Sales Trends
Another year has flown by and with 2016 quickly approaching, sales professionals need to take time to seriously consider what the New Year will bring and how it will affect their work and sales targets.

To assist sales professionals in preparing for the New Year, we’ve leaned upon the expertise of some of today’s most influential and respected sales leaders for their predictions in 2016. In the following article, you’ll hear directly from the CEOs of sales companies, global sales executives, keynote speakers, sales strategists, and best-selling sales authors.

What Sales Trends and Challenges Can We Expect in 2016?

We spoke to 12 sales leaders about the following three areas:

  1. 2016 will be the year of…
  2. The sales trends they predict will emerge in 2016
  3. The biggest challenges that sales professionals will face

Their responses are in this article below, as well as in the Slideshare at the end of the article.

If you have any comments or predictions of your own to make, please share by leaving a comment below the article – Best of luck in 2016!

1. Kyle Porter

Kyle Porter
Kyle Porter is the CEO of SalesLoft – Sales Development Prospecting & Automation.

2016 will be the year of… the account based sales development process.

What sales trends do you predict will emerge in 2016?
The concept of “logo-based territories” has been around for a while in sales. What hasn’t been there is account based distribution down to the sales development rep role. The “account based” approach allows companies the best shot at landing their most important prospects. Prospectors, inside sales reps, AEs, and top of the funnel demand gen professionals will focus on a set of very relevant and highly targeted accounts they want to add as customers, and all of their efforts will be focused on converting them from contact information into paying customer.

What are the biggest challenges that sales professionals will face in 2016?
The biggest challenge sales will face in 2016 is the temptation for automation. With all the data, email, and phone sales tools out there, sales people will struggle to find the balance between sincerity and scale. What’s important is that they focus on the efficiency of their prospecting. This means they need to maximize the percentage of accounts they convert into appointments over the accounts they try to convert. This way they aren’t leaving a brand scorched earth behind, they’re not eating up prospects that other reps could sincerely approach, and they’re able to get the prospects they want to join their customer base.

2. Jill Konrath

Jill Konrath
Jill Konrath is the bestselling author of Agile Selling, SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies.

2016 will be the year of… Sales Overwhelm.

What sales trends do you predict will emerge in 2016?
Learning agility will emerge as a critical skill necessary for both sales leaders and salespeople. Companies will focus on how to hire for this capability as well as how to develop it with their existing reps.

What are the biggest challenges that sales professionals will face in 2016?
Sales professionals will continue to struggle trying to keep up with increasingly complex decisions, the demand to “know more,” and new technologies. All this, combined with an endless flow of information and distractions, will decrease their productivity — when their entire organization is focused on increasing it.

3. David Meerman Scott

David Meerman Scott
David Meerman Scott is a Sales & Marketing Strategist and bestselling author of ten books including The New Rules of Sales and Service.

2016 will be the year of… Newsjacking.

What sales trends do you predict will emerge in 2016?
After growing interest for five years, 2016 is the year Newsjacking goes mainstream. For those who don’t yet use the strategy, Newsjacking is the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story to generate tons of media coverage, get sales leads, and grow business.

What are the biggest challenges that sales professionals will face in 2016?
Educating and informing rather than interrupting and selling.

4. Dan McDade

Dan McDade
Dan McDade is the President/CEO of PointClear, LLC and author of The Truth About Leads. Named one of the 50 most influential people in sales lead management for the last five consecutive years (Sales Lead Management Association)

2016 will be the year of… lead quality over lead quantity.

What sales trends do you predict will emerge in 2016?
The workload will shift from the field to more inside sales (or tele-prospecting) and the burden of customer relationship management will begin a shift from sales to marketing. Specifically, more companies will adopt account-based marketing approaches – and the ones that look beyond the IP-based, cookie-based approaches will be the big winners.

What are the biggest challenges that sales professionals will face in 2016?
Sales professionals do not know how to engage highly qualified leads from marketing because for the most part they have not gotten very many of them. As quality improves (while quantity declines), sales will struggle to approach each prospect as a market of one. Rather they will be in selling mode rather than listening mode early on and lose to a more consultative, insights based, approach.

5. Nancy Bleeke

Nancy Bleeke
President of Sales Pro Insider, Inc. Nancy Bleeke works with companies to pinpoint barriers to sales growth, prioritize the actions to increase sales, and implement tools and training to ramp up performance.

2016 will be the year of… Streamlining.

What sales trends do you predict will emerge in 2016?
Streamlining will be a growing trend in 2016. Smart company leaders will look for ways to remove the processes, technology, and fluff that keep their company from growing. Technology continues to push metrics-based management in large teams. Smaller companies continue to challenge the “big boys” with their focus on service, relationships, and making sales through relevant conversations.

What are the biggest challenges that sales professionals will face in 2016?
The biggest challenges for sellers is staying relevant to meet buyers where they are at in THEIR buying process to give them what they need during the sales process so they can make a decision efficiently. The biggest challenge is aligning their efforts in their sales activities to make their company happy, their buyers happy, and not lose themselves along the way.

6. Matt Heinz

Matt Heinz
Matt Heinz is the President of Heinz Marketing Inc – Sales acceleration, demand generation, pipeline management.

2016 will be the year of… more B2B marketers than ever embracing revenue responsibility.

What sales trends do you predict will emerge in 2016?
1. Wider adoption of sales automation tools such as SalesLoft, Tellwise and Tout.
2. Greater connection between buyer pain/needs and sales process/messaging.
3. A focus on improving sales productivity and active selling time.

What are the biggest challenges that sales professionals will face in 2016?
All of the above! These are somewhat optimistic predictions based on where I hope more sales organization focus and direct themselves to improve their results, efficiency, velocity and customer/prospect resonance.

7. Trish Bertuzzi

Trish Bertuzzi
Over the last two decades, Trish Bertuzzi has promoted inside sales as a community, profession, and engine for revenue growth. In the process, The Bridge Group has worked with over 200 B2B technology clients to build, expand, and optimize their inside sales efforts.

What sales trends do you predict will emerge in 2016?
2016 is the year we modify our sales process to truly reflect how our buyers want to buy. Every interaction with them will be well thought out and deliver value. No more making them “earn” the right to information. We will put it at their fingertips.

8. Andy MacMillan

Andy MacMillan
Andy MacMillan is Chief Executive Officer of Act-On and oversees the strategic direction of the company. Prior to joining Act-On, Andy held several senior leadership positions at Salesforce, including Chief Operating Officer of the Products Division and Senior Vice President & General Manager of Data.com.

2016 will be the year… we automate all of marketing, not just demand generation, to truly engage our customers.

What sales trends do you predict will emerge in 2016?
Post Sales is the New Sales as more and more revenue moves to the renewal ledger in the subscription economy. As a result, marketers need to be lifecycle oriented and look to automate their customer engagement strategy. Marketing will expand from predominantly acquisition marketing to retention, expansion and advocacy, and we will see the role of CRM and the marketer evolve into the new stewards of the customer relationship.

What are the biggest challenges that sales professionals will face in 2016?
As the demand for a richer, more personalized and connected user experience grows, the role of the sales professional will need to evolve with it. To do this, sales will need to turn to marketing automation technology to compliment the manual engagement typically facilitated by CRM technology. The sales professional must work hand-in-hand with the buyer, leveraging the latest in technology to delight the customer and deliver the expected outcome.

9. Jason Jordan

Jason Jordan
Jason Jordan is a partner of Vantage Point and author of the best-seller Cracking the Sales Management Code. He is a recognized thought leader in the domain of B2B sales, and his research has been published by Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Sales & Marketing Management, and other leading publications.

2016 will be the year of… the Sales Manager.

What sales trends do you predict will emerge in 2016?
I expect to see even more attention paid to front-line sales management in 2016. Sales managers are at the nexus of a lot of stuff sales executives need, like accurate forecasts, healthy sales pipelines, timely reporting, and effective coaching. Training dollars and accountability will migrate from the sellers to their managers, and improved performance will soon follow.

What are the biggest challenges that sales professionals will face in 2016?
The biggest challenge in 2016 will be the same as 2015… Staying focused on consistent execution. Social media, mobile technology, and other ‘innovations’ create distractions that pull the sales force off its fundamental tasks. Get back to the basics… Managers, coach your sellers. Sellers, create value for your customers. Anything that doesn’t support those two objectives is a waste of time and resources.

10. Colleen Stanley

Colleen Stanley
Colleen Stanley is president of SalesLeadership, Inc., a leading sales consulting firm that specializes in emotional intelligence and consultative sales skills training.

2016 will be the year of… truth telling and prosperity.

What sales trends do you predict will emerge in 2016?
The “Amazon” effect will continue to force sales organizations to get clear on their differentiators, add more value to the customer experience or resign themselves to be replaced by a drone.

What are the biggest challenges that sales professionals will face in 2016?
Overcoming the biggest competitor, status quo, with prospects and customers that are overwhelmed with information and work. And one more tweet or email isn’t going to win that piece of business.

11. Chris Ashley

Chris Ashley
Chris Ashley – Director of Sales – Kissmetrics, Customer Intelligence & Web Analytics

2016 will be the year of… stronger alignment between Marketing and Sales teams.

What sales trends do you predict will emerge in 2016?
Marketings’ share of the customer’s journey will grow throughout 2016 as prospects rely more heavily on self-education through webinars, static demos, and online content. Sales and Marketing will need to work together to build processes that are effective in identifying and actively engaging prospects at each stage of the sales cycle. Sales teams will struggle if they have to go at it alone.

What are the biggest challenges that sales professionals will face in 2016?
We live in a world where consumers would rather conduct their own research online than pick up a phone and have a conversation with a Sales representative. Sales professionals that previously relied on building initial rapport over the phone will need to adapt and learn how to utilize current technologies to open those same doors.

12. Lori Richardson

Lori Richardson
Lori Richardson – Sales Strategist, CEO, Score More Sales and President, Women Sales Pros. Lori and her Score More Sales team help midsize companies with sales leads and sales leadership – two critical areas that often need attention.

2016 will be the year of… Sales Tool Collaboration & Convergence for a Greater Cause – Productivity.

What sales trends do you predict will emerge in 2016?
It didn’t happen in 2015 but I predict we’ll see one or more companies with more complete technology solutions to help B2B sellers and marketers cohesively. Currently there is so much noise about the many thousands of options in a sales technology stack, and many issues making multiple tools work smoothly together. Sales leadership will demand better solutions to connect with buyers and improve the sales experience.

What are the biggest challenges that sales professionals will face in 2016?
In an ever expanding noisy world it’s about keeping focus on what is important and maximizing the finite hours they have to get things done.

Slideshare

You can also view (or download) all the sales experts’ predictions in the following Slideshare:

 

Join the Discussion:

Thank you to all the sales experts who shared their predictions.

If you have your own thoughts for sales trends and challenges in 2016, or you would like to comment on the above sales experts’ predictions, be sure to leave a comment below.