12 sales trends for 2014: The year of the thinking sales organisation

12 sales trends for 2014: The year of the thinking sales organisation

With 2013 behind us we thought you would like to take a look at our annual 12 Sales Trends Report for 2014. Gone are the days of managing sales by processes and numbers alone.

With the changes we are experiencing as a result of the digital revolution and the commoditisation of quality, it’s become a thinking person’s game.

As a result, the Barrett Consulting Group’s annual Sales Trends Report for 2014 has selected the theme: “The Thinking Sales Organisation”.

Smart companies know sales operations are complex systems that involve many variable outcomes making it almost impossible to predict, with any degree of certainty, what will happen. Nothing in sales has ever been predictable. Now, with rampant change, that unpredictability has increased in pace and impact.

The following is a sneak peek of each of the 12 sales trends. You can purchase and download the detailed 49 page report to see which trends will have the greatest impact on your sales operations in 2014.

Sales Trend 1: Sales management will look to drive costs out of sales

In 2014, sales managers are going to come under increasing pressure to drive costs out of sales. While being effective and generating more business will continue as the main focus of selling, cutting cost out of sales and selling at better margins are going to be the two primary challenges, as management looks to squeeze profits from a somewhat stagnant market.

As a result, these are likely to be the major focus areas: sales managers redefining sales territories; looking for new and more efficient ways to service low-value customers; and a shift away from volume as an indicator of sales success to a combination of volume and value.

Sales Trend 2: Telesales will have to make dramatic changes

With the increasing demands of more sophisticated buyers, telesales operators, who have traditionally focused on the uncomplicated sale of easy-to-understand commodities, are going to have to increase their knowledge base and learn to sell solutions to buyers who are more demanding, more knowledgeable and with higher expectations.

This shake-up means a radical re-think for telesales operations. Smart companies will see their telesales teams as a vital part of their overall sales operation. Some may even bring back in house those telesales teams that were previously outsourced or offshored.

Sales Trend 3: Sales excellence managers will find their real role

Smart companies are dispensing with their sales excellence operations and incorporating it back into the sales management function. This sales trend will see sales managers, who are and have always been responsible for sales excellence, face pressure to resume this responsibility and deliver sales excellence. In the process, sales excellence managers will either revert to their original role of sales training managers or find themselves being deployed elsewhere in the sales operations chain.

Sales Trend 4: Sales training methodologies are going to change

Sales training is not going to disappear; however, it will change its shape. As the market becomes more complex and competition more virulent salespeople will need more, not less training. But they will also have less time to be trained.

These two forces – increased competition with the need to up-skill salespeople and less time for training – will make identifying different training methods key to success. The trend in 2014 will be for companies to reduce the cost of training while still developing their salespeople. Blending e-learning with classroom work and in-field coaching is going to become the focal point of training this year.

Sales Trend 5: The move to micro sales segmentation

The complexities of selling in 2014 are going to demand a re-think on the part of sales managers. Relying, as they have in the past, on marketing’s broader brush approach to segmentation is not going to cut it anymore, and sales will have to re-assess how it goes about segmenting target markets.

As sales is learning, becoming tighter, almost micro market focused, defining the most attractive segments is the function of strategic sales in 2014. Getting it wrong can end up costing the organisation too much.

Sales Trend 6: The low carbon economy sales opportunities

Despite many governments lagging behind in terms of creating and endorsing low carbon policies and industries, forward-thinking organisations are taking the lead on creating low/no carbon businesses and partnering with each other.

And it’s not just big business; there is a growing number of SMEs driving change too. There are massively big opportunities for innovation and product/service development in a low carbon economy as well as social evolution.

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