Buyers today are informed, digitally savvy and squarely in the driver’s seat in terms of how and when they want to talk to sales. As we illustrated in The Death of the Sales Funnel Infographic, the game has changed. If sellers want to remain in the running, they need to adjust their approach to the new customer-driven rules of engagement.

The reality is that sales people will have less time with customers, and in turn, will need to maximize quality sales engagements. According to Forrester Research, one million sales jobs will be obsolete by 2020. Forrester indicates that the only expanding sales role is the “Sales Consultant”— those that are most capable of relationship and solution selling—integrating themselves most effectively into the buyer’s business and helping with problem solving. But it’s not just the old tried and true solution seller we are talking about—this is a new breed of digitally savvy sellers who can tap into the pulse of how and where their customers want to engage. Organizations need to begin evaluating their sales teams now to identify who has the skills today and ultimately who is capable of this change.

Here are a few sales characteristics that will be necessary for this new sales role:

  • Embraces social selling
  • Aligns sales approach to the buyer journey
  • Leverages content marketing
  • Welcomes technology
  • Relies on data analytics

In a recent Forrester Research report, “A Guide to Hiring More Effective Sales People,” Mary Shea outlines actions organizations must take to select their ideal sellers. Once organizations identify the sales reps that possess these capabilities, they will then need to revise their sales enablement strategy and implement changes to make this transition.

As organizations look toward the future, they will need to consider:

  • Investments in sales technology and platforms: Prioritize sales enablement technology and build a robust and scalable infrastructure to optimize operations.
  • Embedding marketing into their sales strategy: Partner with marketing to align the right content to the right customer at the right time within their buyer journey.
  • Utilizing insights to drive changes: Define KPIs and success measurements, analyze data and measure actual results to understand impact.
  • Providing training and development: Focus on helping salespeople create value in customer engagements, transitioning to micro-marketers and utilizing social selling within the customer lifecycle.

The shift isn’t about to happen—it’s already happened. Successful sales organizations have already started to take stock and ensure they have digitally savvy frontline sellers who can keep up with today’s digitally savvy and informed buyers. Organizations that fail to see this will find themselves stuck selling like its 2012.

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