The theme for Barrett’s 12 Sales Trends for 2013 is ‘Up close and personal’, it’s about people – clients and suppliers connecting, collaborating and creating opportunities together.
This theme is born from the explosion of connection and collaboration options we now have available, especially in the palm of our hands, and the need for people to really connect, collaborate, and do business with other people beyond mere transactions. Barrett has identified the 12 Sales Trends for 2013 to help guide businesses through the major transitions in how we sell and buy. Some of the trends are closely aligned and extensions of each other while others are distinctive enough to stand on their own. Together they foretell major changes in the way we sell, buy and do business.
Today’s business and sales leaders will need to rethink their sales optimisation strategies if they are to thrive in the ever changing political, business, community and environmental landscapes.
The following is a sneak peak of each of the 12 sales trends. You can purchase and download the detailed 49 page report of the 12 Sales Trends for 2013 now to see which sales trends will have the greatest impact on your sales optimisation efforts in 2013.
Trend Number 1: Corporate social responsibility at the sales coal face – no more only ‘what’s in it for me’
Way back in 1953 Peter Drucker stated in his book The Age of Discontinuity “The purpose of business is not to make profit but to satisfy the needs of customers. The consequence of satisfying these needs is incremental profit…”
One of the leading sales trends for 2013 is the shift away from the generally accepted corporate view that everything is about money and profits with a greater emphasis being placed on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), especially at the sales/buyer coal face.
Organisations, by the means of how their products are used and produced and how their services are delivered are in a position to wilfully become more sustainable. Leading by example and helping their suppliers and customers become more sustainable in turn by using their products or services.
What does this really mean for business? Case studies tell us this is not only the “right thing to do” it’s all also good for business results.
Trend Number 2: Customer Experience Management (CX) will Replace CRMs
CRMs got the management part right, but they missed the plot in relationships. More products and services are becoming commoditised and satisfying customers is not enough. Companies now need to do more than manage the relationship; they need to understand their customers’ total experience with the organisation. What is it like to be your customer?
In 2013, Customer Relationship Management systems are going to be replaced with more effective and agile Customer Experience Management (CX) systems. CX is more sales friendly, and salespeople are more likely to use it thus becoming more productive and achieving better sales results.
Trend Number 3: Customers Control the Buying Process
Customers aren’t waiting for salespeople to call on them. More and more salespeople are finding that buyers are putting up barriers because they are doing the pre-purchase work themselves. And one cannot blame them. Most salespeople do little more than regurgitate the company’s story. Instead of fighting the inevitable shift, organisations should be looking at how they can change, before they lose even more control. Buyers today put more importance on the genuine interest salespeople show when they explain how customers can extract value from a purchase than an explanation of how to make a purchase. These days, selling is about the journey rather than merely the purchase.
Trend Number 4: Salespeople Become Financial Managers
It’s a reality that in today’s economic climate companies are devoting considerable attention to cost cutting. However, by comparison, sales organisations are spending very little time and effort improving pricing and margin management practices. The real danger isn’t in the possibility of cutting costs. The danger for companies are those salespeople who fail to understand the difference between cost and value or who are unable to articulate an effective value proposition. In today’s high pressure sales environment the impact of cost cutting, price and margin management tend to be ignored. In 2013 salespeople are going to have to learn how to respond in order to protect already hard pressed margins. In fact, the 2013 salesperson is more likely to be a business executive who can sell, than a salesperson who understands business. And along with that business acumen comes an innate understanding of finance and the impact of discounting, pricing and margin management.
Trend Number 5: Going mobile – the rise of Smart Phones in Sales
As Australia deals with the challenge of becoming more globally competitive, organisations are going to make greater use of both increased mobility as well as tele-conferencing using SmartPhone technology. Anecdotal research is showing that Smartphones are giving salespeople an edge in a number of ways and circumventing clunky CRMs. Pretty soon everything will be in the palm of our hands, if it isn’t already. Integration will be the key: those organisations that allow their salespeople to access real time data and connect with their clients via mobile technology will be giving their sales teams a distinct advantage. The technology is not so new but how people and organisations harness its power in the coming years will break new ground.
Trend Number 6: Marketing (as we know it) is dead
Traditional marketing – i.e. advertising, PR, branding and corporate communications – has failed. The reality is that the Internet, smart-phones and social media have changed the world of sales and marketing. Both Sales and Marketing professionals saw the change coming. Sales evolved into “Solutions Selling” and Marketing re-labelled the same old techniques.
So, what is Solutions Selling and what can Marketing do to keep up with the times (and with Sales)?
Trend Number 7: Breaking the chain of ignorance – upping the pace of transformation
It is not enough to adapt to change, we need to keep ahead of the curve and continue to transform ourselves before the change arrives – being pragmatic and conservative will be a riskier strategy than taking risks to transform. But the risks don’t need to come from the unknown. The key to this transformation is right before our eyes – it’s in our organisation’s own value chain. Smart companies are connecting the dots – the people dots. This sales trend is all about alignment and engaging all the people in your business with your Purpose, your story, the business of your business, the way forward. What you say you want, what you really want and what you reward, all have to be in alignment. If people are ignorant of what you stand for then it is time to break that chain of ignorance. And then everybody will understand that selling is everybody’s business.
Trend Number 8: Empathy – the new sales edge
With the shift away from product as central to the complex sale and business and markets becoming more intertwined, people are now featuring more at the heart of viable business relationships. The challenge will be to reconcile the prevailing norms of the cool headedness of the analytical thinking brain and the risk taking brain of the ‘cowboy’ entrepreneur with the empathetic moral compass brain as we navigate and manage the impact of our decisions on individuals, customers, suppliers and communities. This sales trend is seeing smart businesses making it a priority to redress the balance and develop our brains’ Interpersonal sensitivities: our empathetic side to take into account the needs of others as well as our own needs – working more in collaboration for the mutual benefit of each other while maintaining the best of analytical thinking and risk taking. Now is the time to reconcile and place equal importance on developing the empathetic parts of our brain as our new sales and business edge
Trend Number 9: The University of Selling
An effective sales function is at the core of a company’s ability to generate the revenue needed to sustain the business and grow. However, selling as a career is disrespected by management and academics. No one chooses Selling as a career.
There are many reasons for this, but four stand out:
- The history of selling that started the rot
- High jacking of sales by marketing in the 1960’s
- The lack of understanding of the role of salespeople by management
- The state of denial that many salespeople live with
The good news is that now with the partnership between Barrett and Swinburne University of Technology, the Barrett Sales Essential Transformation Program is Australia’s first University endorsed, VET accredited Sales Program that offers both a Diploma in Business and a Certificate IV in Business Sales.
Trend Number 10: Instant Access to Solutions
In 2013 the Web will make salespeople more, not less important. Too often headlines report that buyers are turning to the Internet to do their shopping, leaving salespeople and companies out of the loop. Instead what the Web has done is created a new set of expectations amongst customers. Today customers expect much more from salespeople. They expect salespeople to have an expert’s view of their business, act as a manager of some crucial part of their process and be effective at protecting the customer’s interests within the sales organisation. Those salespeople and companies that are not easily accessible, that take too long to respond or to deliver are going to find themselves at the back of the line, with the more agile, responsive and nibble footed salespeople and sales organisations taking the lion’s share of the business.
Trend Number 11: Sales Leadership in uncertain times – stop managing & start leading
Extreme uncertainty is the new norm. Living in a constant state of fear and anxiety only leads to more fear and anxiety. Research shows that highly distracted or stressed people don’t and can’t innovate and change and without purposeful leadership and reason to change people will stand still and be left behind, trampled in the rush to the future. This sales trend predicts managers of all persuasions, especially sales managers, will have to take on leadership roles and reduce their dependence on ‘processes only management’ and technical gadgets to ‘fix’ sales and business productivity issues. Smart companies realise that great leaders are great enablers. Taking risks to design and develop sales teams of the future will be the hallmark of these new sales leaders along with building and earning trust and respect for all the right reasons. Smart companies are realising they need their sales mangers to shift from being ‘super salesmen’ (as many are still today) to being effective sales leaders.
Trend Number 12: Delivering Real Value beyond product & price
In the 21st Century the intangible is more valuable than the tangible. Products, services and technology can all be replicated by a competitor but people, ideas and relationships cannot. In other words, the organisation must be viewed as the source of these intangible qualities rather than the product. This sales trend highlights the real value of our offerings lies in intellectual property: the knowhow and wisdom of our people and how they interact with our businesses and our markets. The bottom line is that if you don’t value intellectual property then you don’t value relationships, you don’t value ideas and you don’t value thinking. You are on the path to obsolescence. In this sales trend we will see that in the 21st Century we need to harness the power of our thinking, our people and our stories to add value beyond our traditional products and services.
Purchase and download the detailed report of the 12 Sales Trends for 2013 now to see which trends will have the greatest impact on your sales efforts in 2013.
You can also get free downloads of the detailed Sales Trends Reports for 2012, 2011 and 2010 here.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.