In 2014 we saw a burst of sales enablement/acceleration/productivity tools enter the market, creating myriad opportunity for improving sales performance. Based on our work with some of the largest, most progressive and successful sales teams in the past 12 months, however, here is what you can expect from 2015.
1. Solutions that focus on the human side of sales acceleration will disrupt the prevailing industry focus on process and content automation.
For the most part we’ve squeezed the obvious “wins" out of process tools such as CRM and content management. While these have provided reasonable “command and control” over sales processes, they haven’t delivered the anticipated impact on sales productivity to say nothing of revenue.
That’s because they are designed to overcome problems for sales and marketing organizations, and not necessarily for sales people, sales coaches – or customers. To do that, we need to tackle the bigger problem: what's in the sales person’s head. Is it the right set of skills, behaviors and knowledge? What do they say when addressing the needs of each prospect? Whatever it is, does it build credibility and win deals? How do you know?
There’s little doubt that your sales people are the key to driving opportunities. Changing rep behaviors and knowing with great confidence what they are prepared to bring to every client interaction is the missing link for sales leadership in 2015. It’s time to move on from the illusion that process tools like CRM, content management and machine-learning will produce magical results. In the real world, your CRM doesn’t close deals, your sales reps do.
This doesn’t necessarily mean more training or even a new sales methodology. But it does mean that to drive the sort of growth they might be expecting in 2015, companies need to find more effective ways to identify and proactively address these gaps at scale.
2. The consumerization of enterprise apps will increase demand for mobile-first sales enablement solutions.
The world has changed. Email is dying. Laptops going the way of the dodo. This isn’t just about the convenience of smartphones, it’s a whole new way to think and work. And the world has adopted it in droves.
Consumerization of enterprise apps will accelerate to the point that end users will see through “legacy applications in SaaS clothing” and only adopt those solutions that provide a simple, convenient way to get the job done – period.
The best companies are not just handing out devices but adopting apps that natively take advantage of mobile devices and how we use them. Simply moving a PowerPoint presentation onto a tablet and expecting someone to sit there for 45 minutes watching doesn’t work. Workflows must be designed to take advantage of the way we use these devices, not just shoehorn the old ways of working.
As industry watchers have suggested, this move is less about a BYOD model where IT groups ensure users’ devices can access the corporate network, and totally about greater productivity. Mobility will be absolutely pivotal to consumerization and many departments, particularly sales, will become 100% mobile, 100% of the time. Sales enablement strategies must address that, or die.
3. Sales performance analytics will move from simple to predictive and actionable, enabling radically new sales management models.
In 2015, a new category of business intelligence will enable the shift from artful sales management to one fueled by scientific rigor and real-time insights. This data-driven approach to sales management will give executives what they need to forecast sales performance with far greater confidence than ever before.
Fully integrated into mobile platforms, this new generation of predictive sales analytics and reporting will meaningfully connect predictive charts and data with prescriptive actions that sales teams can take to effect change.
Such solutions will instantly and continuously synthesize millions of data points into sales fluency “heat maps” and highly targeted coaching actions that help sales managers proactively align the behaviors of their sales people with growth initiatives. Gartner and others have already predicted the power of analytics to fundamentally change the way that sales management is conducted in 2015 and beyond. And we couldn’t agree more.
For more information on mobile-first solutions and data-driven sales insights such as these, please contact us today.