Today’s post is by Mark Magnacca, president and co-founder of Allego.
As we come back to work in the new year – refreshed and ready to hit the ground running – it is once again time for both reflection and planning for the year ahead.
There’s no doubt the business of selling has seen rapid change in recent years, as game-changing technologies and increasing competition have transformed how sales reps develop and deliver compelling presentations, where and when sales training takes place, and even the way reps interact with one another to share information and insights.
As sales teams across the country ring in 2019 at their national sales kickoffs, here are a few predictions we think will become more noticeable in the year ahead.
#1: Collaboration between Sales and Other Organizational Functions
Alignment between sales and marketing has always been top of mind, but 2019 will see increased focus on the alignment of sales with all business functions.
Sales reps on the front lines of customer engagement and intelligence gathering take the pulse of market pressures, customer needs, and prospect demands. With competitive pressures continuously increasing, HR, R&D, legal, and others will begin to see the value in aligning more closely with the real-time feedback and insights from sales.
#2: Team Selling Accelerates
It takes a village to train and enable a sales force in today’s competitive markets – particularly in highly complex or regulated segments such as life sciences and financial services.
Sales teams today need increased knowledge and integration. Salespeople must be willing to share valuable peer-to-peer insights, instruction, and learning with each other.
This team-based approach is critical because sales reps who share knowledge, intelligence, and experience can outperform the individual rep and create significantly greater organizational value. In 2018 we saw teams adopt team selling models and peer-to-peer learning – and adoption will accelerate in 2019.
#3: Sales Compensation Plans Incorporate Team Contributions
For decades, sales teams exalted the star sales rep as a “lone wolf,” but those days are behind us.
However, as cited in prediction #2, market pressures such as increasingly sophisticated products and services, along with more educated buyers, are aligning to make team selling a market necessity.
To help instill this team-centric culture, organizations will begin revising compensation models to value team achievements. Modern technologies can help managers build an internal sales community where reps are encouraged to continuously share insights gained from the field, provide peer-to-peer coaching, and seek knowledge from the wealth of information and experiences their team has attained.
#4: Socially-responsible Purchasing
Socially-conscious buying has been important in consumer purchasing habits for years (think Patagonia). As millennials continue to make up a larger segment of the workforce, we’ll begin to see socially-conscious purchasing and corporate social responsibility (CSR) play a bigger role – not only in B2C, but increasingly in B2B purchase decisions as well.
Therefore, in the coming year, sales reps will need to learn how to carefully position their company as socially responsible during SaaS/B2B sales pitches so they can more effectively influence and sell to multiple generations of buyers.
#5: Personalized Sales Training Moves from Idea to Reality
Sales organizations will continue to recognize the importance of training content that is targeted to reps’ individual needs and specific selling situations.
Instead of one-size-fits-all training materials, sales organizations will realize the value of providing reps with customized skill- and scenario-based learning that aligns with existing competencies, knowledge gaps, active deals, and more. Useful, relevant material motivates learning, and motivated people learn better.
Delivery of this content will be aided by AI and predictive analytics, which will help surface relevant content based on a sales rep’s active deals, their prospect’s stage in the sales funnel, and their individual learning preferences.
2019: The Year Ahead
Looking holistically at these predictions, there’s mounting evidence to suggest that the structure of the sales team will change to reflect a more collaborative and team-based approach to selling – and, for many teams, this change has already begun. With more complex products and increasingly informed buyers, sales team culture and collaborative selling are now more important than ever. As we dive into 2019, keep a close eye out for how these trends will affect your reps and your bottom line.