Sales is wildly different today than it was a few decades ago. Gone are the days of major business decisions being made over a steak dinner at a country club or during a round of golf.

So it’s a safe assumption that in another few decades or even years, sales will change again. But what will it look like?

What’s the Future of Sales?”, a report by SAP, gives us a glimpse.

For one thing, buyers will expect interactions with salespeople to be more focused than ever. Survey results indicated that 80% of buyers already know what they’re looking for before they contact a salesperson.

Furthermore, three-quarters (77%) of modern business leaders are concerned that the wrong purchase decision will waste company money, and just under two-thirds (58%) fret about wasting their time.

For another, salespeople’s value to buyers will overwhelmingly be tied to their expertise. High levels of product and company knowledge far outpaced “good personal relationships” or even “sharing responsibility for business risks” in terms of what buyers want from salespeople.

“With growing pressures at work, highly informed buyers will continue to be on the lookout for a trustworthy and worthwhile vendor that gives them a personalized, efficient purchase experience,” according to the report. “Vendors can prove that they truly understand their buyers by better anticipating their needs and providing valuable insights.”

Check out the infographic below for a visual summary of some of SAP’s most noteworthy findings about where sales is headed in 2016 and beyond.

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Originally published Sep 9, 2015 7:30:00 AM, updated July 28 2017

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Sales Statistics