What are the top sales trends for 2012? Here’s my list based upon my experience of studying and working with some of the world’s greatest sales organizations last year.
1. Sales Linguistics – For 2012, it’s not only what you say, but equally important, how you say it. “Sales linguistics” is the revolutionary new field of study about how customers and salespeople use and interpret language during the decision making process. If you are in sales, you make your living by talking. If you were a pilot, you would attend years of flight training school before you were allowed in the cockpit of a jumbo jet. If you were a lawyer, you would intensely study law for several years and have to pass your state’s bar exam to ensure your proficiency. If you are in sales, you need to study language and perfect your use of words because your most important competitive weapon is your mouth. Read more about Sales Linguistics here.
2. Sales Force Verticalization – A “specialist” beats a “generalist” every time. Closely related to Sales Linguistics, is the accelerated trend of sales force language specialization based upon the following strategies:
A) Industry verticalization (finance, government, retail, etc.) to promote domain expertise.
B) Technical application segmented by different solutions to promote extremely deep technical knowledge.
C) Business process improvement focus as opposed to the recitation of standard “generic” product features and functions to customers.
3. Sales Force Behavior “Modeling” – Models are verbal descriptions and visual representations of how systems work and processes flow. Models enable repeatable and predictable experiences. More top salespeople will be studied in 2012 to understand how they formulate their winning account strategies based upon customer politics, evaluator psychology, and the human nature of decision makers that are unique to every account. Read further about the Personality Traits of 1,000 Top Salespeople here.
4. Sales Process Ineffectiveness – Many companies have realized that their sales effectiveness didn’t improve even after spending a great deal of money and effort implementing a sales process methodology. The reason for this is because the “black hole” of the sales process is what happens during sales calls. Today, it’s the personal interactions with prospective customers that determines winners from losers, not the internal processes of the sales organization. In 2012 more companies will be studying and categorizing these customer interactions so they can improve sales force effectiveness. Read about 101 Advanced Sales Call Strategies here.
5. Organizational Buying Psychology – If you are involved in selling enterprise solutions, you already know the importance of understanding the inner workings of the various departments within the prospective customer’s company. Your solution might be purchased by the information technology department and used by accounting and human resources. Therefore, it’s critical to map out the interrelationships of the departments within an organization. The essence of successful enterprise sales is understanding not only who to sell to, but how to craft a message that appeals to various departmental constituents. Understanding organizational buying psychology becomes an even more critical topic in 2012.
6. No Decision as the Main Competitor – For sales forces involved with large capital expenditure sales cycles, never before has the mantra “Call High or Die” been so true. You must reach C-level executive decision makers early in the sales process because the default for organizations today is to do nothing and delay every major purchase.
7. Win-Loss Analysis Studies – Most companies are well versed on the logical arguments for selecting their product. However, the decision to make a major purchase is primarily based upon individual needs and desires, how the decision-makers receive information, and internal politics. Unfortunately many companies don’t do any type of win-loss analysis so they don’t understand their customers in these regards. Because of the economy and relentless competition, 2012 will be the year that many companies have to re-discover the lost art of win-loss analysis. Read about The Three Critical Win-Loss Objectives here.
One final trend that bears mentioning is the accelerated move from field-based sales to phone-based internet sales. Many companies have quickly transitioned the majority of their field reps to be almost exclusively phone based. Therefore, these reps must now be able to create winning relationships with their voices as opposed how they sold in the past with their physical presence. Never before, has understanding and mastering the art of persuasion been so important.