In this series of interviews, Mario Pufahl, sales expert and CSO of ec4u, is talking about the topic “Sales Performance Management”. In the first part, he talks about current sales trends and what they mean for your company (and customers).
“In Modern Work Places, communication with colleagues and customers becomes faster and more personal.” (Mario Pufahl, CSO of ec4u.)
The transcript of the interview part “sales trends”:
What are the trends for your customers in sales?
There are five trends that are our customers in sales are dealing with and thinking about.
The first trend, which is certainly a topic of discussion, is “Digital Transformation”. How can you enable your employees to work digitally and to get to know and use digital tools?
The second trend includes “Artificial Intelligence” and “Predictive”, meaning predictions and forecasting models. Collected data is actively used in sales and new insights can be gained from them.
The third trend “Social Selling” shows, especially in B2B, that customers are more and more establishing their networks online via Twitter or LinkedIn. It’s only logical to address them on these platforms when generating leads.
The fourth trend deals with the “Modern Workplace”. Despite, for example, being in different offices and even different continents, colleagues can work together collaboratively without having to meet in person.
The fifth and last trend deals with a “New Management Culture” and gaining the right employees, which is also called the “War of Talents”. The goal is to win employees who are familiar with digital media and who know how to actively use them in sales.
How can you face these trends?
For the first trend, “Digital Transformation”, you should not only conduct change management but also, support and coach your employees during working hours (without “hovering”). Over a longer period of time, you can drive the digital transformation forward steadily and help your employees to stay on top of digital trends. You cannot expect that transformation will happen all at once.
The second trend, artificial intelligence and “Predictive”, shows that there are many B2B- as well as B2C-customers that have collected high-quality customer data. However, the question is how you can use that data to support your sales processes. Artificial intelligence and BI-tools are offering numerous possibilities, which should be used actively (keyword: “next best offer”).
These tools can help you, for example, with questions like: What can you actively offer your customers? How can you increase efficiency?
Find out more about predictive methods in our white paper on the “uplift model”.
A good example for the third trend, “Social Selling”, is LinkedIn. Since Microsoft has bought LinkedIn and implemented it 100% into other Microsoft apps, social activities can be connected much easier with CRM-related activities. The potential is huge.
The fourth trend, “Modern Workplace”, deals with the daily routines and environments of a sales representative and how you can enable him to work as efficiently as possible – no matter where he or his colleagues are located while working together. The use of collaborative cloud-tools enables you to connect with a CRM-tool at any time, to make Skype for Business available on your phone or to connect with FaceTime. As a result, communication – not only with colleagues but also with customers – is much faster and more personal.
The fifth trend, “New Management Culture”, brings a change in thinking, a paradigm shift, with it. In contrast to the image of the classic head of sales, who directs everything, we have to create responsive organizations, in which employees can participate and offer their own ideas. Experience is not as important anymore, but the question: What is the result? A young employee, who can manage social media channels well and uses his knowledge for sales activities, is just as valuable as a long-serving, traditional sales warrior – the mix is important.