Published: March 31st, 2017

This is the fourth column in a six part series on the future of sales that Colleen Francis wrote for the Adobe Document Cloud Blog.

So far in this series on the future of work in sales, we’ve talked about the importance of building teams and creating communities so that you can create a lasting, positive experience with your customers.

Just as important, a new set of skills is emerging as critical to your future success: those that help increase capacity for selling like an insider.

Here’s what that means. Insider sales skills show the customer that they have gained privileged new connections within your organization and with other customers, just by doing business with you. This makes them feel they’re more than just a transaction. Your skills make this possible when every member of the sales team can perform both as part of a team and as a community leader, and do so within a digital culture.

Be a master of technology: it controls your career success

Being a lone-wolf top performer who shies away from technology won’t cut it anymore. You must bring people together using all the digital tools at your disposal. Top performers are already embracing this trend. Our own research at Engage shows that they’re 22 per cent more likely to achieve targets than those shunning technology.

Companies continue to invest millions of dollars in technology promising to make their sales teams more efficient. Therefore, companies expect their salespeople to perform better and demonstrate a positive return on their investment.

Sales territories, quotas and expectations are all getting bigger while the number of people needed to do the job well is getting smaller. The more efficient a system becomes, the more an organization can afford to rely on fewer professionals to perform all tasks. Sales is no exception. The best sellers are capitalizing on this efficiency by taking personal responsibility for their development into efficiency machines. This means embracing communities and digital tools. As a result, they are creating more opportunities, and closing more sales.

Rethink what face time means

Face time with clients doesn’t mean what it used to. Virtual gatherings are just as valid and can be as effective as in-office meetings, while increasing your efficiency as a seller. One client of mine in the financial sector closes all business by video conference. They do 40 per cent more transactions than their competition, simply because they don’t have two days eaten up by travel time on each deal.  Their massive efficiency compared to competitors was a key reason why they were recently bought by one of the largest banks in the world.

Leverage larger internal teams and hybrid sellers

Smaller sales teams made more efficient by a host of digital tools will also have to leverage a broader internal team who can help manage each client. In doing so, each organization can adopt that all hands on deck approach: giving every member of the team a role to play in ensuring customer success. Coaching, leading and teamwork are skills that sellers will have to develop together to fully manage new customers and fully support expanded territories.

This shift opens another important opportunity: the emerging role for hybrid sellers. These are people within your organization who have deep knowledge about a subject and who also can sell it to customers. Consider them the specialized expert seller. This is a trend I see especially in the IT sector with seasoned programmers or engineers, as well as in the oil and gas sector with engineers. These specialists become valuable assets within a sales team. Expect to see more hybrid sellers, because buyers don’t want pitches. They want proven experts: people who can facilitate, illustrate and collaborate with seasoned insight. This is how differentiators are spotted by buyers in the marketplace.

These changes in favor of insider sales skills means that professionals are going to have to trust in their teams like never before.

Professionals in tomorrow’s salesforce are going to thrive because together they will be better at facilitating, better at troubleshooting, and better at consulting with customers and internal team members on every transaction.

Colleen Francis has been a successful sales leader for over 20 years. She is the author of Nonstop Sales Boom, and is recognized as a top tier sales consultant. She understands the challenges of selling in today’s market and that business leaders can no longer rely on approaches to sales based on techniques from decades ago. In this blog series she will share her experiences and predictions as she looks towards the evolving sales landscape.

 

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