With new generations, technologies and philosophies, the business landscape is always changing. For sales organizations, new or reinvented approaches and methodologies come along all the time. Millennials are starting to dominate the sales workforce, bringing their own perspectives to the table. Technology is making reps more efficient and has disrupted processes, both negatively and positively. Whatever the change, companies that adapt will be successful.
In an interview on Paul Watts’ Sales Reinvented podcast, Brainshark Sales Readiness Consultant Mike Kunkle reflected back on his 25 years of sales experience and predicted changes in methodologies, technologies and philosophies that will help organizations develop the sales reps of the future.
Selling styles have shifted away from a focus on the influence reps wield, such as what they said and how they said it, and toward today’s consultative approaches. In the future, Kunkle thinks reps will use more insight-selling practices to complement consultative methods.
But most importantly, smart reps will always have the buyer in mind.
“The most successful sales professionals I’ve known were almost laser-focused on the buyer and [worked] to enable their buying decisions, trying to make it as easy and comfortable as possible for them to buy,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that they didn’t respectfully challenge their thinking or try to influence those buyers to make a decision that was in the buyer’s best interest, but they always did it with ethical and authentic transparent intent, and strove to become a trusted advisor.”
Advancement of Technology
Kunkle predicts that new automation technologies will lead to inside reps replacing transactional reps. As a result, the most in-demand reps will be those who are able to sell “complex solutions that require real dialogue, problem solving and deeper expertise.”
He sees an eventual place for predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning in sales but reminds organizations not to forget about the power of humans. “The need for the human element and dialogue will increase as buyers struggle to keep up with all of the technological advancements,” said Kunkle.
Do’s and Don’ts
Aside from keeping up with the next best methodologies and technologies, the sales reps of the future should live by the pillars of good sales practices, which Kunkle breaks down into a few main areas:
- Sell with integrity: “You’ll sleep better, you’ll feel better, you’ll sell more, and I shouldn’t have to say that but it’s worth mentioning as a ticket to entry and the foundation to everything we do [in sales].”
- Qualify, qualify, qualify: “I’m not saying you shouldn’t nurture deals. There’s a place [for] nurturing in your leads pipeline for sure, but not in your opportunity pipeline…Spend the time to get really good at qualifying deals for your company with your solution set and spend the bulk of your time putting the right opportunities into your pipeline.”
- Business and personal needs of the buyer: “Always focus on the business needs and personal needs of your buyers to solve their problems better than anyone else, and help them achieve the real value and outcomes that they’re looking for.”
Kunkle also points out areas where reps can improve in the future:
- Cold calling and prospecting: “Don’t believe that the unexpected call is dead, or that prospecting is hard. Accept that you’re not good enough at it and then learn from the experts and get [better] at it because it works.”
- Don’t push buyers: “Stop trying to push buyers faster to increase your deal velocity…Qualify deeper. You can open a locked door a lot easier with a key than with a hammer.”
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