2020 is poised to be an exciting time for Sales, as the surge of machine learning engines and AI come to play in a landscape of unprecedented data richness.
We’re entering what is being heralded as the Data Decade (or even more impressively, The Information Era) where digital channels are providing customers with varied information on brands, putting the pressure of reps and leaders to quickly adapt to the new buyer’s expectations, needs and behaviours, and leverage buyer profiles to sell more effectively.
We’ll also be seeing many organisations place the Sales department at their forefront of investment plans, decisively backing Sales efforts from all corners of the business.
As buyers, a cacophony of interesting offers and tempting possibilities stand before us, promising us better close rates, bigger revenues and more effective sales performance. The challenge will be choosing between the myriad of tailor-made products that will help us grow our business.
AI for Sales will be a key trend for 2020, bringing together the great ability of the machine to capture and interpret data and of the seller to make use of it.
Below, we discuss the six trends that will shape the Sales landscape in 2020.
Trend #1: Complete Buyer-Centric Selling Across All Departments
If the lines between Sales and Marketing were beginning to blur in 2019, the new year is set to blear them further, bringing even more players to the field.
As the picture of our perfect buyer becomes clearer – due to more and better data – new departments will make servicing this dream prospect their core target.
Selective buyers will push Customer Service and Product Development to align their roadmaps with Sales and Marketing to service a customer that is looking for tailored-made solutions.
Trend #2: Simplification and Specialisation
On a similar note, businesses will have to simplify and specialise their offers to better fit with the needs of their buyers – whilst breaking through the escalating noise.
Relevance, more than ever, will be the key to standing out.
Even though the great leaps of technology allow providers to build ever more complex tools, the advice here is to centralise efforts around the real challenges of the relevant market, simplify offering and fine-tune UX to help decision making in the buying process.
Trend #3: Personalisation
After a fruitful few years in the realms of Marketing, personalised approaches will be the norm for modern sales organisations looking to stand out.
The new sales process will be led by intent, with workflows being triggered by the prospect’s buying signals.
The most successful sellers will be those who learn to leverage this data to mould their pitch around their desired customer.
Trend #4: B2B Mirrors B2C But H2H Takes The Crown
There’s been a slight but apparent shift in the way businesses are communicating with their customers.
Digitisation and the rising popularity of social selling have brought brands and consumers into close familiarity. And this new congenial manner being practised by B2C is slowly being transferred to B2B.
It’s now not uncommon to see tech start-ups Instagramming their daily life at the office or even for larger enterprise organisations to spotlight the people behind their products.
Although there is a lot that B2B can learn from B2C (exceptional UX or impeccable aesthetics, for example) we must be cautious to draw a firm line between what is lighthearted fun and what is pointless dribble.
The real value can be found in the need for more H2H (human to human) selling. Even with all the perks new technology is bringing, people still want to buy from people. Creating real engagement and meaningful connections will always outweigh anything else.
Trend #5: Better Tools for Sales Managers
Sales managers shoulder a heavy load. The success or failure of entire sales floors is on them and their ability (or lack thereof) can influence talent retention, close rates or overall revenue attainment.
Gartner has in fact pinned the blame for rep attrition on bad management, placing Manager Quality and People Management as the second and third most popular reasons sellers quit organisations.
“In order to improve business outcomes, effective sales managers should provide meaningful and actionable coaching that creates an ongoing dialogue and can be tailored for personal development” Gartner states.
The problem is that sales managers remain wholly underserved when it comes to tooling, training or enablement to make them more effective.
The eruption of predictive technology, data and automation – that allows for the filtering and clarification of information and automates manual tasks – will close this gap and help managers offer personalised support for their workforce in real-time and at scale.
Trend #6: AI for Sales
After a year of terms like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning or Automated Decision Systems being thrown around by every software provider on the planet, the trend seems to be settling down and getting to work for the year ahead.
Simplistic versions of AI, like Salesforce’s Einstein or Microsoft Dynamics 365, will become mainstream, creeping into even more of our everyday sales activities.
The fear-mongering of the past will be left behind as sellers understand that the role of AI is not to replace them but to ease the burden of tedious tasks, help them better understand customer needs and alert them to any anomaly in the process that could hinder success. All this will enable them to deliver a better customer experience.
Data-informed decision-making will be a key trend for 2020, bringing together the great ability of the machine to capture and interpret data and of the human to make use of it.
Data literacy will become widespread across entire organisations as more providers work on tools for capturing and visualisation of big data.
The new trifecta for sales success will be:
Data + Machine Learning + Effective Sellers
None of these parts will survive without the other in the upcoming decade.
Are you ready for the upcoming Data Decade?
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