Sales trends: 10 ways to prepare for the future of sales

When it comes to sales, there’s a widening gap between what buyers want and what sellers want. While buyers are on their own journey — one that isn’t always straightforward or even forward-progressing — sellers are too often trying to move people through a funnel. This has led to a “crisis of complexity” — sales reps get bogged down by familiar levers like hiring more salespeople, spending more marketing dollars, or cutting costs instead of keeping pace with customers and technology. 

Tiffani Bova, Salesforce’s Global Growth Evangelist and the author of Growth IQ, spoke with us recently about the pitfalls that salespeople fall into, and what sales trends and changes teams will have to adopt to adequately prepare for the future of sales. Watch her Prezi video here, or read on for an overview of the ten sales trends you’ll need to address to achieve success.

Top ten sales trends that will drive the future of sales 

  1. Buying habits have forever changed. The pandemic has already drastically altered the way people buy goods and services. But be careful believing that habits will magically snap back to pre-2020 states in the near future. Many buyers will keep their new habits moving forward, so sellers need to keep up.
  1. The negotiating medium is changing. Negotiation used to be a largely in-person experience, but the platforms buyers use have expanded considerably to include email, text, video, and more. It’ll be vital to understand how to negotiate effectively on these other platforms.
  1. The emergence of growth innovation centers. Oftentimes, a “sales transformation” isn’t really a transformation, but a series of disconnected incremental changes. Teams will need to dig deeper into ways to optimize, transform, and innovate to future-proof the organization. 
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  1. The sales process and buying journey will collide more. Typically, these two disparate processes only intersect at the point of sale. But the buying journey is not linear, and sales teams will need to find ways to meet buyers where they are. 
  1. Humans and artificial intelligence (AI) are the new “power couple.” Technology is evolving at a rapid pace, so it stands to reason that the highest-performing sellers will embrace this technology instead of running from it. 66% of sellers’ time is already spent on not selling — turning to AI and technology will better streamline processes and give precious time back to reps. 
  1. The expansion of sales enablement. The term “sales enablement” will not only apply to sellers who carry a quota. Perhaps a more accurate term will be “growth enablement” to cover everything that affects the pipeline, including sales, marketing, and customer service. By honing in on shared goals that are customer-centric, everyone will be driving towards mutual success. 
  1. Teams will collapse. The standard organizational structure consists of multiple teams, but that doesn’t lead to good buying experiences — the customer gets passed around from team to team, each with their own processes and goals. Instead, you should break down silos so that the transition between team members feels more fluid and seamless. 
  1. Customer success, not customer service. Teams must evolve beyond the standard customer service hours, where anyone who asks for help outside of those hours is out of luck. Give people the ability to make customer-centric (not metric-driven) decisions so that they can help customers succeed. 
  1. More focus on return on experience investments (ROEI). Building off that last trend, customer service has to move from being viewed as a cost center to a revenue-generation center. Focusing on excellent customer experiences will lead to higher revenue growth, as will moving away from productivity metrics for stats like NPS, churn, and cross-sell opportunities. 
  1. The rise of the socially-responsible seller. Salespeople play an important role in embracing, sharing, and communicating the values of their brand. Both sellers and companies need to lead with empathy and speak to their customers with honesty and transparency, while also listening to what they really need. 

Be sure to keep these sales trends in mind as you reassess your processes over the next year. And if you have your own tips to help others prepare for the future of sales, be sure to create a Prezi video and tag it with #Sales for a chance to be featured on our Video Gallery.

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