Today’s post is by Mark Magnacca, president and cofounder of Allego.
It’s been another year of twists and turns for sales professionals. In early 2015, Forrester predicted 1 million U.S. B2B sales jobs would be lost by 2020. Six months later, the wave of panic died down when a subsequent Forrester report stated it wasn’t that sales reps would be laid off by the masses, but rather the type of sales skills required to best service modern B2B buyers would shift. How you prepare your sales force for the future is now more important than ever.
Here are our predictions on the five trends that will shape sales in 2016.
Trend #1: Training event budgets will decrease.
Studies show that, within 90 days of a training event, 80 percent or more of the information given during the event is forgotten. But the national sales meeting isn’t going away any time soon. Instead, companies will shift funds to emphasize ongoing coaching and training. Sales organizations are catching on to the fact that practice and coaching are key to message absorption, increasing win rates, and implementing methods and tools to reinforce learning.
Trend #2: Video will emerge as a pervasive sales enablement tool.
Studies show that employees spend about 45 minutes a day watching video, with this number likely to double in 2016. Modern sales organizations are already harnessing the power of video to give sales teams a competitive advantage in capturing, curating, and sharing best practices from the field, as well as onboarding reps and providing ongoing coaching to sales reps. Video’s accessibility and ease of use – particularly when coupled with mobile technology – allows sales reps instant access to relevant content they need, when they need it. Knowing that more than 4 billion videos are viewed on YouTube every day, it makes sense that video is being embraced in the workplace.
Trend #3: Social selling will become ubiquitous.
We know that social media is an incredibly powerful tool for identifying and researching prospects, which is why – for several years now – the trend of social selling has been popping up on year-end predictions lists. However, all selling is social, which is why we’ve never differentiated between “networking-with-friends selling” or “going-to-networking-events selling.” Social selling will become a standard practice, so much that the label “social” will eventually get dropped and it simply becomes just another part of selling.
Trend #4: Sales and marketing teams will become more closely aligned.
The success of your sales organization depends on this interlock. Teams are realizing their co-dependence, and actually beginning to embrace it. Sales teams need collateral and content generated by marketing to drive and convert leads. To better craft content, marketing needs sales to provide customer insights, objections raised, and competitive intelligence. Sure, there will always be finger pointing between sales and marketing, but it will be balanced with high-fives.
Trend #5: Org charts and reporting structures will morph.
As the alignment between sales and marketing becomes stronger, we’ll see new roles pop up – like sales enablement director – that bridge the gap between the two departments. Furthermore, roles will continue to shift, with more CMOs overseeing sales as well as marketing. Even in organizations with a dedicated head of sales, it will become increasingly common for inside sales teams to report to the CMO. These shifts reinforce the importance of establishing regular and open dialogue between sales and marketing.
With better collaboration, training, and technology, smart organizations set themselves on a path to capture market share in the New Year. The year 2016 is anyone’s game – and it can be yours.