4 Top Trends Driving Sales Into the Future

Categories: Business Management, Distribution & Supply Chain, Innovations, Trends & Technology

By Troy Harrison | December 4, 2023 << Back to Articles 4 Top Trends Driving Sales Into the Future

The sales profession is at a turning point that can’t be ignored and is changing faster than ever before. Every year, the changes are significant and noteworthy.

Why? The reasons are technological, generational, and even cultural. Essentially, four significant trends will drive sales into the future, and I plan to be at the forefront of it, which means that if you’re reading this article, you will be, too. Let’s examine each one.

Artificial intelligence: Sales landscape transformation

Artificial intelligence (AI) will be a game-changer in the sales industry. AI-powered tools will allow us to streamline processes, enhance efficiency, and better communicate with our customers with a lower time investment.

Don’t get me wrong. AI is not magic. It is not a cure-all. It is a tool. It is the most robust tool ever developed for improving sales communication—but it is still a tool, and as such, it is useless without people to utilize it properly. If it is appropriately used, the capabilities it gives you are something I couldn’t have imagined a couple of years ago!

Younger buyers: Dynamics sales shift

The rise of the digital generation has given birth to a new breed of buyers—younger, tech-savvy individuals who have grown up in a connected world. These buyers expect personalized experiences, instant access to information, and seamless digital interactions.

To succeed in this new era, salespeople must understand and adapt to the needs and preferences of younger buyers. This requires proficiently incorporating technology, embracing social selling, and modifying current customer approaches.

One refrain I hear about younger buyers is, “Younger buyers don’t want to see salespeople!” This is not true. They will see salespeople, but when they do, they expect more per-minute value for their time. They expect you to be on your game, informed, and ready to help them do business. And if you aren’t, you probably won’t get a second shot. I empathize with this mindset; as anyone who has ever sold to me can attest, these have been my habits. Maybe everyone else is catching up to me!

Younger salespeople: Embracing fresh perspectives

As younger buyers shape the sales landscape, younger salespeople bring fresh perspectives and approaches to the profession. These digital natives possess an innate understanding of technology and quickly adapt to new tools and platforms. Their agility, creativity, and willingness to embrace change can help revolutionize the sales process.

However, we must invest in training and mentoring these younger salespeople, harnessing their energy and innovation, and be flexible in conveying that knowledge. If it’s done right, you can cross-pollinate the tech savviness of your younger salespeople with the wisdom and experience of seasoned veterans and make everyone better. Are there challenges? Yes. Sales managers need to up their game in the same way that salespeople do. But if you do, big wins await you.

Empowered buyers: The shift in power

Here’s the one trend I’ve talked about for the past few years. We salespeople held the reins in the past, guiding buyers through the purchasing journey. However, the tech and information revolution has flipped this dynamic.

Today, your buyers have access to abundant information at their fingertips. They conduct extensive research, read reviews, and seek recommendations from peers before engaging with a salesperson. Studies show that today’s buyer has completed 57% of their buying process before ever seeing a salesperson.

Sales professionals must acknowledge this power shift and adapt accordingly. You are no longer the star of the show—the customer is. And your “sales process” generally won’t matter. What matters now is the buyer’s journey and your ability to help the customer navigate their journey.

Spoiler alert: If we want to succeed, we must embrace these four trends. When people converse with me at conferences about these four issues, they mainly complain.

“That gosh-darned AI stuff is gonna replace us!”

“Dang kids don’t even wanna talk to salespeople!”

“Young salespeople just won’t go make sales calls!”

“My customers want to call all the shots!”

So, will we get on board, move forward, and succeed, or will we be that old person yelling, “Get off my lawn!?” As I noted before, each of these four trends presents an opportunity, and each one offers a challenge. How we handle the challenges will dictate whether we can capitalize on the opportunities.

This also doesn’t mean every sales skill we have learned is worthless. Unless it’s one of those techniques that depends on manipulating uninformed customers, it probably has a place in your repertoire going forward. It must be augmented with new skills and capabilities, refined to speak to unique buyer preferences, and perhaps rechanneled. Here are some bullet points to think about:

  • To succeed with AI, you need to start learning about it, get proficient with it, and use it to generate content and communications. Meanwhile, you need to train your salespeople to improve the human-centered skills in selling that AI can’t do (yet).
  • Younger buyers want more per-minute value for their time—but they have great attention spans for a good story. How good are your people at storytelling?
  • Younger people are not loyal to companies anymore. The 40-year career, the gold watch, and the pension are gone—and they know it. They are, however, loyal to people. How good are you at building relationships with your salespeople?
  • To navigate the buyer’s journey, you must first understand it. Do you?

As I look forward, the future is bright for great salespeople and sales leaders. Let’s navigate these challenges successfully.

About the Author.

Troy Harrison is the author of “Sell Like You Mean It!” and “The Pocket Sales Manager.” He is also a speaker, consultant, and sales navigator. He helps companies build more profitable and productive sales forces. For more information, call 913-645-3603 or e-mail [email protected].