purely tactical function to being a strategic operation that works across the entire business value chain delivering real value and real growth. Sales Strategy will begin to be studied by those charged with managing a sales team as well as other management disciplines to ensure sales and organisational success. Along with business and marketing strategies, sales strategy will take a lead position at the C suite. Sales Trend 11 – Learning to sell in the Asian Century We are already even more reliant upon China for our prosperity than any comparable economy, at more than one quarter of our exports. We are China’s number one destination for foreign investment and a leading beneficiary of the education aspirations of its growing middle class. Yet many of us remain deeply ambivalent about the world-changing economic transformation of China and underestimate our need to be prepared. Smart companies are recognising the need to develop deeper engagement with their Chinese counterparts – in universities, industries and governments. More Australian salespeople will need to study China, travel, live, work and speak Chinese. Sales Trend 12 – The Enlightened Sales Person This sales trend is seeing a new kind of sales person emerging in our midst. Smart companies are becoming aware that they need a new kind of sales person, especially at the higher levels of business. Customers, particularly in the Australian market and increasingly worldwide, are looking for a collaborative, more enlightened approach to selling, where they can work with sales professionals who bring their in-depth knowledge an understanding of how solutions can be applied and who work with their customers who also have an in depth knowledge of their own business and challenges. For the detailed version of the Barrett 12 Sales Trends Report for 2014 please go to www.salesessentials.com/shop to purchase and download your copy there. You can also get complimentary downloads of the detailed Sales Trends Reports for 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 here. Finally, on behalf of the team at Barrett we wish you, your families and teams all the very best for the festive season and look forward to reconnecting in the new year.