The beginning of the end of sales people as we know them

From Aaron Ross revolutionizing prospecting for SaaS companies by establishing the modern SDR role, to the growth of customer success roles to enhance post-sale relationships, the role of the modern “sales” person has changed drastically.

What does this mean for sales teams? Based on how buyers behave today, sales is a process that requires less and less “salesmanship,”, and more and more project management skills. The next generation of sales professionals will need to develop a well-designed roadmap for success that can be optimized for sellers and buyer types based on data. We need to move towards complete transparency, and more accurate forecasting to be able to truly predict outcomes, and deliver high-value content and thought leadership at the right moments.

There are three major trends and implications to accelerate your sales team in 2016:

1. Sales people will become more like project managers

There is a shift in what it means to be a great salesperson today. The lone wolf still exists, and will still be successful in terms of winning business. However, this individual’s inability to deliver replicability or articulate why s/he is successful will create tension with management as sales organizations strive for rapid growth. We know that turnover is high and ramp time is already 7 – 12 months, so adding a team member who cannot contribute to replicable, scalable growth will create insurmountable issues.

High growth teams will be successful only when they hire agile, tech-savvy, process-oriented individuals. The constantly evolving B2B sales technology landscape requires teams to quickly adopt new technologies that enable them to streamline clearly defined sales processes. The new high performer on your sales team will be the individual who has a more operational approach, can efficiently incorporate new technologies into his/her processes, and is able to utilize this tech to generate insights to constantly optimize.

The best salespeople of the future will not necessarily be extroverted but must be smart, thoughtful educators who understand that most of the time there will be multiple buyers in a process, coach to that, and optimize.

2. The B2B sales professional must adapt to the modern buyers’ needs

We know that the process-oriented, metrics driven, tech augmented salesperson of 2016 is replacing the relationship builder persona, but how should you refine your sales processes to support the modern sales team in the upcoming year?

The general framework for a modern B2B sales process is outlined in The Challenger Sale, where Matthew Dixon explains that “a Challenger is really defined by the ability to do three things: teach, tailor, and take control.” He also clearly distinguishes the Challenger sales person from the relationship builder; while the challenger is “focused on pushing the customer out of their comfort zone, the Relationship Builder is focused on being accepted into it.”

But sales professionals need to do more than build a challenger sales process that focuses on thought leadership and teaching. Future sales leaders will drive the consumerization of the buying process and implement a strategy that is aligned with buyer needs. According to Qvidian, almost 46% of sales leaders report that they need to improve their understanding of the consumer buying process. How can you change this? Are you reaching your buyers on the platforms where they want to connect? Are you delivering content they value? These are the questions you must answer before building a winning sales process in 2016.

3. Consumerization of the buying process will transform your sales organization

Whether it’s G2crowd or another software review platform, the availability of product information is growing. Sales professionals who continue to product dump will be ineffective and providing real industry insights and thought leadership will be more important than ever. Inbound leads will come prepared with product knowledge and a deeper understanding of the market, and outbound leads will have the opportunity to receive good and bad client feedback before even answering a call.

What does this mean for your sales (and marketing) organization? The entire organization must focus on customer success and differentiating from competitors with a strong online presence. Sales, Marketing & Customer Success must be aligned to develop the right content that clients and prospects request, making sure that sales is accessing and delivering that content at appropriate times, and ensuring customer success with educational and thought provoking content.

Sales professionals talk tracks and scripting must also adapt. If prospects have product information readily available, what value can salespeople deliver on calls? Marketing & sales must collaborate to empower reps with valuable industry insights and thought leadership.

Reps aren’t just selling products, they’re reframing the world of their prospects. Your reps must become thought leaders who can intelligently lead prospects to the conclusion that your product is the only solution to their unique problems.

As you refine your business goals and sales processes for 2016, keep these trends in mind and let us know what other future trends you’re leveraging to accelerate your sales processes!

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