2011 Sales Trends


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For any person in selling- manager or professional, this has been a challenging year. The economic turmoil both in the states and around the world has created havoc amongst sales teams. Beyond typical politics and personality disputes is the real issue- sales teams not hitting targets. This creates stress for senior managers and all involved.

As the new decade of our current millennium nears it is clear that sales will alter from previous models. In fact, change is required. As global competition, the Internet and the economy traverse new sales foundations are created. Change is required because if not some simply become beaten.

With over 28 years in the field of sales, we have seen the good times and the bad. However, with the New Year will be new trends. With research both in the area and directly with clients, the following are what we view as the top selling trends for 2011 and beyond.

Terminate the Peddler

For many years the world of sales was attributed to both street and local merchants “peddling” goods (milk, eggs, cheese) and services (mortar, lawn care) to consumers. Over time these skills transferred to professionals such as stock and insurance brokers etc. Numerous training classes taught the art of cold calling and other methods to “sell stuff”.

The Internet has altered this. Today’s consumer is not only much smarter but has more information about products than ever. Clients do not want a “sales pitch”. Clients desire stimulating conversation with someone that can bring alternatives and new thinking to the business. Moreover, consumers want a relationship with sales professionals. It is imperative to ensure sales teams are building relationships and not selling widgets.

EEOP – Energize Employment Optimize Productivity

The trend for the last several years has been to hire selling professionals for behavior. Fill the seats and the production will increase. Many believe hiring gregarious representatives is what a sales team makes. This is the furthest from the truth. Sales managers found that hiring anyone wastes time and money. Hire for talent not behavior. Ensure you have the proper people on the team. Skills are innate and some selling skills cannot be taught.

Sales Leadership

Many individuals believe that taking the most successful professional out of the field and promoting them to sales manager is a good choice. Much evidence is available to prove this isn’t true. It is beneficial to keep a top producer in the field to do what they do best – produce. The new genre of sales leadership will develop from those that desire and have experience leading sales teams.

Secondly, sales teams will be held to key performance measurements. The only method to ensure achievement to meet organizational goals is implementing accountability guidelines.

Fits and Starts of Training

The recession derailed many in the training business including consultants. However while the multibillion-dollar business will return, sales managers and senior officers will realize that training does not work. Training is an event. The way to institute new behavior is through processes. Sales leaders will be required to develop programs that alter behaviors and meet organizational demands.

Further, organizations that have resources will implement formal on boarding programs. On boarding is a systemized approach of getting more productivity from new personnel immediately. Onboarding is an investment in employee retention, morale, and productivity. Research proves that a structured orientation program were more likely to remain with the company after three years than those who did not go through the same program.

Functionality and Futility of CRM

Much has been written over the past 20 years about the merits of CRM- Customer Relationship Management. There is definitely a benefit to the use of these software products. However, much time, expense, research and development has been spent providing “cool” tools for sales professionals. The issue- they are unused. Many organizations have spent time investing on systems their sales professionals do not find functional. More time will be spent on products that are not only more functional but make use of more resources that create easier customer relationships.

Finding Prospective Clients

Suffice to say many use social media as a prospecting tool. Herein lies the rub; how many true economic buyers spend time with social media? In a crazy busy world decision makers are simply… crazy busy. Why spend imperative time online when it can be spent with important individuals? Sales leaders will ensure sales professionals invest time in building customer centric relationships with decision makers. More time will be spent on direct networking and introduction through third parties.


Customers desire conducting business with those they know and trust. The sales professional of the new decade needs to create customer centric relationships. The requirement is discussions on value and benefits. Selling professionals need to speak about deliverables and how to improve the condition of the client.

Before you Say Hello

The Internet provides a plethora of information on vendors. In addition, customer-to-customer influences produce strong biases about products and services. Therefore, selling professionals need to implement knowledge management systems that provide strategies to aid clients. Such examples include improvement of competitive position, alleviating labor, improving productivity etc. Illustrating value from inception makes a sales representative a customer’s asset.


Similar to the athlete that practices to improve their sport, selling professionals need methods to improve their profession. Sales leaders will require that selling professionals invest their time and money in the profession. Numerous universities now offer degrees (credentialed and professional) in selling. Sales leaders desire competitive individuals not spectators.

Which is the trend or trends that will affect you the most? Please provide your thoughts in the space below. We will survey and produce the results.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Drew Stevens
Drew J. Stevens Ph.D. (Dr. Drew) is the author of Split Second Selling and the soon to be released Ultimate Business Bible and six other business books on sales, customer loyalty, self mastery and business development solutions. Drew helps organizations to dramatically accelerate revenue and outstrip the competition. He conducts over 4 international keynotes, seminars and workshops per year.


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