As the saying goes, the best way to predict the future is to create it. Yes, but before we create it, can we get a little head's up as to what we should be doing?
With 2014 almost behind us, it's time to start ramping up for the new year. 2015 represents a clean slate to sales organizations -- a time to start new initiatives. But what those initiatives should be can sometimes be a bit tricky to determine.
To provide you with some direction, we asked nine sales experts to give us their thoughts on what's coming down the pike in 2015. There are a few clear trends in the responses which savvy sales leaders will hop on to start crafting a bright future. Make them your new year's resolutions.
So without further ado, what will be big in 2015?
1) Craig Rosenberg, co-founder and chief analyst, TOPO Inc.
"Technology. We have reached phase two of the Sales 2.0 movement. Early on in the movement, early adopters got a bunch of applications. Some added value, and some didn't. Bottom line -- adoption was sub-optimal, and as a result, so was ROI. Now sales knows how to buy and implement technology. A true rise of the machines has happened and 2015 will be a manifestation of this."
2) Andy Paul, founder, Zero-Time Selling Inc.
"Data, big and small, will continue to grow in importance to sales. As it becomes ever easier to collect, analyze, test, and use performance data and customer data, its influence will be felt in all aspects of sales."
3) Ken Thoreson, president, Acumen Management Group
"We believe the focal points in 2015 will be velocity and execution -- increasing the speed of the sales cycle and number of orders received. Becoming brilliant in execution during each stage is critical. This has to do with customers' need to quickly take action, their existing knowledge, and margin/COS pressures."
4) Alice Heiman, founder and chief sales officer, Alice Heiman LLC
"I see companies moving back to training and coaching. With the dip in the economy, they weren’t spending money on these things. Now companies are looking for training and willing to spend money on coaching their sales leaders and salespeople. It’s a good trend. Everyone needs a coach."
5) Mark Roberge, chief revenue officer, HubSpot
"For decades, sales technology has been tailored towards the leader and manager. This was the case because sales leaders were the only ones with budget, so why would a business build software for someone who didn't have budget or decision making authority? But now we're seeing an explosion in software built for front-line salespeople. And this is an enormous opportunity for salespeople to take a step back from their current processes and not necessarily reinvent them but use technology to speed them up and make a better experience for the buyer by understanding buyers' context and engagement on an even deeper level."
6) Michael Schultz, co-president, RAIN Group
"I think the push to insight selling is still in its nascent phase. It's going to cross the chasm and continue to take hold in all places."
7) Matt Sharrers, partner, Sales Benchmark Index
"The lack of connection between corporate strategy, product strategy, marketing strategy, sales strategy, and people strategy will continue to be the number one reason sales forces miss the number. Too many siloed efforts not working in concert will cause companies to underperform."
8) Laurie Page, managing partner, The Bridge Group
"I think an emerging trend for 2015 is technology that can help improve reps' productivity, but at same time [it's] a challenge. There are so many tools out there and many of them are now offering other features, so it can get confusing. Have a process in place to evaluate and to prove an ROI in the investments you’ve made."
9) Jason Jordan, partner, Vantage Point Performance
"Over the past few years, we have seen a groundswell of interest in front-line sales managers. They are finally being recognized as critical change agents in the sales force that has been severely neglected to date. Next up will be the second-line sales managers, who are just now coming into focus."