12 sales trends for 2013

cash register

Sue Barrett shares her research on the 12 sales trends that businesses should expect to see this year including thinking about corporate responsibility and looking after the customer experience.

The theme for my 12 Sales Trends for 2013 is ‘Up close and personal’, it’s about people – clients and suppliers connecting, collaborating and creating opportunities together.

This theme is born from the explosion of connection and collaboration options we now have available, especially in the palm of our hands, and the need for people to really connect, collaborate, and do business with other people beyond mere transactions. I’ve identified the 12 Sales Trends for 2013 to help guide businesses through the major transitions in how we sell and buy. Some of the trends are closely aligned and extensions of each other while others are distinctive enough to stand on their own. Together they foretell major changes in the way we sell, buy and do business.

Today’s business and sales leaders will need to rethink their sales optimisation strategies if they are to thrive in the ever changing political, business, community and environmental landscapes.

The following is a sneak peak of 6 of the 12 sales trends. We will share the other six on our next post.

 Trend Number 1: Corporate social responsibility at the sales coal face – no more only ‘what’s in it for me’

Way back in 1953 Peter Drucker stated in his book The Age of Discontinuity, “The purpose of business is not to make profit but to satisfy the needs of customers. The consequence of satisfying these needs is incremental profit…”
One of the leading sales trends for 2013 is the shift away from the generally accepted corporate view that everything is about money and profits with a greater emphasis being placed on corporate social responsibility (CSR), especially at the sales/buyer coal face.
Organisations, by the means of how their products are used and produced and how their services are delivered are in a position to wilfully become more sustainable. Leading by example and helping their suppliers and customers become more sustainable in turn by using their products or services.

What does this really mean for business? Case studies tell us this is not only the “right thing to do” it’s all also good for business results.

Trend Number 2: customer experience management (CX) will replace CRMs

CRMs got the management part right, but they missed the plot in relationships. More products and services are becoming commoditised and satisfying customers is not enough. Companies now need to do more than manage the relationship; they need to understand their customers’ total experience with the organisation. What is it like to be your customer?
In 2013, customer relationship management systems are going to be replaced with more effective and agile customer experience management (CX) systems. CX is more sales friendly, and salespeople are more likely to use it thus becoming more productive and achieving better sales results.

Trend Number 3: customers control the buying process

Customers aren’t waiting for salespeople to call on them. More and more salespeople are finding that buyers are putting up barriers because they are doing the pre-purchase work themselves. And one cannot blame them. Most salespeople do little more than regurgitate the company’s story. Instead of fighting the inevitable shift, organisations should be looking at how they can change, before they lose even more control. Buyers today put more importance on the genuine interest salespeople show when they explain how customers can extract value from a purchase than an explanation of how to make a purchase. These days, selling is about the journey rather than merely the purchase.

Trend Number 4: salespeople become financial managers

It’s a reality that in today’s economic climate companies are devoting considerable attention to cost cutting. However, by comparison, sales organisations are spending very little time and effort improving pricing and margin management practices. The real danger isn’t in the possibility of cutting costs. The danger for companies are those salespeople who fail to understand the difference between cost and value or who are unable to articulate an effective value proposition. In today’s high pressure sales environment the impact of cost cutting, price and margin management tend to be ignored. In 2013 salespeople are going to have to learn how to respond in order to protect already hard pressed margins. In fact, the 2013 salesperson is more likely to be a business executive who can sell, than a salesperson who understands business. And along with that business acumen comes an innate understanding of finance and the impact of discounting, pricing and margin management.

Trend Number 5: going mobile – the rise of smartphones in Sales

As Australia deals with the challenge of becoming more globally competitive, organisations are going to make greater use of both increased mobility as well as tele-conferencing using smartphone technology. Anecdotal research is showing that smartphones are giving salespeople an edge in a number of ways and circumventing clunky CRMs. Pretty soon everything will be in the palm of our hands, if it isn’t already. Integration will be the key: those organisations that allow their salespeople to access real time data and connect with their clients via mobile technology will be giving their sales teams a distinct advantage. The technology is not so new but how people and organisations harness its power in the coming years will break new ground.

You can buy the detailed report of the 12 Sales Trends for 2013 now to see which trends will have the greatest impact on your sales efforts in 2013.

You can also get free downloads of the detailed Sales Trends Reports for 2012, 2011 and 2010 here.