It’s Only Common Sense: The Dramatically Different Future of Sales

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I’m about to blow your mind. From The Future of Sales by John Asher, here is the new scenario for sales as we exit the COVID era. Some of these changes are because of a worldwide pandemic, but most of them were about to occur anyway; the pandemic simply served to accelerate them much more quickly than we were prepared for.

Asher used the results from a LinkedIn survey to share some of the changes:

  • Virtual selling is going mainstream: 77% of respondents to the survey are holding more virtual meetings
  • Buyers are less responsive: 44% of respondents anticipated a decrease in responsiveness to outreach
  • Sales cycles are longer: 44% of respondents said buyers’ sales cycles increased
  • Their responses to unsolicited emails are down by 30%
  • Four out of five buyers prefer to have videoconferencing through Zoom than a phone call
  • Three out of four believe digital selling is more effective than face-to-face selling

Are you scared yet? Maybe you want to do what you always do and blame those darn millennials who don’t answer the phone and are always “twittering” and using that “likendedin?” But wait. Before your do that, read this:

“Nearly three out of four B2B buyers are now millennials. They expect the B2B purchasing process to have the same kind of speed and ease as the B2C (business to consumer) process. Baby-boomer style white papers are giving way to value-added content. Companies will therefore need to build digital buyer experiences to support buyers in their self-learning, and in their change journey.”

But wait there’s more:

  • 83% of employers now say the shift to remote work has been successful
  • Less than 20% of executives say they want to return as many of their people to the office as they had pre-pandemic
  • 61% of employees expect to spend only half their future time in the office

Now, that final bit is scary. These stats came from a survey done in 2020 with all indications that everything stated here would only intensify as the years go by. The last time I checked,  two years have passed. So, now what? What can we do to make sure our companies are still able to do business in 2022 and beyond?

Do these things immediately if you haven’t already:

  • Hire young people. It’s time to bring them on board, if (and that’s a big if) you can get them to join your company. It’s an employees’ market, not only today but the indefinite future as well. You had better find a way to hire younger employees or you’re going to die older.
  • Have an open mind. Learn the terminology, It’s Twitter, Instagram and, of course, LinkedIn. Learn not only how to say them, but how to use and be proficient at them. If you remember the day Kennedy was shot, watched the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, or even if remember the Bay City Rollers and the Miracle on Ice, then you’d better get with it right now because the world is very close to passing you by and leaving you in the proverbial dust.
  • Start the sales process by using marketing tools such as HubSpot and Salesforce. Learn how to write valuable content, leave impactful voice messages and, most of all, go with the times. Always be changing, learning, and adapting. Think about this for a minute: Maybe your competitors in your demographics are not doing these things. If you commit yourself to these changes and you’re all in, you will be one of the few of your generation to do it. That will make you a true outlier and truly outstanding.

If you’re a little behind, take heart. There is hope for all of us. Asher writes:

“There will always be a need for salespeople because we are social beings. Interactions between buyer and seller will always be necessary to establish rapport and trust. For large, complicated, and technical sales, high-level salespeople will still be required (yay!). They will need a moderately high IQ, high EQ (emotional intelligence), technological know-how, high sales aptitude, and be comfortable selling at the ‘C’ level. They will also need a tireless work ethic, excellent writing capability, self-motivation, independent decision making, and neuroscience-based sales skills.”

Which, if you think about it, are the skills of most great salespeople. Great salespeople always find a way to win. If that means adapting to the modern ways of selling and of doing business, they will do that too.

It’s only common sense.

Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.


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