Sales Enablement Predictions for the New Year
Here are a few sales enablement predictions to pay attention to in 2018 and beyond.
Thought we’d start a new tradition over here at EveryoneSocial, inspired by Rand Fishkin over at Moz: our top 9 sales enablement predictions for the year. Towards the beginning of each year we’ll lay out our predictions, then at the end of the year, we’ll review them to see how we did.
Below are my sales enablement predictions for 2018. I think it’s going to be a very big year for sales teams. We’ve seen accelerating change over the last few years; not only do we see that continuing, I think it’s going to further separate the leaders from the laggards (like an expanding accordion).
Let’s jump in.
1. Salespeople are going to spend less time inside their company’s CRM
Was recently speaking with a friend at Forrester who said something to the effect of “CRM is dying!” I’m not going to be the one to make that claim, however, it seems very clear that CRM is going to be changing, likely significantly so over the coming years.
My first sales enablement prediction for 2018 is that the increasing complexity of/frustration with CRMs combined with the plethora of single-purpose 3rd party tools will further decrease the number of time salespeople spends in their company’s CRM.
The challenge for companies is going to be distill/simplify/automate their internal processes to ensure they’re recording the actions and activities of their salespeople even when they’re spending less time inside of the CRM. The good news? This is totally doable, even at scale.
2. Social selling will become the norm amongst top-performing sales teams
More and more teams are going to start making social selling a core part of their training and enablement programs. The reason is simple: traditional channels such as email and phone are becoming less and less effective, a trend that is not going to reverse course.
By comparison, every single person your salespeople want to reach is on social media. Further, there aren’t many sales teams using social at scale, which makes it a target-rich environment with low competition. Still not a believer? Look at what Genesys has done.
3. Major social networks will prioritize user content over brands and publishers
Snapchat’s (not a very relevant b2b social platform, but bear with me) announcement from a few weeks ago and Facebook’s announcement the other Friday make it clear that social networks are and will continue to prioritize content from users over that from brands and publishers. For the networks, it’s all about ensuring user adoption, engagement, and retention, which is critical to their long-term success.
Brands and publishers may be the losers (unless they have an employee advocacy program in place), but social sellers are clearly the winners: it means the things your salespeople are sharing will appear higher up in the feeds of their networks. Of course, it’s not as simple a having your salespeople blast everyone in their network; like any other channel, the winners are the ones who focus on cultivating real relationships.
4. Point solutions will continue to be chosen over all-in-one platforms
Years ago, it used to be that large companies needed (supposedly) one-stop-shops when it came to marketing or sales solutions (just look at the companies acquired by Salesforce over the last 10+ years). That is no longer the case: in today’s world of b2b buyers, best-of-breed point solutions (email, predictive scoring, prospecting, etc.) win the day.
This will result in a few things: 1) continued success for the smaller, more focused players, 2) trouble for the bigger players and 3) likely some consolidation (big eating the small). All that said, it’s important that buyers thoroughly vette any identified vendor; the last thing you want is to fall short of your goal because your vendor didn’t deliver.
5. Continued focus on enabling the individual salesperson
The last 10 years have been about the CRM (basically a management reporting tool) and top-level strategy when it comes to sales. In a word: monolithic. 2018 and the next 5+ years are going to be about continuing to enable and empower the salesperson to navigate an increasingly complex landscape. Sales enablement is about providing salespeople with the tools and information they need, wherever and whenever they need it.
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6. Mobile tools and services will continue to gain adoption
Which leads us to the proliferation of mobile tools and services. Unless your an SDR/BRD desk-jockey charged with making 200 calls per day (I’m sorry…), mobile apps are where you spend most of your time. It’s really about the increased competition: to win, your people need tools an information in situ, which may be in a meeting, on the plane, at a tradeshow, at a client event, riding the train, etc. While it likely won’t be 2018, I think we can all see the day when salespeople will do everything via one or more mobile devices.
7. Internal engagement and usage metrics are going to get a lot more attention
For all the amazing advancements happening out there in the world of b2b sales, all but the very best companies continue to struggle with salesperson engagement: are your salespeople using the tools you’ve provided them 1) properly and 2) on a consistent/frequent basis. If the answer to either of those is “no” then you have a problem.
Historically vendors have shied away from reporting internal engagement numbers back to the client. You might be able to guess why (hint: it’s because the numbers usually aren’t very good). However, leading vendors and clients understand engagement is the foundation of success and expect them to be more proactive around tracking and sharing those numbers in 2018.
8. LinkedIn InMail is dead as a prospecting/engagement tool (bloom is off the rose)
There’s an old engineering joke in business software that every product eventually turns into an email client. We all know what InMail is and for years certain salespeople have been crowing about its amazing open rates, how it should replace email, etc., etc., etc. Perhaps you’ve been dubious of these claims like we have.
Well, we’re calling it: InMail is dead. Aside from the fact that, according to our own research and audits it has never come close to delivering the results some would say it does, Linkedin is hard at work monetizing it as a channel for both advertisers and premium subscribers. From what we’ve seen, there are many other areas you and your salespeople could be spending your time to achieve better results.
9. Email is going to become all but irrelevant for cold-prospecting
For the last few years, email has had a bit of a renaissance. Many, many blog posts have been written on the topic (subject line optimization, best days/times to send, etc., etc.,). That said, usage by salespeople as a prospecting channel has reached unsustainable levels, I think largely thanks to email automation tools for salespeople (e.g., Salesloft Cadence, Outreach.io, etc.).
Not that automation is bad, it’s just that you probably have a better chance of winning the lottery in a low-population state than you do seeing someone respond to your cold email in a positive manner. The worst part: degradation in results means that people are sending MORE emails to try and make up for it. C’mon, the world does not need more cold (and often poorly written) emails.
So there they are, our sales enablement predictions for 2018. I guess we’ll have to wait a year to see how correct we were.
Regardless of our ultimate grade, I hope you agree that this year promises to be another year full of change. No matter if you agree/disagree (and would love to hear your thoughts if you want to leave a comment), these are the things to think about and prepare for. Here’s to a smashing 2018!
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