Wondering what’s in store for sales in 2024? We’ve got you covered.
In our latest Behind The Hub we had the pleasure of chatting with sales expert, Dan Tyre. With an impressive 17-year tenure at HubSpot and a noteworthy history as a five-time entrepreneur spanning five startups over the past five decades, who better to provide insights into the sales trends shaping the future?
Keep reading to discover the top 10 trends he’s anticipating, ranging from the expected influence of artificial intelligence (AI) to the often-overlooked importance of interpersonal skills.
1. Embrace the power of AI
It wouldn’t be right for us to talk about the sales landscape without talking about the elephant in the room. AI has woven itself into the fabric of the sales process with tools like ChatSpot.ai that simplify tasks.
As we step into 2024, the message is clear: sales professionals must wholeheartedly embrace these tools or they’ll be a step behind the rest. Those who want to stay ahead should at least be using AI tools to automate routine tasks so they can free up precious time for higher-value, more strategic sales interactions.
But convincing sales folks to jump on the AI bandwagon is a culture shift that won’t be easy!
2. Master the art of ‘smarketing’
Sales and marketing alignment, traditionally termed ‘smarketing’, is crucial. Yes, this is easier said than done. But forging a close partnership with your marketing team will directly benefit you as a salesperson.
Why? Because it’ll help you understand the customer journey better, leverage data on prospect interactions, and align your efforts with marketing strategies. The goal is to craft an experience that's not just seamless with your brand but also deeply personalised.
3. Prioritise storytelling
Sales is no longer just about pushing products; it's about creating genuine value for customers.
But how? Create stories that showcase how your offering can impact the customer's business or personal life. This shift towards customer-centric storytelling will resonate more deeply.
Let's talk about the tools you’ll need to do this: AI (again). It's not just good for automation; it will also help you understand an individual’s needs with precision so you can target specific pain points in a convincing story!
4. Shift in buyer-seller dynamics
We’re now seeing a shift from the ‘buyer beware’ mindset into a ‘seller beware’ mindset. This means sales professionals now bear the responsibility of ensuring a good fit and delivering value. Taking the time to understand your potential customers, their pain points, and their long-term goals is going to be pivotal. You’ll need to be proactive in addressing concerns and providing solutions that align with their needs.
This approach not only builds trust but also positions you as a strategic partner rather than just a salesperson.
5. Be human
Never forget the human touch. It's the essence of connection and community, a principle HubSpot has championed for years.
A shining example is the HubSpot Academy, a testament to their human-centric approach. Offering free courses, the Academy acts as a guide for professionals, delivering information in bite-sized, human-friendly pieces through instructor-led videos.
Let’s take it back to AI. If you’re introducing AI into sales strategies then authenticity is your secret sauce; any forced or insincere moves are a big no. Treat individuals with respect and put assistance before pitching — just like HubSpot.
6. Hone interpersonal skills
Honing your interpersonal skills extends beyond the generic 'be human' advice from point 5; it's a nuanced strategy. With most businesses embracing remote work for the long term, and virtual events becoming the norm, the emphasis on mastering digital interpersonal skills is key.
Sure, we've been navigating this landscape for a while now, but merely following the crowd won't cut it. You need to invest in refining your virtual communication skills, including video conferencing, email communication, and virtual presentations.
Building connections in a virtual setting requires a different set of skills, and those who adapt will have a competitive edge.
7. Step up your forecasting
Ah, forecasting — the bread and butter of sales. But, predicting the twists and turns of deal progression is like walking through a complex maze, leaving many businesses stumbling along the way. You'd think with all the emphasis leaders put on forecasting, we'd have nailed it by now, right? Enter AI, again (notice a theme here?).
AI can analyse your pipelines based on specific criteria so your forecasting accuracy becomes next level and essentially removes bad habits like ‘sandbagging’ — you know, the art of projecting lower to shine even brighter when you inevitably overachieve.
When you're dealing with the unpredictability of sales, sometimes you need a bit of AI magic to keep things in check.
You might also be interested in:
- Revenue Forecasting: The Perils, Pitfalls, and Solutions
- 5 Use-Cases for HubSpot’s Multi-Touch Revenue Attribution Reporting
8. Honesty is the best policy
Connection is all about honesty — no smoke, no mirrors.
Embrace transparency and proudly share the effort you've put into researching the person you're chatting with. It's more than just a sales pitch; it's about shining a spotlight on the individual, acknowledging their unique needs, and ensuring their story takes centre stage.
Why? Because, at the end of the day, people buy from people, and that won’t ever change.
9. Tailor everything and anything
Effective communication requires tailoring. Forget the one-size-fits-all approach; it just won't cut it! And here's where our trusty AI comes into play, armed with its ability to convey messages according to the recipient's communication style.
Think of it like the DISC profiles. Everyone has their preferred way of being addressed, whether it's with detailed facts, a touch of friendly banter, or a brisk, no-nonsense approach. Understanding these communication styles and adjusting your approach accordingly is what will be successful.
10. The riches are in the niches
Forget being a jack of all trades; in 2024, it's all about specialising. This one isn’t specifically for the sales team, rather for the business as a whole!
Essentially, companies can gain more by specialising in a particular vertical rather than being generalists. The idea is simple: you’ll have a deeper understanding of a specific industry, like Higher Education, which then allows for better connections with clients, shared vocabulary, and quicker time-to-value.
This approach aligns with the buyer behaviour trends we mentioned earlier. Prospects want more value, and as a specialist, you've got it covered!
So what did we learn from Dan? We learned it's not just about embracing new technology or strategies; it's about finding the balance between innovation and the power of authentic, human connection. The future of sales lies not in one aspect alone but in the blend of technology and building meaningful relationships.