Your sales team’s success depends on understanding this year’s top sales trends

Technology is just one of the many impacts on the sales industry.  As high performing sales people, we understand the key to success is knowing our market, and its behaviours, so we can adapt and find opportunities.

These are the top sales trends to take advantage of this year.

  1. Millennials
  2. Gen X
  3. Shorter Timelines
  4. Human Centred Sales
  5. Influence of the Finance Dept
  6. Selling without selling
  7. CRM Systems
  8. Staff training
  9. Buyers are evolving


  1. Millennials

Born 1981-1996, they are 22 –37 years old and now of an age to be selling as their profession.  They have considerable buying power.  They understand media and how it works and so as consumers exhibit specific behaviours.

Why is this ‘generation’ so interesting?

They are the first that have been born into a world where accessibility and immediacy are the norm and is a basic expectation.

  1. They expect instant gratification. No need to wait for food – there’s Uber Eats. No need to wait for a movie – On Demand TV. No need to even learn pick-up lines – just swipe right. The patience muscle hasn’t been exercised nearly enough!
  2. They also are native technology users. As sales people they type directly into a CRM system as apposed to note pads,
  3. They are more adaptable because their life is constantly evolving as does technology.
  4. Change and evolution of products, concepts and ideas is the norm. The concept of inertia doesn’t come into play. LinkedIn is prevalent and obvious.
  5. They don’t have the baggage or nostalgia of ‘this won’t work, I tried this once’.

What millennials need in the workplace to assist them:

  • Purpose
  • progression plans
  • to be heard
  • flexible hours
  • bean bags
  • real coffee.

Expect job hopping as they seek the best work environments.

What do millennials find challenging?

  • picking up the phone to speak with someone
  • to build relationships over the phone
  • knowing there’s a time and place for using their mobiles and emojis
  • not looking at their apple watch during meetings
  • keeping off their phone, did I mention keeping off…. (the phone is as much a part of them as wearing shoes).

Millennials as clients have strong purchasing power. Their Google searches focus on organic results – they know the paid ads are paid and may not represent the best place to buy.  They are buying and searching through their phone and other mobile devices. They look at reviews and take them seriously in their purchase decisions.

  1. Gen X

 Born 1965-1980 – they are 38-53 years old and will have had understood and lived in a household that experienced ‘doing without’ or waiting until the money was saved up.  They are used to working longer in jobs and slowly working their way up the ladder. In fact, many may have not even considered a ladder and just wanted to get in and do a good job. Rewards are something they believed they would earn over time. They don’t expect to be director without earning their stripes.

Gen X strengths:

  • loyalty
  • longevity
  • building trust
  • being reliable
  • doing what they said they were going to do
  • eye contact.

Gen X challenges

  • technology isn’t native so for some and adapting to new systems can be frustrating
  • they may not be fast at typing, so could be slower to fill in CRMS and doing proposals
  • if they have worked for a long time in one place they have legacy issues. ‘We tried that; it didn’t work then, it won’t work now’.

Some business owners may be left behind by not adapting to current trends – instead they complain about the market being harder. This suggests they aren’t evolving and adapting their business to what clients need. Some Gen X leaders are not looking at contemporary approaches to the sales teams and how a sale happens in 2020.

The solution: lots of training on 2020 – what it takes to be a dynamic leader and a masterful salesperson.

  1. Shorter timelines, quicker turnarounds

Businesses focus on quarterly activity at the expense of longer term.  Depending on their product/service this shortens the buying cycle.

The lead time for your sales team is drastically reduced.

What your sales team need to do to succeed:

  • being able to read the client and other key decision makers/influencers
  • get ‘buy in’ and keep the client seeing them as the authority in what you sell
  • being first of the mark – first in, best dressed – with a productive explorative meeting and then a powerful, alignment in your solution proposal.
4.    Human-centred sales

Our business and our sales teams need to evolve their skills so that they operate in a manner that looks after customers, suppliers, employees and the planet.  Making a profit and doing good in the world can go hand in hand. If you have values around responsibility – have a mission statement your team understand so that, when appropriate, they can share it with clients.

  1. The finance department has more say than before

 So many businesses are run by a Financial Director. What does this mean for your sales team?

It means they have to sell to more influencers. More people at the top are looking at that proposal. This means they need to be highly skilled at sales and ensuring they are meeting the right people and having the right sort of conversations.  They need to be highly adaptable to different needs from the array of decision makers in the business. They need to know how to sell to one person and equip that person to be able to ‘sell it on’ through the business. At Smarter Selling we call this ‘the pull through’.

  1. Selling without selling

2020 will see the rise of the honest sale, the authentic sale, the consultative approach. Place yourself as the authority and just like a ‘doctor’ diagnoses – then prescribes, as does the salesperson.

By the time the salesperson provides a solution, the client should trust them enough to be leaning in and listening to them and taking the advice given by that expert.

No more pushing, persuading or ‘dirty tactics’. Step up and make sales professional.

  1. CRM systems

Systems have been the buzz word for over five years now and each year sees improvements in the simplicity and how it can make your day more efficient.

Salespeople need to embrace systems – like CRMs – and see them as the time saving tool that they are designed to be.  Some people are ahead of the curve here – many are behind not filling it in and not using it effectively. Data out is only as good as data in.

  1. Staff Training

In 2010 it looks like this:  start the job, get your desk and a phone and get on with it.

In 2020 it looks like this : interactive staff training, intranet, product training.  Regular Sales and customer service training.

To keep your team ahead of the curve, leading the way, accountable, proactive and high performers they need to be set up for success.

This starts with the induction for new people.  Choose carefully who is assigned to ‘walk around’ the newbie. (Make sure they are a model of excellence and a true ambassador for your brand).  Then engage outside sales training experts to get your team on the front foot, up skilled and polished in their day to day interactions with colleagues and clients. 

  1. Buyers are always evolving

 Buyers have more intelligence at their fingertips.  They are doing a lot more research before needing to engage with a representative of any business and make their purchase decision.

It means your sales message needs to have absolute clarity.  It needs to be clear how your solution will assist them and then make it easy to buy from you.  Buyers are reaching out based on their personal preferences – they may pick up the phone or use live chat or submit a form – when they want more information.

It’s very clear you need to ensure your sales team are fully equipped to recognise and create opportunities and be able to have compelling conversations about the solution with their prospects, as well as (ideally) getting in first as the trusted advisor.

Businesses are engaging with potential clients further down the sales funnel. The client has done their research and now they need human interaction. Businesses that arm their team with great soft skills across phone and face to face skills will win the race here as others hide behind their computers emailing clients.

It’s a ‘human contact’ sport! Pick up the phone and start building trust!

Read our 5 top tips to optimise your sale skills.



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