What’s Changed in Sales in the Past Year?


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Yesterday, we participated in one of my favorite things here at The Brooks Group: A curriculum review.

A curriculum review requires us to take a hard look at a course to see how we can improve it. We bring together all of the facilitators and curriculum designers who work with that particular course. We consider the course evaluations and other input. And, using our collective knowledge of all of the customized sales training and sales management training programs we’ve built, we identify what needs to be changed and updated.

Since this one was for our IMPACT Selling Two-Day Open Enrollment Program, we had the chance to ask ourselves:

What’s changed in professional selling in the past year?

Ready for the shock?

Some things have changed. But, the more things change….the more they stay the same.

I know, you were expecting us to say that, with the advent of Sales 2.0 technology, sales was a dramatically different place inside the enterprise. But, based on what we’re actually seeing in the field…it’s really not.

At the core, salespeople still need to have meaningful, customer-focused conversations with qualified prospects. That, I think, will never change.

With that said, here are a handful of subtle changes we’ve seen in the last year:

1. Inside Sales is Growing

The role of Inside Sales is definitely on the rise. In fact, according to Todd McCormick of iMeet.com, the cost of B2B Outside sales call is $215-$400 per call while the cost of an inside call is only $25-$70 per call. No wonder, inside sales is growing. As an aside, the demands and expectations are unique, but the processes for inside and outside sales are largely the same. Why? Because people’s buying processes are the same regardless of the medium through which they buy (i.e., they gather information, weigh their options, and make a decision).

2.More interactions are enabled by technology

When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, salespeople all over the country believed their jobs had forever changed. “No more frequent train-riding miles,” they exclaimed! But, they were wrong. Their prospects still wanted face-to-face time. People thought the same revolutionary change would come from the facsimile machine, email, web conferencing, the iPad….Sure, the technology changes, but meaningful interactions with qualified prospects remain. Regardless of the technology that’s available to you, seek the chance to understand your customer so that you can apply your solutions in a way that emphasizes the value they offer that prospect.

3. More interactions are disabled by technology

With ready access to email, it’s often easier to use than trying to arrange a call or meeting. Over the last year, we’ve spent a lot of time talking to sales reps and their managers about proposals. How many deals, we wonder, have been lost because reps just emailed proposals to their prospects and waited? There is a better way! As appealing as it might be to email a prospect, actually picking up the phone is much more effective (by relying only on the written word, you lose a lot of communication since as much as 95% comes from body language and tone). How easy is it for your prospect to delete your email — even a proposal?

4. Committee Buying & Team Selling are Up

More people are involved in decisions (on both sides of the value equation). Perhaps as a response to the fact that buying decisions have been pushed higher in organizations and now involve larger committees, sales teams have begun placing more emphasis on team-based sales approaches. And that’s smart. While one person is presenting, another can observe. Team Selling is more expensive, but it’s also very beneficial.

Now, there is a lot more that has changed, but the core message here is that, sales is still — as ever — about having meaningful interactions in which prospective customers reveal what they want so that salespeople can professionally determine whether they can deliver it.

What else have you seen change in sales in the past year?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeb Brooks
Jeb Brooks is Executive Vice President of the The Brooks Group, one of the world's Top Ten Sales Training Firms as ranked by Selling Power Magazine. He is a sought-after commentator on sales and sales management issues, having appeared in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal. Jeb authored the second edition of the book "Perfect Phrases for the Sales Call" and writes for The Brooks Group's popular Sales Blog.


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