Soft Skills

11 minute read

Sales Careers: How Training, Methods, and Software are Changing

Claudia Buckley

Claudia Buckley

Sales, the heartbeat of every business, is undergoing dramatic transformation as businesses adapt to evolving technologies and changing consumer behaviors. From the rise of CRM software and data-driven insights to the proliferation of virtual selling, the landscape of sales is rapidly changing. This shift is reshaping sales careers, training, methods, and software, offering unprecedented opportunities and challenges for both businesses and sales professionals.

Whether you're a seasoned sales professional looking to stay ahead of the curve, a newcomer looking to launch a sales career, or a business exploring new sales strategies, this comprehensive guide will help you navigate the future of sales. But to thrive in this dynamic field, a solid foundation in sales is a must. Introductory sales training with accomplished business coach, David Brownlee, is available on a free 7-day trial of GoSkills Unlimited.

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The future of sales careers: new roles

The future of sales careers will be significantly influenced by automation, specialization, and evolving consumer expectations.

Automation and AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are playing an increasingly significant role in sales. Routine tasks such as prospecting, data entry, and scheduling are becoming automated, allowing sales professionals to focus on more complex tasks such as strategic planning and relationship building. However, the rise of AI also means sales professionals must be tech-savvy and adaptable to new tools.

Specialization

As the sales landscape becomes increasingly complex, sales roles are becoming more specialized. Sales professionals can no longer be generalists; they need to specialize in specific areas such as technology sales, pharmaceutical sales, or enterprise sales. This trend requires sales professionals to have in-depth knowledge of their industry, product, and customers.

Changing consumer expectations

As consumers become more informed and demanding, the role of sales professionals is evolving from a transactional function to a consultative one. The reach and influence of social media means that the customer has tremendous power, even after the sale is completed. Sales professionals must be able to understand and anticipate customer needs, provide personalized solutions, and build long-term relationships.

Tech-savvy customer


The future of sales training: new skills

The days of the slick, fast-talking car salesman are long gone. Since customers are now far more sophisticated, they quickly see through shallow, insincere sales tactics. Now more than ever, salespeople need to do more than sweet-talk or trick their prospects into spending.

Sales training is no longer just about mastering sales techniques. In the future, sales training will focus more on soft skills, data literacy, and continuous learning.

Soft skills

As sales roles become more consultative, soft skills such as communication, emotional intelligence, problem-solving, and adaptability are becoming increasingly important. Sales professionals must be able to build relationships, navigate complex sales cycles, and adapt to changing circumstances. Sales professionals with top-notch soft skills will have a distinct advantage over those without.

Data literacy

In the era of data-driven sales, sales professionals need to be data-literate. They need to understand how to interpret data, make data-driven decisions, and use data to inform their sales strategies. Fortunately, getting up to speed in this area is easier than you might think. All you need to do is start by gaining a working knowledge of a tool like Microsoft Excel, and then zero in on features like charts and pivot tables to help you make sense of large sets of data.

Continuous learning

Given the rapid pace of change in sales, continuous learning is crucial. Sales professionals must be committed to regularly updating their knowledge and skills. This includes learning new technologies, keeping up with industry trends, and understanding changing customer behaviors.

Also, new research on sales training effectiveness by Joon-Hee Oh and Wesley J. Johnston introduces an evaluation metric for measuring the effectiveness of sales training. The metric, which considers talent construction and selective learning, aims to help companies evaluate their sales training strategies and increase training effectiveness. This approach highlights the importance of considering the talent of salespeople and providing tailored learning experiences in sales training.

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The future of sales methods: the sales rundown

In the rapidly changing sales landscape, new methods are constantly emerging. However, some strategies, like understanding the sales rundown, remain timeless. 

A rundown in sales is a tool to organize data about a specific lead or client. It can include essential contact details, notes on previous interactions, and the client's position in the sales funnel. This information can help sales professionals prepare for calls and meetings, identify the most promising leads, and keep track of their sales process.

Rundowns can also help businesses stay organized and ensure that no task or information is missed. They can serve as a guide for customers and help them recall and consider the options presented to them.

Creating a rundown can be as simple as using a spreadsheet or a database, or as complex as utilizing a CRM program. The key is to create a rundown that is highly organized, easy to read, and contains all the information needed to make informed decisions about leads.

Salesperson viewing a sales rundown


The future of sales software: CRM programs for rundowns

As businesses become more data-driven, the role of sales software is becoming increasingly significant. CRM programs, in particular, are essential for creating and managing rundowns. Here are a few CRM programs that can help you create effective rundowns.

Hubspot

Hubspot is a comprehensive CRM platform that allows sales professionals to create, manage, and track rundowns. It offers features such as contact management, email tracking, and pipeline management, which can help sales professionals stay organized and informed. Additionally, Hubspot integration enables seamless connectivity with other tools and platforms, enhancing overall efficiency.

Zoho

Zoho is a versatile CRM software that offers various tools for creating and managing rundowns. It allows sales professionals to track leads, automate routine tasks, and generate detailed reports. Its intuitive interface and customization options make it a popular choice for sales teams.

Salesforce

Salesforce is a robust CRM software that provides a comprehensive suite of tools for sales professionals. Its advanced features, including lead management, sales forecasting, and customer segmentation, make it a powerful tool for creating and managing rundowns.

Man working from laptop


Sales professionals: 5 reasons LinkedIn paid ads can't replace them

This brings us to the next interesting point to discuss. People were so fearful that LinkedIn would replace the need for conventional sales teams. Well, this fear was overstated - and frankly, all we see today is that smart sales teams leverage LinkedIn to improve their job.

Let’s venture into why these fears were overblown and rebuild our confidence in highly qualified human sales teams. While LinkedIn paid ads are an effective tool for increasing brand visibility and reaching targeted audiences, they cannot replace the value of a skilled human sales professional. Here are five compelling reasons why:

1. Building personal relationships

Personal relationships are at the heart of effective selling, and no amount of technology can replace the human connection that sales professionals establish with their clients. Human sales professionals can understand and respond to the emotional needs of their clients, build trust, and provide personalized experiences. LinkedIn paid ads, on the other hand, are impersonal and lack the emotional depth that face-to-face interactions can offer.

2. Understanding and adapting to customer needs

Sales professionals excel in understanding and adapting to their customers' unique needs. They can ask probing questions, identify pain points, and tailor solutions accordingly. In contrast, LinkedIn paid ads are generic and unable to adapt to individual customer needs in real-time.

3. Navigating complex sales cycles

In industries with complex sales cycles, the human touch is indispensable. Sales professionals can navigate the complexities of such sales cycles, handle objections, and guide the customer toward a purchase decision. LinkedIn paid ads are more suited to straightforward sales cycles and may not be effective in industries where the sales process is more complex.

Real estate agent closing a deal

4. Leveraging non-verbal cues

Human sales professionals can pick up on non-verbal cues, such as tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions, which can provide valuable insights into a customer's thoughts and feelings. This ability helps sales professionals adjust their sales tactics and communication style accordingly. LinkedIn paid ads, being purely digital, lack the capability to interpret these non-verbal cues.

5. Offering post-sale support

After-sale support is a crucial aspect of sales, often leading to customer retention and loyalty. Human sales professionals can provide personalized post-sale support, address customer concerns, and ensure customer satisfaction. While LinkedIn paid ads can drive initial customer engagement, they cannot offer the same level of after-sales support.

So while LinkedIn paid ads can complement a sales strategy by expanding reach and generating leads, they cannot replace the value that human sales professionals bring to the table. The future of sales will likely involve a balanced integration of both human skills and digital tools.


The bottom line

Change is inevitable. With that, we don’t just mean that sales teams print fewer business cards and adopt LinkedIn to be more eco-friendly. There is a lot more: the future of sales is here, and it is transforming sales careers, training, methods, and software in ways we could not have imagined. To thrive in this new landscape, sales professionals must be adaptable, tech-savvy, data-literate, and committed to continuous learning. And businesses must be ready to embrace new sales strategies, leverage new technologies, and deliver personalized customer experiences.

But no matter how much the world of sales changes, some things will remain constant: the importance of building relationships, understanding customer needs, and providing value. So, whether you're just starting your sales journey or are a seasoned sales professional, remember to keep these timeless principles at the heart of your sales strategy.

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Claudia Buckley

Claudia Buckley

Claudia is a certified Microsoft Office Expert (Excel Specialist), project manager, and business skills instructor at GoSkills. She has spent over 20 years in employee professional development. Claudia has a Masters Degree in Business Administration and a Diploma in Educational Psychology. In her spare time, she reads mystery novels and is an amateur genealogist.