The world, more specifically the human world, is changing and moving at lightning speed, adapting and evolving, and getting more complex by the day, to the point where it is becoming too overwhelming for many. Just when we need to be able to really think about and manage complexity, there is a flight to the simplistic to just cope with the day to day. Simple solutions, easy fixes are called for on a daily basis. Many people want a short list of bullet points to give them the answer to make a complex decision. However, simplistic answers to complex problems do not work.
Or they go the other way looking to de-risk every nook and cranny by involving 25 people (slight exaggeration) in the decision making process or resorting to an overwhelming procurement process that is so risk adverse no one would meet the criteria which causes unending delays and extensions in the sales cycle that really affect pipeline management and forecasting which affects business confidence.
This might sound terribly pessimistic, I don’t mean to be; however, this is how it can feel when everything around us is being challenged, turned upside down or discarded.
Couple this with an interesting international political scene and various country leaders offering a variety of leadership styles, some very dubious and others very progressive. We have an interesting mix, the likes of which we have not seen before.
The good news is that with all these changes we are creating many new opportunities, sometimes too many to comprehend.
We are in a state of flux.
Where to start? What to focus on? How do we keep our heads while everyone else is losing theirs?
We are at a tipping point where old world business models are clashing with new digital models and a new consumer, human-centred ethos. Metaphorically and actually, we are seeing a clash between the ‘fossil fuel mindset’ of business and the ‘renewable clean energy mindset’ to business.
It’s creating a clash of ideas, ideologies, of cultures. We are at a major point of change in human society.
The 2018 Sales Trends Report – State of Flux, seeks to highlight the changes in sales – buyers and sellers, sales cultures, sales leadership, sales strategies, and bring to the fore the core elements that we need to drive better and more sustainable performance and highly functional sales team.
All of these elements and others are now coming together now, converging and bursting right in front of us. Let’s not be the ones who let them take us by surprise leaving us scrambling trying to get a sure footing.
Let’s embrace this complexity.
Let’s bring together what we know to be true and take it up a notch or two.
Here is a brief insight into the 12 Sales Trends for 2018
- The Selling Better Manifesto
We need a better sales philosophy that supports a fairer, more sustainable and prosperous world. Far from the aggressive dog-eat-dog sales cultures of the 20th century, the 21st century offers other options, other ways of engaging and working collaboratively with customers, suppliers, and each other. The Selling Better Manifesto is about long term and sustainability, recognising everybody lives by selling something and a focus on working towards a fair exchange of value for mutual prosperity. Take a look and see how it aligns with your world view and values on doing good business.
- The case for long-term focus
It’s time to rethink strategy. It’s no news that most businesses are focused on the short-term, living from quarter to quarter, and that although there’s an ongoing argument about whether there’s enough evidence or not to say that long-term businesses perform better, most of the arguments against it (pro short-term) focus only on profits. However, this sales trend reports that there are increasingly louder calls for businesses to be more long-term focused in their planning and strategies because the results are proving the long term approach it far more sustainable and profitable.
- Human Centred Selling: designing empathetic customer centric cultures
The prevailing dominant sales methods we have endured for the past 60 years have been based on self-interest, isolation and calculation. The 21st century is calling for something more human – human-centred selling. Replacing the 20th century archaic drivers with empathy, collaboration, and cooperation means we can meaningfully and consistently connect and engage with each other, we can ignite real opportunities and viable business.
- Buyer behaviours, AI and the future of sales roles
According to Gartner Research, 2015, by 2020, 85% of interactions between businesses will be executed without human interactions. This sales trend is focused on how buyers’ behaviours are changing with the rise of digital engagement and buying, and the impact this is having on sales roles across both B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) channels. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and not all roles are doomed, but these dramatic changes do require many of us to step up and bring to the fore our very best human skills in communication, empathy, kindness, ideas generation, problem solving, creativity, and delivering real value.
- Procurement in the future: Humans need not apply
Procurement of the future will not be about purchasing. It will be about the three-pronged management areas of supply, risk, and brand. Our world is not stable. We are living in an era of increased technology disruption, added to the traditional disruptions of geopolitics and natural events. As a result of this instability, the traditional approaches of procurement are not sustainable. You should not negotiate annually with your established networks of suppliers or sources. Instead, the procurement roles of today and tomorrow should be about supply management.
- Moving CX and HX: really it’s all about people now
The terms Customer Experience and Customer Centric have been around for some time. These terms are now referred to in shorthand as CX. Now a new term is emerging – HX, the Human Experience. What does all this mean? Aren’t they the same thing? This sales trend explores the terms CX and HX and helps put into perspective the old and the new when it comes to creating a competitive winning edge in sales and business.
- Sales Leadership: the power of preparedness, curiosity and courage in times of flux
The state of flux we are experiencing is bringing about a shift in the top key qualities required to be an effective business executive and leader. It’s not necessarily a completely different set of qualities, but a change in their order of relevance for navigating a changing, ‘fluxy’ kind of world. This sales trend explores what are the essential characteristics and qualities of effective business and sales leaders and what business executives can do to deal with these paradoxes and be ready for the challenges ahead.
- How sales and marketing can excel in a world in flux
Who’s in flux? The Buyer. They have dramatically changed how they identify, evaluate and purchase solutions over the past 10 years, and they continue to evolve. Every member of the buyer team for B2B and considered B2C purchases has instant mobile access to the information they need throughout each stage of their purchasing process. Even when they are fully engaged with us, they are constantly interacting with our competitor’s information. As a result, marketing and sales are in flux.
- Personal Branding is a must have asset
As technology and the internet have evolved, our access to information has also vastly grown. Never before has it been so easy to find out so much about a product or a person. With a simple Google search, one can find pages of information regarding someone’s career, achievements, education, and even what they have shared online. This ease of access to data has made the buying process significantly easier and less risky for everyone involved. In B2B environments, consumers are looking as closely at the salesperson as they are at what they are buying.
- Storytelling: taking our sales teams beyond features and benefits
We all grew up hearing and sharing stories through childhood and adulthood – they help us learn, develop, and above all, they entertain and inspire us. Brands today are increasingly incorporating storytelling into their sales and marketing strategies in order to resonate with their customers. This sales trend is focused on the increasing importance of the art and science of storytelling in sales and marketing, taking our sales teams beyond presenting features and benefits.
- Sales cycle: taking longer (much longer)
In a B2B business environment, the sales cycle is usually defined as the days/weeks/months that pass from the first time a salesperson makes contact with a lead to the moment the client signs the contract. However, most definitions of ‘sales cycle’ have flaws because it’s nearly impossible to have one definition applicable to every business. Sales cycles vary enormously from industry to industry and organisation to organisation. This sales trend is seeing sales cycles becoming unprecedentedly long and more unpredictable. When some years ago businesses could know for sure that their sales cycle was 10 weeks or 6 months, now it has become unknown territory – in the current state of flux, there is no predictability that businesses can rely upon.
- Sales Coaching: at the core of sales success
In recent years, sales leadership coaching has continuously grown in acceptance by the managers involved in this task, as well as in its meaningful incorporation into the overall sales architecture of sales organisations. It has shifted from being an additional Learning & Development opportunity to becoming a central and critical part of the overall evolution modern sales operations are going through.
Get access to the full version of 12 Sales Trends for 2018 57 page report here.