Editor’s Note: This post is co-authored by Todd Caponi and Jeff Rosset.
After reading a number of end-of-year articles predicting the trends for the coming year, myself and Jeff Rosset recognized five trends which haven’t made the headlines – but believe require the attention of tech sales leaders in the coming year. Here they are:
The Rise of Feedback
The buying journey is all about the buyer’s need to predict what their experience is going to be like using your company’s products and services. The last two years have seen a dramatic proliferation in the availability of feedback on B2B companies’ offerings and working environments, evidenced by G2 Crowd’s recent $55m round (who collects and displays ratings & reviews for B2B tech companies), and Glassdoor (who not only posts open jobs, but provides the “inside scoop” through employee reviews) now valued at over $1B. Today, buyers know where to look for evidence of the pros AND CONS of your products, services and even your culture. And it has a big impact on recruiting, where your candidates know where to look to predict what their lives will be like working in your organization. This data is available to you, the sellers & marketers, too. In 2019, curating feedback from across the web, and arming sales to be prepared with it proactively will become as important as knowing what your competitors are saying about you.
The requirement to embrace “community” learning, sharing and collaboration
There was a time not long ago where sellers could, following a short orientation, actually “self-enable.” However, as the pace of information accessibility grew, so did the need for focused sales support. As such, we’ve seen an explosion of sales enablers, sales enablement departments, and now the considerable growth of sales associations, communities, societies and networking groups. Today, sales is evolving too rapidly for individuals and organizations to silo themselves, especially given the speed at which companies are scaling. In addition, companies are hiring (or promoting) sales people and leaders at record numbers into roles they’ve never actually done before; and in many cases, reps are being asked to sell new products within new markets with no industry or category experience. It’s creating a massive vacuum in knowledge, experience and strategy.
Sales-focused LMS systems like Lessonly or Learncore MUST now be a part of the sales stack. Perhaps even more important, sales leaders and enablers will need to commit time every week to connecting and collaborating with peers who are in similar roles at OTHER non-competing technology companies throughout their community. The idea of “all of us is smarter than any of us” has never been more true and relevant within the tech/SaaS sales world.
Importance of understanding decision science
The neuroscience community’s understanding of how the brain makes decisions has accelerated rapidly in just the past few years. Optimizing selling activities, tools and processes with how the buying brain makes decisions would be a really valuable thing to know, right? Yet most of that understanding has yet to make it into sales curriculum. In 2019, sales enablement and sales leadership will need to incorporate this incredible asset into their sales organizations, in areas like:
- Incorporating the role of transparency in disarming the brain’s resistance to influence
- Understanding the role of how emotion binds during a consensus sale, whereas logic actually polarizes
- Understanding the role of subconscious decision making in the way their team’s message in their prospecting, the way they communicate during presentations and demonstrations and even the role of trust in negotiations.
Sales stack overload
According to various reports, there are now upwards of 5,000 different sales & marketing related tech products and tools. Umm, that’s a lot! With this massive influx in tools, sales leaders need to do a better job in regards to a) choosing the right resources for their team, b) keeping tabs on what their reps are using/not using, and c) ensuring their technologies integrate and “talk to each other.”
Tools like Growlabs, Sigstr, ConnectAndSell, Gong.io, Clari, ChurnZero, Mediafly, Outreach, DiscoverOrg, etc. help to make a sales leader’s job easier, and improve their reps’ effectiveness. But as a whole, the stack can have a negative impact on productivity (and the bottom line in regards to ROI) if not managed properly. “Stack management” has quickly become a much more important job for sales leaders as well as their sales operations & enablement partners.
The war for sales talent is at an all-time high
The need for technology salespeople has never been higher. Between a record number of companies raising large rounds of capital (which translates into immediate positions to fill) and the trend of specialization within tech sales – the demand for sales talent far exceeds the supply.
So what’s the proactive solution? The best companies effectively recruit, train, develop and promote their reps – essentially building and curating their own pipeline of sales talent. First, they put a strong career path program in place (Inbound SDR to Enterprise SDR to AE to Leadership, etc). And then to feed that model, the best companies do a great job of bringing in reps – either entry level or industry transplants (think former financial services reps who want to get into tech sales) – and provide them with outstanding sales/product/industry training & ongoing education. This is more of a long term play and the company must be totally committed, but the end result is the ability to fill their own needs (on demand) with those on their “bench.”
About the authors
Todd Caponi is the author of the new book, The Transparency Sale. He spent the last almost four years building the revenue capacity of Chicago’s PowerReviews from the ground up as their Chief Revenue Officer. Prior to that, he’s held senior leadership roles with 3 other tech companies, including ExactTarget, where he helped drive the organization to a successful IPO and a $2.7B exit through the acquisition by Salesforce.com.