When I started in sales, it was modern (for the time) – I had a pager, took orders on paper, had to use a pay phone to call the office, received faxed orders and drove my fully expensed company car into London just to park it and walk almost everywhere.
Being a forward-thinking organisation (Xerox), we were experimenting with new-fangled innovations like email communication, a paper CRM system and even a laptop to share in our region.
It sounds like something out of the dark ages doesn’t it?
How things have changed!
But actually, have they?
Well, of course the real answer is that some things have and some things haven’t.
There is so much hyperbole spoken out there about sales, so clear your mind and take a really good look at this list.
Never mind the last 30 years or so, even within the last 5 years, the sales landscape has changed hugely. There are lots of factors at play but here are some of the big ones (and yes, chances are you’ll read this list and wonder which are real and which are just something else to worry about).
So here goes – which do you recognise?
⭐ younger generations have a preference to buy without involving a sales rep at all
⭐ machine customers, influencer marketing and emotional AI are changing the sales landscape
⭐ salespeople will become obsolete in the future
⭐ salespeople will not become obsolete in the future
⭐ FOMO is real
⭐ You’ve got to be a trusted adviser or you’re toast
⭐ The things buyers value are not necessarily the same things that sales managers value
⭐ If you have 11 stakeholders in a deal, that means you have a potential 55 touch points (there is a brilliant diagram to illustrate that) BUT never mind the sales person, how tough is that on the buyer???
⭐ Hybrid and digital are the fastest growing types of sales teams
⭐ You still can’t beat actually speaking with your customers and asking them what they want
⭐ Cold-calling is dead
⭐ Warm-calling is the new cold-calling
⭐ Messaging is the way (except when it isn’t)
⭐ There is a resurgence in old school techniques such as snail mail
⭐ Sales people have never followed up enough and still don’t follow up enough
⭐ With a gazillion different ways of measuring the metrics, you are still working with flawed, irrational, emotional and illogical human beings, who get sick, take holidays and have bad days, so how useful are the numbers really?
⭐ Your new tech toy is amazing, but you can’t get the sales team to use it properly
⭐ Salespeople are not staying in their roles long enough
⭐ Gen Z won’t use the phone for actual phone calls
… and on and on it goes!
So what does this mean for you?
On the one hand, it has never been so easy to sell, to research, to reach customers or to communicate. The problem with that is that, with low barriers to entry, we (and our customers) are overwhelmed by the sheer number of outreach methods. For example, it is likely that you and your customers are using (among others) all these:
✅Face to Face
✅LinkedIn and other social media
Think about your world. How many emails/messages/phone calls/notes do you get in a day? (and we haven’t even considered internal systems such as Slack, or the MS or Google suites of products).
Now multiply all your channels by all your customers’ channels and we are spending a massive chunk of every day managing hundreds and hundreds of different bits of information. That’s tough on everyone, never mind a sales team who are actively reaching out to clients.
Having said that, some skills are evergreen – rapport building, asking great questions, listening, following a structure, closing, handling objections and following up. Whatever they actually look like, you will need to utilise them.
Then there are the soft skills – emotional intelligence, quick thinking, matching problems to solutions, flexibility, resilience, determination, self-motivation, consistency and enthusiasm.
These skills and qualities are the ones that provide the backbone of your team’s ability to do well. Everything else is just the icing on the cake. Of course, the good news is that once these skills are in place and embedded, they provide the core that enables you to refine further using the latest tech or trends. That gives you true power (and of course, results).
So the question is, how up to date are you and your sales team? Ready for today and what the future holds, or languishing in the past? It’s only going to change faster in the future you know!
Over the upcoming weeks, we are going to be digging deeper into some of these issues – the ones that really impact on your sales team’s ability to perform. We’ll be looking at where you can make the biggest impact and where your focus should be, as well as the new things as they hit.
So what are the biggest issues you want to discuss here? What is causing you the most stress. Please comment below and we will tackle them.