It’s January 6. Do you know what that means? It’s the second day of the first full week of 2015. Yesterday, you were most likely scrambling to answer all those emails you missed over vacation, rushing to meetings about your sales pipeline, and scrambling to write down your new sales goals.

However, did you ever just take a moment to stop and reflect on the year behind you, on the year ahead of you, and on your impact as a sales leader?

We asked 5 B2B sales thought leaders to take a step back and analyze last year in terms of sales trends and this year in terms of sales predictions. Specifically, we asked them this question:

What were the major trends in B2B inside sales in 2014, and how do these trends influence your predictions for 2015?

Today, we invite you to read their insights so you can better prepare for your year in sales. Also, stay tuned for next Tuesday, when we’ll be sharing the marketing edition of this post.

Matt Bertuzzi

inside sales tools

2014 felt like the year of the sales tool. There are technologies that sit at seemingly every stage of selling. I, for one, have a hard time keeping up.

Looking to 2015, I’m hoping for two things. 1) B2B inside sales leaders will double down on tools that work and fold on those that don’t. It’s time to add a spoonful of measurement to the ‘see, buy, deploy’ cycle. 2) Our process should drive the tools reps use – not the other way around. If the way you do things is technology-driven – or because ‘it is trackable/reportable/etc.’ – something is off. Step back and make sure your tools are accelerating, not altering, the way you want to sell.

Here’s a 2×2 matrix to help you along the way. Good selling in 2015!

Howard Brown

I’ve seen companies wake up to the fact that data is the key to prioritization and profiling, especially when it comes to outbound sales prospecting. In 2015, we’re going to see more sales teams accelerate away from their competition by applying data science and prediction engines rather than simply relying on their gut

Kyle Porter

Sales development emerged strongly this year as a vital piece of the revenue generating organization. In fact, the rise of sales development represents the sales process improvement in the last decade. Companies will continue to specialize their sales forces and reap the rewards of a team totally focused on converting prospects (inbound or outbound) into qualified appointments and demos.

Lori Richardson

We’ve been noticing more and more stress around which tools will ultimately help a sales team sell more, sell better, or sell faster. These sales enablement technologies all sound great, but they need to really be “prescribed” based on what other technology is in place, who will manage it, and how they can work together with what is in place already. It has caused a lot of heartburn for sales leaders and company executives. I believe we’ll see more integration of tools in 2015 as well as a bigger handful that get broader support so leaders can focus on sales enablement success.

Craig Rosenberg

The biggest trend we are seeing is the rise of target account marketing/selling. Some people call this ABM, some people call it outbound. The idea here is we are coming off years of giddiness around inbound marketing and digital demand generation. Don’t get me wrong, this is one of the best movements of our time and will continue as a critical organizational function. However, with this model, demand translates to “people you get,” not always “people you want.” Many organizations have focused their targets to the people they want based on factors such as company size (enterprise) or vertical. They can’t wait for them to read your blog post and download your latest whitepaper. That is target account marketing/selling and it is HOT right now. An example of this trend that been the meteoric rise in outbound sales development teams over the last year.

What does that mean? Marketing and sales have to develop a top of the funnel to close strategy to capture these targets. Outbound will be a critical component for both marketing and sales but it won’t be all. There has to be a cadence of touches from a variety of channels to these targets including calls, emails, events, social, direct mail, etc to be successful.

Hopefully these bite-size insights from reputable inside sales and sales development leaders will help you create a gargantuan-size plan for sales success in 2015. Share your own trends and predictions below and don’t forget to join our sales and marketing community by signing up for our email subscription.