Every year I give a rundown of the trends I see in the upcoming year. Of the top trends for 2017, specific sales trends will have direct impact on the bottom line. If you’re not planning for these trends, there is a good chance you could be falling behind your competitors.
Evolving Sales Roles
Today the three roles in sales include: the order taker, the salesperson, and the subject matter expert. The first role, order taker, is exactly what it sounds like: someone in this role simply takes orders and fulfills customer requests. Order takes will continue to be replaced by the convenience of automation from Amazon and related vendors. If it’s easier and it’s faster to buy from Amazon, the customer will make the purchase with a swipe and a click instead of placing a phone call.
The second role, salesperson, is someone who believes their job is to sell what their company offers to anyone who will buy it. And finally, we have the subject matter expert (SME). The SME offers enough expertise that the customer would be willing to pay for a meeting with them. Given a choice between the salesperson and the SME, clients prefer to meet with the subject matter expert. If your competitors provide SMEs as the client interface and you still just have salespeople, you might be missing out.
Subject Matter Experts Become The New Rainmakers
Historically, salespeople took the lead and were supported by SMEs. As you begin to evolve your sales roles, you should understand that SMEs bring high credibility and high integrity, but often lack proficiency in follow-through and managing the sales process. This is where you must pivot: support your subject matter experts with a team who can manage the sales process. Implement systems to guide SMEs through the sales steps.
Going hand in hand with the subject matter expert trend is knowing and utilizing the buyer’s buying process. The buying cycle for the client may greatly differ from the linear process envisioned by the seller. If you are not completely aware of the steps your clients take, you’ll be metaphorically playing the game in a different stadium.