Twelve trends that will shape the B2B sales industry in 2019
As we move into 2019, many of us will be looking forward to understand what’s to come, what will be the biggest trends in sales in 2019?
The world of sales has seen huge and rapid changes in the last few years as new technology evolved and became more accessible to businesses and sales teams across niches. The question is, what will 2019 bring to the table and how will these trends impact you or your sales team?
#1 Relevant content becomes more important than personalised messages
In the past few years there has been a huge amount of thought leadership based around the importance of personalising sales messaging when reaching out to prospects and clients, one of the biggest shifts we are seeing in 2019 already is the value being placed on the relevance of sales messages.
Early adopters of sales enablement tools and approaches are already ahead of the game and experiencing the benefits of applying relevant messages over personalised messages, we are already starting to see more clients looking for assistance with this and more training being commissioned around this topic.
#2 Teams prioritising a need to get closer to their customers and prospects
The challenge of buyers attempting to reduce or defer the involvement of salespeople within the buying process isn’t a new problem, but already in 2019 we are seeing a greater determination within sales teams and from sales leaders to be able to effectively identify and map a client’s buying journey. This has been one of the core messages we’ve been reinforcing for many years and a recent analysis of a number of teams using our 360 adaptive sales model shows that salespeople who understand and are able to track back and walk through the client journey with customers achieve far stronger sales results.
#3 Applying human driven real-time sales responses
One of the major challenges sales teams will need to get to grips with in 2019 is being able to provide a human driven real time sales response to prospect and client enquiries, buyers have become used to the benefits of access to answers instantaneously and in a fast-paced world it was only a matter of time before this demand crept into the world of commercial sales.
Buyers today want access to information and assistance as quickly as possible and we have worked with a number of sales teams to actively encourage the use of instant messaging platforms with clients and prospects to shorten the time it takes a client to gain the answers they need during the buying process.
The challenge for many sales functions will be to deliver ways that make the process of purchasing easy and fast and the time scale from presenting a product or a solution to completing the order has to be the shortest possible and sales teams need to adapt to those requirements to stay on top of sales trends in 2019.
#4 Knowledgeable and skilled sales people will be key to successful sales
There is a growing push from AI platforms to attempt to signal the beginning of the end of the salesperson, initially there has been limited take up of this concept but as technology becomes ever present in today’s B2B market we are already starting to see the emergence of a greater demand from buyers to deal with a person rather than a machine when they arrive at the point of making a decision, as we have already outlined within the earlier stages of the process utilise the benefits of deferring a salespersons involvement in the process but in 2019 what we will see is a growing demand from buyers that still see the value of that important human element in the process.
We will see a huge shift and an increase in the perceived value in skilled and knowledgeable sales people, individuals that have the skills and ability to understand a customer’s needs, drive conversations, put together a valuable solution and “tell the story”. Customers will be looking for someone who understands their unique problems, knows their industry, and can provide them with valuable, relevant, and tailored advice.
#5 Buyers will continue to have more power than sellers
Although this really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, for the past decade the balance of power has been tipping more and more towards the buyer and 2019 will see that trend continue and swing even further in favour of the buyer, but this actually presents a great opportunity with the correct approach, sellers that adopt an adaptive insight driven approach by working with their clients and prospects will have a huge competitive advantage over their competitors, we have seen some incredible transitions in the results delivered by teams applying the 360 insight model and we expect to see this approach become more powerful in the year ahead.
#6 Taking a more strategic approach to sales enablement
Over the past five years we have seen huge growth in the successful use of sales enablement tools, however what many teams have discovered is that the technology a team uses to apply sales enablement is not necessarily the most important aspect of sales enablement, the most powerful element of a successful sales enablement lies in the strategy and relevance of the material being used to create a bespoke sales enablement strategy.
The key lessons we have observed have been to adopt a strategy and a plan with clear objectives and certain steps to be taken and we fully expect this trend to continue to grow in 2019.
#7 Pipeline consistency
The unpredictable nature of the sales pipeline has long been an ever present challenge of the salesperson and sales leader alike, over the past few years we have seen the improvement and accessibility of both technology and knowledge in tackling this challenge, in 2019 we expect to see this trend continue to grow as sales teams and leaders collaborate more effectively by using CRM more intelligently and strategically and by investing in developing skills to uncover the insight and intelligence gathering to be able to make more informed pipeline forecasts and improve accuracy.
#8 Taking a strategic approach to account development
Account management will continue to see the impact of the power shift moving towards the buyer and buyers will expect to benefit from the experience and expertise of a strategic partner looking to work in partnership to develop and grow their business and deliver greater value, 2019 will see clients shunning the traditional account manager / account servicer in preference to a more value driven account development approach.
#9 Sales leaders will need to drill down further to sanity check pipelines
Over the past two years we have experienced a growing demand from sales leaders to discover a practical and engaging approach to working with their teams to improve the consistency between forecast and closed sales, 2019 will see this trend continuing to grow and see leaders adopt a more deep focused analysis on sales opportunities to be able to understand the inner mechanics and influences within any given opportunity whilst providing greater scope for leaders to work with and coach team members to close more sales.
#10 Applying a multi-pronged approach to lead generation
Lead generation finds itself at a point of transition, the popularity of social selling and marketing driven sales have seen their effectiveness dwindle, however these approaches are far from dead and the year ahead will demonstrate that sales teams that apply a wider variety of lead generation approaches will achieve greater and more consistent success than the results of teams focusing on a single or limited pool of approaches.
2019 will also continue to see the resurgence of a grown up telephone driven lead generation approach when used in conjunction with digital platforms and an effective sales enablement strategy.
#11 Applying more focus on building stronger relationships
People buy people and 2019 will demonstrate once and for all that the power of relationships cannot be ignored and paid lip service to, the power of relationships, face to face selling and bringing digital contacts into the real world will continue to prove to be the ultimate differentiator between average and great sales teams and sales people that fail to see the importance of this element of the sales process will be cut adrift from their competitors in the year ahead.
#12 The need for sales leaders to become more adaptive in their approach
For many years we have observed a shift from the traditional sales management approach to a more leader coaching approach, we expect to see continued growth in the realisation that to develop and grow a sales team to deliver consistent results that you cannot be just a leader or a manager but in fact you must take a hybrid approach as no two sales people are the same or have the same needs for a sales leader, as more sales leaders adopt this approach 2019 will demonstrate the value and importance of this approach.