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3 Mega Trends that Have Transformed What Makes Salespeople Successful

Salespeople are the heartbeat of an organization. Learn three megatrends that have changed the way we define the success of a sales function.

It has been said that salespeople are the greatest single engine of the global economy. Nearly every organization has some form of salespeople who play a vital role in bridging the gap between customer needs and the products or services offered by the organization.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.3% of the population are in ‘sales’. And it is this population who are vital in generating customer loyalty, retention, and of course, customer spending. The criticality of the sales function to an organization cannot be downplayed and the success or failure of sales has an amplifying effect on an organization’s future. The business case for finding, developing, and nurturing great salespeople speaks for itself.

Yet the question of what constitutes ‘great’ salespeople and how they are different from average or poor salespeople is a far more contested and ill-defined topic. And in an ever-changing and evolving market, the sales context can create more ambiguity still.

McKinsey believes that B2B sales, in particular, are pivoting through a revolution, driven by several contextual factors. SHL took this one step further and conducted a global study of more than 14,000 sales professionals to determine what factors predict sales success and job performance in today’s world. And the findings were both fascinating and yet reassuringly intuitive.

The criticality of the sales function to an organization cannot be downplayed and the success or failure of sales has an amplifying effect on an organization’s future.

The trends that reshaped the way we define sales success

The study revealed three mega-trends that shape the way we buy, sell, and digitally interact today:

  1. The external environment has changed
    Certainly accelerated by the global pandemic, a trend for many years has been one toward commercial analytics and technology adoption. B2B sales have moved from an art form to a science, underpinned by data and advanced analytics. What is more, there is a continuing trust and comfort in making large buying decisions remotely and online. The implications here are that top-performing salespeople need to be both tech-savvy and demonstrate success in selling through remote channels.

  2. Customer behavior has changed
    In a world where we are inundated with information and overwhelmed by choice, buyers today are looking for sellers to distill and simplify this information overload to provide clarity for decision-making. And more than this, buyers are looking beyond a simple transaction, to a whole buying experience. In fact, in 2022 customer experience is a higher priority than price point, with 86% of customers willing to pay more for a great experience! And according to Forbes, 98% of marketers say personalization advances customer relationships. It appears that simple, experience-driven and personalized interactions are what buyers are looking for from sales professionals.

  3. The fundamental requirements for sales success have evolved
    SHL research has found that the story around the behavioral factors predicting sales success has evolved over recent years. Whilst some of the traditional and commonly cited factors associated with sales drive, achievement orientation, and sales focus remain critical; there are additional behaviors that are important in predicting sales performance today. These factors are associated with the ability to adapt to a radically changing industry and remain resilient under increased sales pressures.

These three mega-trends appear to be persistent and global. And they provide the framework for creating and developing a future-ready salesforce against the complex backdrop in which sales functions must operate today. By taking control of people strategy when it comes to the sales function, successful organizations are transforming their talent into future-ready sellers. SHL’s Sales Transformation model identifies those salespeople with the behaviors needed to succeed and grow businesses.

Register for our webinar and learn how we can help you make accurate and objective talent management decisions!

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Lucy Beaumont

Lucy Beaumont is a Talent Management Solution Owner and Chartered Occupational Psychologist. Her expertise spans more than ten years of experience in the design, deployment, and management of leadership talent. Her passion and focus are on creating a level playing field for all employees and unlocking the potential that can be hidden through individual, organizational, and societal barriers.

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