It’s tough for sales organisations in mature, transactional markets due to many factors including the internet, GFC, globalisation and commoditisation.

The 12 Sales Trends for 2014 as identified in the Barrett report were as follows:

12 Sales Trends for 201412-sales-trends-for-2014-sales-system

  1. Sales management will look to drive costs out of sales
    Generating more business will continue to be the main focus, however management will look at cutting costs and selling at better margins. Major focus areas will include:

    • Redefining sales territories
    • More efficient ways to service low value customers
    • Shift from volume to combined volume/value
  2. Telesales will have to make dramatic changes
    Complex solutions will now be need as customers become more knowledgeable. It will become a vital part of the overall sales operation.
  3.  Sales excellence managers will find their real role
    Managers need to consider incorporating sales excellence operations back into sales management. You can either revert to original sales training role or be deployed elsewhere in sales operations chain.
  4. Sales training methodologies are going to change
    Sales people will need more training but have less time to be trained. There is a reduction in expenditure on training against higher up-skilling and development requirements. E-learning and in-field coaching are become prevalent.
  5. The move into micro sales segmentation
    Relying on the broad brush of marketing segmentation will no longer cut the mustard. Segments will need to be segmented. Define the most attractive segments and customers will become the function of strategic sales. Getting it wrong can be costly.
  6. Low carbon economy sales opportunities
    Forward thinking companies are taking the lead regardless of government proactivity. This is a huge opportunity for big businesses and SMEs. There is a strong emphasis on innovation and product/service development.
  7. Normalising of social media in sales
    Social media is not just an add-on anymore. It is ramped up and used in more sophisticated ways. Utilise real time content that is engaging, relevant and interactive.
  8. Learning to sell in the Asian century
    We are becoming more reliant on China than any other country. China makes up a quarter of our exports. Yet many are ambivalent and under-estimate the need to be prepared. Smart companies are developing deeper engagement with Chinese counterparts through universities, industries and governments.
  9. Procurement specialists need to be solutions salespeople too
    There is a movement away from lower cost, cheaper price and supplier of goods and services and valuation creation and providing is becoming more important.
  10. Legitimisation of sales strategy
    It is emerging from under the shadow of marketing and purely tactical behaviours to a more strategic operation that works across business value chain, delivering real value and growth. Sales strategy will be studied by others than Heads of sales teams. Sales strategy will take a lead position at the C suite.
  11. Radical shift in sales mindset
    There is a movement from competition to collaboration; from me to we. You need to meaningfully connect everyone to customers.
  12. The enlightened sales person
    Take a more enlightened and collaborative approach. Develop in-depth knowledge and understanding of how solutions can be applied

The Next Level Perspective.

It is a race to the bottom! There is a rise of e-commerce and customers are becoming more and more educated. We are trending towards market consolidation and centralisation and diminishing apparent ability for Sales Execs to add value. It is difficult to assess accountability-transparency-measurability-productivity and increasing pressure on justification of headcount/costs.

Many sales orgs will respond by:

  • Continuing to reduce price, margins
  • Reduce cost of sales/headcount/service
  • Some will execute more sales training ….Or restructure the sales org (shift the deckchairs around)
  • Blaming individuals or even the whole team
  • Micromanaging +/- increasing reporting
  • Many sales orgs will be running their sales team at less than half potential productivity….and not know it

Most sales orgs will not realise that

  • The sales team is key to creating value and differentiation
    • the beacon out of the mire of the race to the bottom
  • More sales or product training is the LAST thing
  • Root cause is nearly always less about the inadequacies of individuals or the team as a whole environment that the sales org expects them to operate
  • Sales Exec’s primary role is to challenge and teach, then to provide a solution
  • StO should be an integral part of whole-company budgeting, and the inalienable first step in the mobilisation of any B2B sales team