Tuesday, May 28, 2024

An experienced B2B leader eyes 20/20 predictions for 2020 sales

For 2020, most companies have their eye on sales. After all, this is the time that businesses and salespeople alike evaluate the past year and look ahead to the next, anticipating industry changes, determining where they can improve, and understanding how they need to evolve to continue meeting the needs of customers.
While none of us have a clear-eyed view of the future, below are my best predictions for sales in 2020 and how they may impact you and your organization:
Relationships and trust come back into focus

It’s important to reflect on the history of sales when considering the industry’s future.

Before The Great Depression, people bought based on relationships – if I knew you, you could count on me for a sale, regardless of the product or price you were selling. This evolved into buying on trust and your reputation for selling a solid product.

Finally, pricing won out against all other factors; if you were selling it the cheapest, I was buying.

As we move into 2020, the pendulum will swing back to a focus on salespeople, making relationships and trust the key assets of selling.

Gone are the days of the sleazy salesperson and the bait-and-switch. Buyers want to feel comfortable with the salespeople they are buying from, and are willing to spend more money with the people they trust.

Technology won’t replace human connection

The market is seeing an influx of new technologies that can help salespeople increase their  efficiency and effectiveness.

As companies evaluate the products they want to leverage to help the sales process, it’s important that they don’t lose sight of one of the most impactful tools in a salesperson’s arsenal: cold calling.

With so many inbound marketing tools, cold calling may be considered a lost art to many. The reality is, with all of the new ways to target customers, from emails to texts to social media retargeting, prospects can easily feel inundated.

Platform marketing and inbound marketing tools will never replace the rapport that is built through picking up the phone and starting a personalized and authentic conversation. Nothing in 2020, or in the distant future, will replace a real, human connection with another person.

Increased focus on automation that matters

The above is not to say that technology can’t be helpful. There are certainly aspects of the sales funnel that can truly benefit from automation tools. More sales reps will be encouraging companies to invest in time-saving tools that can assist with the prep work needed behind the scenes and allow salespeople to focus on the relationship building and prospect outreach that is required.

More people will choose sales as a profession

Whenever I’m speaking to a group of salespeople, I always ask if anyone in the audience dreamed of being in sales – and no one does.

But the tides are turning, and we’re starting to see more people choose sales as a degree or career path. Statistics from the Sales Education Foundation show that the number of colleges and universities with sales programs is increasing rapidly. In 2007, only 27 colleges and universities had top sales programs, all located in the U.S. By 2017, the number of top sales programs increased to 136, with 17 international programs.

Additionally, buyers are more knowledgeable and savvy, meaning that old stereotype of the sleazy salesperson will (thankfully!) be pushed out. More people are choosing sales as a career today to make an impact, and help instead of sell and only make money. We’ll see more of this trend in 2020 and beyond.

In my 25+ years working in sales, I’ve seen trends come and go. But, cultivating and maintaining relationships with customers is a mainstay that will continue long past 2020. Do I have 20/20 vision? No. But hopefully, these predictions will help you define a clear path for success in 2020.


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Tara Bryant
Tara Bryant
Tara Bryant is Senior Vice President of Global Sales at Pipedrive. She brings more than 20 years of sales experience to Pipedrive, where she is responsible for driving the company’s sales functions and revenue, managing strategic partnerships, and overseeing the global sales team. Prior to Pipedrive, Tara held executive roles at Aurea Software, YouEarnedIt, and Bigcommerce.