Will companies be working with more salesmen in 2014? What exactly will companies do to stand apart from the competitors? Will CRM systems expand or contract? Exactly how will the economy impact business growth? These are some common problems we hear as we deal with audiences around the globe. Here are some predictions for the ideas and trends that will shape sales and business development in 2014.
1. Development of Subject Matter Experts
Purchasers can now get practically all of the information about your company, products, and services from your website. Nevertheless, exactly what they do not have is the trends, best practices, or imaginative applications that figure out whether or not there is a fit for the customer’s situation. Buyers will remain to value the subject matter professionals.
If you need to know whether you rise to this standard already, ask yourself if your ideal clients would value the conference from your group enough that they would spend for the session. If so, then you might already be there. If not, then you have a goal for 2014.
2. Content Becomes Emperor
In 2012, people said, “content is king.” In 2014, content will continue to be the core to building value and getting heard above the noise. Buyers (and Google) value the finest educators, as Marcus Sheridan of TheSalesLion.com says. It used to be that companies feared sharing their finest stuff on their websites. As even more initial investigations for solutions move to search engines, your ability to stick out from the crowd comes down to whether or not you are addressing the most important questions for your ideal customer. If you are stuck with your head in the sand, you might just get run over.
3. Continued Shift Toward Vertical vs. Geographic Focus
The shift from vertical to geographic focus tends to work in cycles. With the advancement in video-based communication and collaborative technologies, location becomes slightly less of a big deal. However, the increased value placed on subject matter expertise will shift the table in a huge way in 2014 toward vertical markets.
4. Collaborative Sourcing and Selling
Over the previous five years, there was a trend of buyers beating up on weaker suppliers. While the short-term goal of the buyer was a reduction in costs, the unintended consequence was the destruction of many suppliers and companies who either lacked a competitive advantage, or failed to identify their absence of negotiation and sales prowess before it was late. Ultimately, buyers lost a portion of their supply chain. The more advanced buyers will look for sellers with whom they can work collaboratively to get the best value. Buyers realize that the most inexpensive rate has little meaning if the vendor can not provide as needed.
Collaborative selling will reward results and outcomes, but will remain to punish those selling commodities.
5. The Shift Toward Project-Based Services Engagements
Purchasers have discovered that paying by the hour develops a disincentive for innovation and effectiveness. The longer it takes the vendor, the more they earn. However, for the client, the faster they get a solution, the better. The hourly-vendor who delivers the most efficiently makes the least money. In 2014, the top performing professional services organizations will start shifting as much as 30 % of their billing to project-based, or outcome-based pricing (with assumptions to protect themselves). Buyers really want results, and they’ll pay for it. Nevertheless, the savvy customer rarely wants to sign a blank check for hours of time without a defined outcome.
6. Tired of Waiting for the Economy– Build your own
Many economists say that the economy will continue to bump along in 2014 Ingenious companies with a great story will start putting their capital reserves to work to build their own economy. The economy grows when businesses grow. And, those with creativity and value will get tired of waiting for the supposed “economy” and will construct their own environment to thrive. This will drive faster development in the latter half of 2014 to bring into a strong 2015.
7. Hiring Trend for 2014
Acknowledge that there is a need for subject matter experts. Be on the lookout for businesses cross-training their subject experts on how to manage a sales process. Those who do hire sales professionals or sales managers will depend more on specialized recruiters to ensure their next hire is the right one. Hiring people who were just looking for work has actually burned many companies. Often, the employing companies uncovered that those people were out of work for a reason. There are great ways to find a gem without using a recruiter, but employers are still the very best way to attract superstars from other companies.
8. Streamlined CRM Solutions
Years ago, business recognized they needed something beyond a spreadsheet (or napkin) to keep track of their business pursuits. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions emerged to maintain knowledge, automate forecasting, and improve communication. However, over time, the CRM solutions have taken on a life of their own. The data entry demands had ended up being so overbearing that few companies enforced compliance (mostly since the only people who filled out all of the fields were the worst performing reps). Look for a shift in 2014 for business to recognize the top eight (or three) pieces of information they need to understand if a deal is legitimate or not. They will ask reps to maintain fewer pieces of information, but will require compliance.
9. Better Qualification for Efficient Pipelines
It used to be that if a company was trying to reach $5 million in revenue, it would frequently look for a pipeline of $8 to $10 million. Today, companies often set a three to five-time multiplier. So, for $5 million, they pursue $15 million to $25 million in opportunities. Sharp organizations have started tracking the expense related to pursuing unlikely deals. Instead of going after everything, companies will define certain criteria for what makes a good pursuit, and which ones should be dead on arrival. The definition maintains focus, and preserves resources for the proper pursuit of the opportunities that deserve the company’s attention. Look for companies to qualify based on the relative impact and importance to the customer of solving the issue, rather than the desire of the company to sell something.
10. Sincerity Prevails
With so much hype and old-school tactics, buyers will reward sellers who identify their own restrictions. Claiming you are an expert at everything will be hard to believe when the buyer can search to discover the truth. Humility and candor will be demanded skills in 2014.