The 12 sales trends that will drive business in 2015

The 12 sales trends that will drive business in 2015
Selling products to a customer

Selling products to a customer

Sales is an ever-changing dynamic. In 2015 the theme for Barrett’s Sales Trends is ‘Transparency and the Middle Path’.

This theme acknowledges that we live in a complex world of many moving parts, with the idea that to achieve sustainable results and success we need to treat everything in moderation accompanied by a new openness, whether by choice or not.

Over the years, business and sales leaders have often focused solely on a single idea as their pathway to success, shifting from one to the other as strategies proved ineffective. More recently, there has been a realisation that a more balanced approach (where a number of different aspects are given equal weighting) is potentially more appropriate and more effective for their businesses, especially in an increasingly complex world. This makes sense; however, it isn’t always easy to hold several aspects in concert at the same time and make them work, or communicate this complexity in a considered and practical manner.

Equally, in today’s digital climate where information of all kinds is disseminated so easily and readily, people are expecting (and in many cases demanding) greater transparency from organisations in a variety of arenas – think price, supply chain sourcing, how things are made/grown, social conscious, higher purpose and so on. Today’s chief executives and sales leaders need to be more aware of not only how they are doing business, but also how they are communicating this information and the impact their openness, or lack thereof, is having on the hearts and minds of their customers, stakeholders and the broader community.

So to kick off the new year, here is a sneak peek of the full 57-page report you can get here. See which sales trends will have the greatest impact on your business and sales teams in 2015.

Trend 1 – Race to the bottom

The business environment is now littered with broken companies and suppliers who together are engaging in a toxic race to the bottom by pushing down prices lower than the supply chain can accommodate. Unprofitable supply chains can only deliver risk and failure to those who depend on them. This race will intensify in 2015 for companies (both suppliers and buyers) which have relied on price reduction for survival.

If you don’t want to be another casualty, it is best to avoid this race at all costs. 2015 will see smart organisations adapt to mechanisms of cost reduction rather than price control. This means both buyers and suppliers will look to deliver real value beyond product and price.

Trend 2 – Retail: From app to bricks-and-mortar

For a long time now we have been hearing how online retailers (or e-tailers) are killing the bricks-and-mortar retail industry. Low performing retailers complain that the competition is unfair, since e‑tailers have fewer expenses (they don’t need a central location for their store – if any at all, they need barely any staff, etc). Another focus of traditional retailers’ complaints against online stores is that people use the bricks-and-mortar shops to try on, feel, and choose products and then buy online.

So what happens when e-tailers decide to move into the bricks-and-mortar space?

This sales trend is moving towards a hybrid retailing model that embraces the advantages and challenges of a combined model.

Trend 3 – Are you ready for the share economy?

One of the worst consequences of over-consumerism has been the exponential growth in the amount of goods that end up in landfills. This is the result of a combination of many factors such as consumers buying things that they don’t need for long – or even at all – and the manufacturing of cheap goods that break easily and are un-repairable, amongst others. Coupled with this are the individuals and companies who recognise they have under-utilised goods, and are now looking for new ways of doing business.

The share economy ‘appeared’ as an alternative model to solve many of these problems and create a whole new market place. Be it peer-to-peer sharing, collaborative consumption, companies owning the goods and renting them, or individuals keeping the ownership, this new model will only keep on growing as we adapt to the new.

Trend 4 – Doing meaningful business

The current corporate setting where there’s a frantic chase for more and more (immediate, short-term) profit is not sustainable. Companies have always been a part of the communities in which they operate and more organisations are now realising there’s more to business than delivering dividends to shareholders.

New ideas and movements have been appearing and now they’re becoming mainstream: shared value, profit for purpose, conscious capitalism, the blue economy, social enterprise, etc. Businesses with heart are the businesses of the future. This means that business leaders need to rethink the meaning of business and heed the signs of more integrated meaningful business models.

In the short term, we will see some businesses act wildly as their status, their modus operandi is threatened, but in the long term these changes will become more and more mainstream.

Trend 5 – The new accountability in holistic learning

Learning and development has slowly but continuously been changing over the past few years. There are a variety of factors influencing this recent development. We are now looking at a fundamental shift in the learning cultures of organisations and a major reattribution from organisational accountability to people’s individual responsibility for enabling their own learning. In sales this will become the norm as salespeople will be given more opportunities to learn and develop their capabilities as they go about their daily activities.

Trend 6 – Recruiting for change and evolution

People have been trying to identify how to hire the ‘right’ people, especially salespeople for as long as jobs have existed. Given the increased employee fluctuation now occurring within workplaces, workplace environments themselves are in a constant state of flux. The ‘right people’ has shifted from those who ‘fit’ the environment, to those who can bring about the greatest improvements. Organisations will be focusing on the ‘learn to earn’ curve and how salespeople can deliver results quickly and sustainably.

Trend 7 – Beyond KPIs

Ever since sales paradigms like solution selling and value based selling, or segmentation approaches like key account management have been recognised for the complexities they come with, sales strategists and managers have been eager to find ways to measure and ensure their overall effectiveness. Now the idea is moving from a performance review (post-activity) to a coaching situation (pre or during activity); moving management from feared-based to support and empowerment.

Trend 8 – Unearthing the real neuroscience in sales: We cannot read minds yet

Recently, there has been a shift from economic models to emotion-based or psychological models of selling. The shift to emotional, psychological, and scientific models has been occurring across other areas of business for many years, so it comes as no surprise that it is now happening in sales.

However, rather than talking about emotion-based models, people are jumping straight to scientific terminology and talking about using neuroscience in sales.

Savvy sales teams need to be wary of companies using the term ‘neuro’ in their offerings. They need to do their due diligence and ensure that the science these companies are using is correct and appropriate for what they are claiming.

Trend 9 – Back to the village

After ‘globalisation’ and the novelty of ‘worldly’ products began to wane, and the economic impact of the import/export markets were felt more locally, people started to shift back to purchasing Australian made products.

At a global market scale, consumers are moving towards a ‘buy local’ mindset (manufactured or produced goods), but larger businesses won’t be left behind either. This trend points to some very interesting maneuvering by big corporates and local businesses as they vie for the client’s custom.

Trend 10 – Oops! I’m in sales

With the negative connotation that the word ‘salesperson’ brings to many people, it’s not surprising that many don’t want to be associated with sales. They prefer to think in terms of ‘helping’, ‘I just ask questions’, and so on. However, more and more people are starting to realise what good selling is and discovering that they are in sales too. This trend sees the emergence of the notion that everybody lives by selling something.

Trend 11 – The rise of the freelancer

The freelancers are becoming an essential part of the talent pool. Companies can no longer ignore them as a valuable resource to complement their permanent staff. Companies need to adapt to their working mode and freelancers need to learn how to sell.

Trend 12 – Re-imagining procurement as a centre of innovation and sustainability

Since the early 1990s, the default modus operandi for a majority of procurement functions – across the spectrum of public and private sectors and industries – has been the exercise of strategic sourcing. The value proposition has been cost reductions. Smart organisations know that the value of procurement now relies on their capacity for innovation, and more resilient and lower risk supply chains based on true value.

Remember, everybody lives by selling something.

Get the full 57-page Sales Trends for 2015 report here. Sue Barrett is the founder and chief executive of Barrett Consulting Group and SalesEssentials.


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