The sales profession is in a deep state of flux. It’s transitioning to a digital-first approach from an offline, seller-driven approach, with the focus moving firmly to the buyer.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly played its part in this shift, accelerating the digitisation of all things and effectively, revolutionising the nature of communications. To thrive after disruption of that scale, companies must alter their sales strategies and make them future-forward.
According to The Future of Sales in 2025 report by Garner, by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur through digital channels.
That is the future of sales right there: largely digital, customer-driven and powered by a “convergence of hyper-automation, digital scalability and artificial intelligence.” Safe to say, the sales process will be driven by data, analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).
Teams that are willing to tweak their sales strategies to be more customer-centric are the ones that will thrive in future and outperform teams that don’t adopt this approach.
1. Data will drive sales in the future
Way back in May 2017, The Economist published a story titled The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data This applies as much to the world of sales as it does to the world of business as a whole.
The digital footprints of customers reveal the products that interest them and the time it takes them to reach a purchase decision. These insights are extremely useful when tailoring sales campaigns and coming up with targeted offers.
As you delve deeper, there are many data points to consider: buyer behaviour and readiness, lead scores, buyer readiness, interaction preferences and customer sentiment.
A good CRM system, powered by cloud technology and integrated with your cloud sales, can help you gather and analyse this data. It will also enable you to create rich customer profiles which you can tap into for sales insights and to analyse sales trends. This data will also help improve the quality of your mass messaging, say through bulk SMSes.
At a larger level, tabulated data will help you deploy sales resources efficiently, create better products for the market and figure out which product is at the end of its life cycle. You can move into proactive product innovation by combining a knowledge of product interest patterns with product utilisation measurement.
And the role of AI in all this cannot be ruled out. Since there is such a lot of (ever-increasing) data to trawl through, AI makes it easier for you to mine it for usable insights and convert it into a sales opportunity without hassles or errors.
The technology can help predict which opportunities to pursue and which not to. It can predict which customers you are in danger of losing and if to still pursue them or not. Basically, AI can make the salesforce more effective by tracking their performance. And combined with data, it can also help you track call centre agents’ performance.
2. Digital is the future of all things, including sales
Going forward, we can expect a majority of sales engagements to occur via digital channels and most sales to close digitally. Companies that are agile and willing to adopt a customer-engagement model that takes the digital-first approach will rule the future of sales. This approach requires expanding sales channels as opposed to growing the salesforce and creating engagement that encourages omnichannel buying.
The present-day scenario is still not quite there. An in-person offline sales approach is still the norm.
The importance of digital sales channels is recognised but this is more often than not lip service. The future is omnichannel, and you will have to meet customers in a channel of their preference and at their terms. Sellers will have no choice but to “use multiple, different and simultaneous digital sales channels.”
According to the Gartner study cited above: “Sellers need digital tools that build engagement with customers, and particularly with their customers’ decision-makers, in a way that replicates the traditional forms of selling.”
3. The future of sales is customer-centric
Every company likes to say they are customer-centric but are they truly? It’s still more talk, less action for most organisations.
The thing is—it’s the customers who decide whether a company is customer-centric or not, and not the other way round. In any case, they make their opinion fairly well known on various social networks these days.
So, in the future, sales teams will have to ensure that they are actually satisfying their customers. An excellent CRM powered by cutting-edge cloud telephony can assist sales teams in tailoring their approach to their customers’ needs.
4. Buyers will have more leverage
“Information parity has created the greatest change we’ve seen in the entire history of sales. Since 1884, when John H. Patterson first created many of the fundamentals of selling, we’ve never seen a greater change in sales than the one we’re witnessing right now. Educated and demanding buyers have never been part of the sales dynamic—and the fact they dominate the space now is a game changer,” says Graham Hawkins, Founder and CEO, SalesTribe.
With easy access to information and a wealth of options at their disposal, buyers are already calling the shots. The future is buyer-led without a doubt and these trends will force the reinvention of sales strategy.
Also, buyer behaviour is shifting constantly and requires a complementary shift in sales strategy. This may even require a complete overhaul of a company’s sales strategy.
5. Cloud systems are the future of sales
With a majority of the workforce working remotely, owing to the pandemic, companies realised employees should have remote access to essential work tools and platforms. Cloud technology has come to the rescue and helped revamp business communications systems.
Cloud telephony has a huge impact on the productivity of sales representatives as well. For one, it takes over manual tasks so that the sales force can focus on what it does best: sales and sales strategy.
Tools like auto-diallers, click-to-call and automatic logging of call details in the CRM come in handy for this. Of course, CRMs, today, do so much more than just gather data efficiently.
Cloud is definitely the future of business. Cloud technologies are revolutionising the way organisations do business. Subscription-based models are finding greater acceptability because they are so flexible and scalable.
In the future, there could be greater adoption of hybrid cloud models. There are many sectors—banking, healthcare and education among them—which can be dramatically transformed with the implementation of cloud technologies.
6. Sales in future will be collaborative
The integration of CRM systems and cloud communications allows sales and marketing efforts to be aligned like never before. It allows customer information and business intelligence to be stored and organised efficiently. The cloud also makes the information centrally available and accessible from anywhere at any time. Customer-facing teams have access to the latest information and can interact with clients from a place of knowledge.
This kind of collaboration across your organisation can improve the customer experience by leaps and bounds. It also ensures proper routing of calls to appropriate agents and departments, so no sales leads are lost or left unaddressed.
In the future, every sales opportunity will count; and with cloud telephony, you will never have to miss a lead.
7. Automation will drive sales
Going by current trends, the future will bring innumerable touchpoints between a company and its consumers throughout the sales process. These will be embedded in multiple channels, and there is no way humans can respond adequately to all of them. Therefore, sales trends indicate hyper-automation, and a variety of automated sales tech tools will help bolster the digital sales process.
An intuitive and evolved IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system is a great way to automate the more mundane parts of the sales process. With a good IVR, customer calls will be directed to the appropriate sales team quickly and efficiently.
As business communications evolve, smarter IVRs will be required. Cloud telephony allows you to customise the IVR process for efficient call routing and a seamless customer experience. With cloud telephony, IVR, which was once complex to set up, is much more manageable.
Since the future is mobile, it stands to reason that cloud telephony is the future. Cloud telephony solutions can turn a CRM system from a mere data collection software to something that nurtures leads, engages customers and powers your company’s growth.
A cloud telephony-backed CRM is a mine of information that can be used to plan your sales strategy and improve call centre agents’ performance.
Sales representatives have to accept the fact that, in the future, the sales process will be digital-first. And companies that want to stay relevant will have to embrace the digital revolution, keep abreast of technology trends, and harness the power of cloud telephony to transform their sales strategy.