05th Oct, 2018
, , Designation
Sales is an interesting job.
Relying majorly on human skill.
Accountable for revenues and customer loyalty.
This premise of sales hasn’t changed despite the crazy speed at which technology has driven almost all the business functions to undergo change. Technology has in fact put in more pillars to support the premise, refining the sales process, skills and making salesperson exemplary.
As Grant Cardone, sales expert and author of Sell or Be Sold: How to Get Your Way in Business and in Life, said “Great salespeople are literally the engine of every economy in the world.”
Seeing the mirror
Before we time travel to 2030, not a very distant future though, let’s attempt to profile the salesperson of today. Today’s salesperson has the option of reducing the drudgery of pounding the pavements by leveraging the digital prowess and technological advancements to profile, contact and connect with potential customers before even sitting face-to-face with them. Of course, being tech-savvy is an ‘added feather to the cap’ and not the norm still.
Typically, the salespersons are oriented towards only providing the service offering that fits customers’ business model, with no/ limited focus on the creation of value-chain. And in that context, researches highlight that 79% of business buyers say it’s critical to interact with a salesperson who is a trusted advisor adding value to their business, and not just a sales rep.
Further, while B2B buyers have moved onto a digital-first world, B2B sellers are still on the way. Forrester data shows that digital selling models shall outpace the traditional salesperson and it predicts that around 1 million sales representatives will be out of a job by 2020. This brings to the forefront the question pertaining to the requisite sales skill of the future.
In the Cards
The marketplace is changing, business needs are changing and so will change the knowledge and skill-base of a salesperson.
A data enthusiast all the way!
A norm that will be built step-by-step with the advent of emerging technologies to make sense of the wealth of data and information therein. Gartner ratifies this in its report stating that by 2022, two-thirds of all customer experience projects will make use of IT. These technologies shall be invariably employed to fast track sales journey cycle.
The salesperson would be able to interpret the data, discern its story, identify opportunities and capitalize on them, gain insights on the fruitful sales activities and not so much successful sales initiatives and take informed decisions. His sales strategy shall focus on shortening his cycle to connect with the consumer.
Smart CRM Tools and Sales Force Automation (SFA) platforms shall help the sales person to use Natural Language and sensors to capture market information in real-time. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine learning (ML) tools within the sales enablement arena are going to be commonplace. Machine learning enabled extraction, database and sales analytics shall help in profiling the prospects.
It will help in streamlining the lead qualifying process and would also play a major differentiator by empowering salesperson to identify the minutest details that could make a major difference in closing the deal.
While the data insight will provide inputs to targeted prospecting what will be equally important is the way salesperson uses this information to engage further. Gartner at Customer Experience Summit 2018 mentioned that by 2020, 30 percent of all B2B companies will employ artificial intelligence (AI) to augment at least one of their primary sales processes.
Like excel proficiency is a critical requirement for a data analyst similarly knowledge of these tools will become critical for sales teams going forward. Deeper domain knowledge will still be a necessity and the speed with which information will be leveraged, shall be the main vantage point of two similar tech savvy sales profile candidates.
A Social expert who doubles up as a consultant
Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 report says that around 83% of B2B marketers confirm that social media is the tactic their organizations use most for sales closure. Another research points out that 92% senior executives agree that social media majorly influence their purchasing decision.
Brands will enhance their presence online and so our salesperson will need to use their social presence to position themselves as domain experts. The success metrics of sales will transform – from selling units to customer success engagement.
In keeping with this transformation, the role of salesperson will also evolve from just being a seller to that of a trusted advisor and consultant for his customer. Ability to communicate, partner with customers throughout the lifecycle journey will define the strength of the brand and build loyalty to avert competition.
A Collaborator who sees the Big Picture
The salesperson, with the understanding of various sales enablement technologies and their play in creating value chain to customer’s business, will come on the foreground. As opposed to merely providing service offerings to fit into a customer’s business model, he/she would bring in agility and ensure that it fits into both the prospects’ as well as overall business strategy.
This shall be pertinent requisite in the face of global mergers & acquisitions and consolidations that shall fast-track the real-time dynamics and with it the entire sales eco-system.
The sales representatives will be adept at managing complex business set-ups and stakeholders brought in by emerging consolidations and collaborative business models. Since this would shift the responsibility will change from a single decision-maker to multiples point of contacts thus impacting sales closures.
The path to ‘great salesmanship’ is the expertise in forging ‘Relationships’ – it is this ‘R’ which is the difference between ‘Contact’ & ‘Contract’.
Knowledge, personal development, motivation, and technology will always be an ‘investment’ to invigorate the skills and tools of the sales professional. They need to be continually buffed up. Yet, adapting to the changing market dynamics, building trust of the customers would still be the prime area of a salesperson.
So, while sales may not be an easy job, but top-performers thrive in the ‘no-guarantee’ challenges because they know that ‘relationships’ will always be at the core of salesmanship.
What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments section below.