If I were to ask you what has changed the most in the sales professional landscape during the last decade, your initial response might center around the product or service you were tasked to sell. The evolution of products and services have definitely evolved in this era of technology, especially considering that there seems to be an app and/or website for every offering on the market, no matter what type of company or product line you are representing. But this significant change does not tell the entire story. In my 25-plus years as a sales professional and leader, I have seen three additional trends dominate the world of successful sales professionals. It has been the ability to adapt and adopt these trends as standard operating procedures that have translated into success.
1. The Surging Popularity of Video Conferences vs. In-Person Sales Visits
Facetime, Google Hangouts, and Skype are becoming more prevalent as time goes on. The scheduled stop-by at your clients’ offices have started to fade as quickly as the Rolodex. Travel budgets are shrinking and with that understanding, both current and prospective customers have become more comfortable with the “virtual handshake” to close the deal. This is a case where technology is truly serving as a trusted friend to the sales professional. Take advantage of Webinar services that offer video and audio conferencing bundles and the ability to display your sales proposals and supporting digital materials (i.e. Powerpoint, Excel) in real-time. Your clients will appreciate the convenience and security that many of these virtual meeting vendors provide.
2. Sales Territories Grow as Sales Teams Shrink
The economic struggles of the past 10 years have led companies to demand their sales teams tackle larger pieces of the U.S. with less team members. This means you and your sales colleagues are being asked to cover more ground (or air) without any noticeable changes or sacrifices made in customer service and detail. You need to be even more efficient with your time, more organized with your meeting schedule and more prepared to answer as many questions the first time, at the right time.
3. Expansion into Marketing & Event Management
Sales leaders are now called on to work side-by-side with their company’s marketing team to align messaging for the products/services they represent. Its also become common practice for sales pros to plan and execute elaborate customer events to both demonstrate your product and provide an attractive setting for building client relationships and possibly even seal a deal. These events also provide a natural opportunity for sales professionals to develop follow-up touch points with current customers and prospects after the event is over.
Changes are healthy and the future should be embraced, not feared. The more flexibility and open-mindedness you can bring to the changing landscape of sales, the better off you and your customers will be.