Death of the natural born salesperson? Five sales trends for 2017

Gravestone
istock
Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
Columnist
Share this content

For most sales people, December was a frantic and frustrating month.

It was frantic because we wanted to close down everything that we possibly could, and frustrating because there was really only three weeks in the month. And if you actually got hold of your decision-makers during this time, the chances are, they were often reluctant to make any decisions until the new year.

With that said, targets for the new year are likely being adjusted as we speak (usually skywards), sales directors and managers are giving “rar rar” talks and so-called experts - like me - are coming out with their predictions for the year ahead.

Now, I’m not one to disappoint you so here are my top 5 sales trends for 2017!

The Jerry Maguire mission statement is true

“Fewer clients, more attention”.

For those of you that watched the movie you’ll remember that it ultimately got Jerry Maguire the sack!

With this, Jerry Maguire, a sports agent, (played by Tom Cruise) stayed up all night to create a company mission statement which he distributed to everyone at the company sales conference.

Within the statement he talked about the need to have fewer clients, to give them more attention and to select the right prospects to go for rather than a scattergun approach.

For 2017 he would have been right!

The organisations that will win will stop prospecting by throwing mud up against the wall and hoping some of it will stick.

Instead, they will perform deep research on their target market and their needs and will create laser-like campaigns with a high degree of personalisation.

Support for attention deficient sales reps

Sales people have a short attention span, we all know that (and well done for reading this far)!

So the last thing that most of them want is to be in the classroom for a training course when they should be out there selling and earning commission.

2017 will be the year where companies look to provide their sales people with short, sharp, sales training interventions via video, elearning and social media.

“Microlearning” will become more popular where training needs can be assessed and then a suite of microlearning sessions can be developed or purchased to support the individual needs of your sales teams without taking them away from selling for long periods of time.

The training sessions will be geared around the essentials of their role and can be played quickly and easily on any device at any time.

Simplify the buyer journey

Having trained over 100,000 sales people, I often come across some very complicated sales processes.

Moreover, these are sales processes that are not aligned to their customers' buyer journey and the whole event of “purchasing” becomes painful.

I read some research recently from CEB that 39% of buyers feel overwhelmed by the sales process that they face and that the majority of them give up on the supplier.

Make sure that this isn’t you.

The organisations that will win will stop prospecting by throwing mud up against the wall and hoping some of it will stick.

The organisations that can clearly articulate their buyers journey and then map their sales process to match it will win in 2017.

If you are up against one of the suppliers who are trying to win business from the 39% mentioned above then this will give you a massive advantage.

Technology sales audit

During the latter half of the year we were coming across more and more organisations who were questioning the technology that they were using to support their sales efforts.

They were asking the question “Are we really getting an ROI for this?”

I believe this will and should continue in 2017.

It’s time that you looked at your CRM system, for example, and question:

  • What you are really using it for?
  • Are you using CRM to predict behaviour and outcomes or just as a glorified database?
  • Is it fit for purpose?
  • Is it easy to navigate around?
  • Does it save your sales reps time?

There are a million and one questions you should ask but overall you need to be asking are you receiving value for money and are you using it to your best potential.

No natural born sales people any longer

“All you need is the gift of the gab to succeed in sales”.

We’ve all heard it.

The statement is a load of rubbish though!

Some of the most successful sales people I have encountered have had a very methodical approach coupled with a strong work ethic. They are probably the furthest thing away from the “typical sales person” stereotype.

Indeed, I truly believe that modern day buyers don’t like to deal with over the top, cheesy sales people who talk for England.

Instead, modern day buyers want a good listening to and want to be understood by an expert and dealt with in a professional manner.

2017 will be a year where organisations cast a wider net for their sales talent pool.

Previous sales experience is no longer an absolute must but the right behaviours, mindset and work ethics are.

Is it really necessary to employ someone who has an engineering degree to sell your product or would it be better to employ a consultative selling expert who can articulate the benefits and features of the product and bring in technical expertise if and when is needed?

Employers should open up a whole new marketplace for them to select from.

So what are your predictions for 2017?

If it’s anything like 2016 we should expect the unexpected.

Who would have predicted Trump and Brexit after all?

Replies

Please login or register to join the discussion.

avatar
05th Jan 2017 11:40

Great article Sean and absolutely sums up the need to plan and develop an understanding of your prospects markets, rather than a scatter gun approach to market.

Thanks (0)