I was recently a guest presenter, along with Greg Brush of InsideView, on a webinar hosted by The TAS Group. I talked about ESR's predictions for 2011. There are a lot of predictions floating around the sales blogs these days. I don't feel a need to repeat what others have said, so you might find these predictions a bit off the usual path.
Here they are:
1. Coaching Will Surge.
In the past, coaching was one of the first items stripped from sales training budgets, if it was even included in the first place. Many sales leaders who appreciated the value of coaching with respect to the sports teams they root for, didn't really understand what effective coaching is, and the impact it will have on their team's performance. Coaching is a skill. It can be learned and measured. Effective coaching supports sales people in the adoption of and compliance with the behavioral change required to follow a (new) sales process. Coming into 2011, sales trainers have a new focus on coaching. More good news is that many sales training buyers are no longer willing to automatically cut coaching from their overall approach to sales effectiveness. So you'll see a lot more attention to coaching in the form of articles, new service offerings from providers, and, on the buy-side, the willingness to spend money on process, training, and measurement around coaching.
2. The Focus on Negotiation Capabilities Will Increase.
Procurers and buyers are far ahead of sellers in terms of strategy, skills, tactics, and outcomes. I recently wrote a post entitled, Right Now, Your Customer Is Learning How to Kick Your Butt. It's worth a read. We saw in 2010 that negotiation has become a primary requirement for nearly every ESR client. That being the case, we've found few companies with a documented strategic negotiation process. The good news is that providers like Huthwaite, Think! Inc., and The Bay Group have solid strategic negotiation offerings and are making substantial progress in this area. During the webinar, I offered a basic five-step process for sales leaders to begin to regain any momentum that has been lost with respect to their negotiating capabilities and outcomes:
1. Analyze closed (or lost in the final stage) 2010 deals for:
- Personnel and skills on both sides of the negotiating table;
- Strategies on both sides (timing factors, tier negotiating, etc.);
- Expected versus actual outcomes; and
- Process gaps, mistakes, unplanned and damaging concessions.
2. Define requirements for 2011based upon deficiencies (see above);
3. Build or buy appropriate process and tools to fully integrate into your overall sales methodology;
4. Train, reinforce, coach; then
5. Measure and adjust.
Granted, this is overly simplified, but hopefully get you thinking in a strategic (and analytical) way about your present situation.
3. Formal Social Media and Technology Strategies Will Broaden B2B Sales Impact.
Apart from all the hype around sales and selling technologies, we see:
- LinkedIn and Facebook increasing in use for finding and building professional relationships;
- Twitter, Chatter (Salesforce.com) and other micro-blogs usage will increase as well;
- YouTube, Vimeo, SlideShare, blogs, and other thought-leadership publishing tools will increase in usage.
- Technology-enabled learning will expand with companies like Richardson, The TAS Group, The Brooks Group, 3G Selling, Miller Heiman, and Imparta leading the way; and
- Technology-enabled selling (sales process automation, and Sales 2.0) will gain in user adoption through products from Cloud 9, InsideView, ZoomInfo, The TAS Group, and many others.
4. New and Expanding Sales Training Providers Will Gain in Market Share.
I didn't discuss this prediction on the webinar. We've been briefed by four companies that have recently either entered the sales training space, or who are expanding their offerings. You can expect to see Corporate Visions, The Bay Group, The Rain Group, and The Sales Executive Council's SEC Solutions all make substantial progress in 2011. They're doing many of the right things in the right way.