It’s an exciting time to be in sales, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of the sales industry transformation. 2015 brought continued transformative trends and dialogue, especially in the way we communicate, engage, educate, and sell to meet changing buyer expectations.
Here are the five trends that have captivated the sales industry in 2015, and what they mean for sales organizations as they look toward 2016:
1 – Customer service starts in sales. A few months ago I authored an article about why the most successful sellers don’t just close doors but open long-term customer relationships. It used to be that sales was a one-and-done transaction: find a customer, close a deal, and pass onto customer support. But with the rise of the Internet, and introduction of social media, where a good or bad customer experience can go viral overnight, every experience with your business matters. Sales organizations that lead with a service mentality and see sales as the first step in a long, ongoing relationship with their customer, will be rewarded with loyal customers, industry credibility, respect, and referral business.
2 – The shift to remote selling has elevated salesmanship. We’re moving toward a world where “inside sales” is quickly becoming simply “sales.” In this changing world sellers have to work even harder to earn the trust of a prospect and win new business. The good news, sales is especially well-suited for the benefits that virtualization can offer. With the shift towards inside sales, traditional inefficiencies (like lost travel time and limited access to resources) are stripped away so that customer interaction, professional development, and relationship building-the core elements of successful selling-can scale to a degree that was never possible before.
3 – The death of sales territories. In this remote selling environment, the buyers’ and sellers’ geographical locations have become almost entirely irrelevant for many sales organizations. The typical buyer doesn’t want you to turn up in their conference room or door step to educate them. Instead, they expect a speedy email or call response. In this situation, someone that is physically nearby is irrelevant – more important is a rep that is available to place a call in a timely fashion, or a rep with a specific set of expertise best suited to the customer’s needs.
4 – Gamification evolved towards Rewardification. Gamification came out of its hype cycle of inflated expectations this year as Gartner and others noted. This drove more discussion around the technologies capabilities and the evolution of this technology category. Gamification has traditionally been the practice of using virtual trophies and badges as an award to reps who are performing well. It’s an interesting concept, but as I’ve discussed before, it is only a small part of the motivation solution. A growing body of sales expert are realizing that the future of motivational technologies is rewardification because of its closer ties to compensation. For example, you might reward a high-performing rep with more and better leads (and therefore a better chance of making a sale). Rewardification is a powerful tool that organizations can use to motivate their sales reps.
5 – Speed alone is an insufficient strategy for driving inside sales results. As the sales acceleration category matures, it is clear there are a lot of tools to help sales reps do more in less time, power dialers being a particularly good example. Unfortunately, for most sales organizations, simply driving more activity is not enough to increase conversion, speed without control can lead sales into chaos. As sales leaders, it’s critical to examine how we can take back control, ensuring the increased activity being driven is producing the desired results.
Each of these discussions ultimately comes back to how we as sales organizations serve our customers better through organizational changes and technology. These conversations have made the sales industry better as a whole. In 2016 the bar for success will continue to rise, as leading organizations evolve to meet a new standard of excellence.
About the author: Nick Hedges is president and CEO of Velocify and a 15 year veteran of the Internet and SaaS industries. Nick has spent the last six years helping organizations accelerate sales performance and recently became an advisory board member for the Association of Inside Sales Professionals. Nick is a Fulbright Scholar, holds an MBA with Distinction from Harvard and a bachelor’s degree from Manchester University.