Ah, the good old days of sales. Open the phone book or buy a list, start calling, talk to prospects, book meetings, and make the sale. Rinse and repeat. Top sales reps become managers. Top managers become executives. Then, some venture into entrepreneurship and start their own sales coaching, training or consulting business.
In the past, a sales consultant’s primary emphasis was to train people. In the future, there will be fewer humans involved in sales. Top performers will be the ones who leverage software.
If sales consultants cannot incorporate these tools into their training, they also risk becoming obsolete. However, the opportunity has never been so immense -- global CRM spending is predicted to hit $40 billion in 2017. While shifts in technology disrupt existing consulting businesses, they’re also an immense opportunity for the companies who are proactive.
1) Buyers will stop picking up the phone
It’s more challenging than ever before to engage buyers one-on-one. Only 2% of cold calls convert into an appointment. People want to purchase without talking to a human. Yelp has changed buyers’ dependency on and trust of third party reviews. Amazon has changed buyers’ expectations for a streamlined checkout experience. B2C commerce has transformed buyers’ comfort level of purchasing products and services without talking to humans (think: Blue Apron, Spotify, Casper Mattress).
Forrester predicts that one million B2B sales people will lose their jobs to self-service eCommerce by 2020, accounting for 20% of the B2B sales force. They also predict that more than 80% of the buying process is expected to occur without any direct human-to-human interaction. Sales jobs will be fundamentally different in a decade because they’ll have to be less reliant on phone calls.
2) “Try before you buy” is the new industry standard
Dropbox’s freemium model is a great example of “try before you buy.” Individual users can try the cloud storage software for free -- they don’t need permission from IT or sign a lengthy contract to get started. The initial user tries it, likes it and shares it with another colleague, who also tries it for free. Before you know it, a handful of people at that company are using the product. Now, Dropbox has a compelling case for selling an enterprise deal to that company because a bunch of users have already tried it out for free and loved it.
Uber has also seen high growth by using low-risk trials to capture new customers. By giving away $20 in free credit for every new user, Uber discovered a way for consumers to try their service for very low risk. This incentive removes any barriers to trying out the app.High-growth companies have learned to add value before extracting value. This is the new normal.
3) The line between Sales and Marketing is blurring
The line between these two teams is dissolving because of sales enablement -- the technology, processes, and content that empower sales teams to sell efficiently at a higher velocity. Automated prospecting has made it possible for salespeople can come to work in the morning and have calls already scheduled through marketing automation and meeting scheduling tools. Now that marketing can tie their work to revenue, that line is becoming even more blurred.
Content is now being created by more than just marketing teams. It’s more broad than simply ebooks, webinars and white papers. Content -- email templates, product demo decks, case studies and competitive intelligence briefs -- is created by sales enablement and sales teams. Global investments in content marketing are expected to surpass $300B by 2020. In fact, 40% of content is created by sales.
4) The sales acceleration software industry is exploding
The more money companies invest in their technology stack, the more they need experts to guide them through the sales acceleration tool jungle (see below). Think about it -- would you really want to risk thousands of dollars and navigate this landscape alone?
Twenty years ago, software selection was limited, clunky, and took a long time to implement. Fast forward to present day. It’s lightweight, almost effortless to implement, and in many cases free. That means sales consultants are not as essential for the same reasons they once were. They need to rethink their pricing model. Big, bulky projects for tens or thousands of dollars, are undeniably on the endangered species list.
Instead, buyers demand that consultants and CRM implementers evolve from “doers and technologists” to “advisers and strategists.” The silver lining is that a consultant's service engagement should transform away from expensive one-time implementation projects and instead, towards monthly, predictable recurring revenue streams.
5) Businesses will finally figure out they need to train their people
Companies can’t simply buy more technology to solve a problem. Sales organizations spend an average of $4,797 per quota-carrying rep on enablement technology annually, according to CEB Global. Yet, 40% of sales reps miss quota. Throwing money at a problem won’t fix it.
According to InsideSales.com and the AA-ISP, sales managers have complained about the exact same issue -- training and development -- for three years running. If sales consultants can figure out a way to bolster in-person training with technology, the opportunity will be massive.
HubSpot launched our Sales Referral Partner Program. It’s designed for sales consultants, sales coaches and trainers, and CRM implementation companies who want to evolve their company to keep up with all the changes laid out in this post. The program includes industry-leading sales technology for you and your clients, and on-demand educational resources to teach how to market, sell, and deliver modern sales services. You can learn more here.
Originally published Feb 8, 2017 6:30:00 AM, updated February 05 2019