While sorcerers and clairvoyants may be fan fiction, understanding the future of our business – from sales to marketing to customer service – is no fairy tale. We all want to know how to plan for what’s ahead, and the way to reveal the sales world in 2017 and beyond is to tap in to the experts. As Koka Sexton shares in this post, “The early thought leaders in the space...paved the way for the future of sales.”

In a recent Series Pass webcast, sales experts Jill Rowley, Founder & Chief Evangelist of #SocialSelling; Keenan, CEO/President of A Sales Guy, Jamie Shanks, CEO, Sales for Life; Koka Sexton, Social Team, LinkedIn Corporate Communications; and Tim Clarke, Director Product Marketing at Salesforce; shared social selling best practices and strategies, as well as a look into the future (no crystal ball required).

We reached out to these modern sorcerers (and sorceress) to find out how they perceive the future of social selling. Here’s what their insights reveal.

1. Social fundamentals will remain the same, but the tools will drive innovation

“[The future of social selling], in my opinion, rests on what new tools or applications are developed. Social selling is driven and affected by the tool you're using. You social sell differently using Twitter, than you would using LinkedIn, than you would using Snapchat. I think the fundamentals of engagement, listening, sharing and putting the buyer first will only become more important. But HOW we do this will depend on new platforms and things that haven't even been created yet.”  - Keenan, CEO/President, A Sales Guy

2. Cross-team collaboration will result in ‘team revenue’

“[The future of social selling is] the emergence of ‘team revenue,’ in which social selling is merely a byproduct of sales and marketing integration. The future of social selling requires an infused partnership between these two departments. The digital marketing team creates, organizes, helps, distributes and evaluates the insights that Sales leverages to fuel social conversations.  These same digital marketers are integrated into this new ‘team revenue’ to the point of owning a portion of each sales professional’s quota attainment. Marketing measures the content consumption story of each new customer, and gathers trends for prescriptive improvements to help a sales professional approach customers with highly-targeted insights. Marketing can empirically prove a direct contribution to revenue through converting insights, and can highlight an indirect influence on all remaining sales.” - Jamie Shanks, CEO, Sales for Life

3. The hard work will be done upfront, and you’ll get executive sponsorship

“The end goal of investing in social selling is to move the pipeline, revenue, and customer advocacy needles by deepening relationships. The natural reaction is to buy the bright shiny object; not do the hard work of strategy, planning, goals, and tactics. It's all too easy to take a silo approach versus embedding social selling into existing processes, methodologies, systems, and metrics. Culture and executive buy-in/sponsorship are critical. Cross-functional collaboration is NOT OPTIONAL.” – Jill Rowley, Founder & Chief Evangelist, #SocialSelling

4. Social selling will increase across every industry

“The future of sales is a social one. Companies that don’t adopt social selling and that don’t find a way to put that social intelligence into their CRM will be at a huge disadvantage in the market. Executives need to start planning on how they are going to enable their sales teams with next generation tools that will make their sales teams more effective...Just as sales people are moving into the future, the buyers are already ahead of us. We are going to see the application of social selling increase across every industry.” - Koka Sexton, Social Team, LinkedIn Corporate Communications (Source)

5. The leaders will lead and drive adoption

“Social selling is going to be most successful in organizations where the executives lead by example, helping to drive adoption. Stephen Kelly, most active FTSE100 CEO on Twitter and Marc Benioff, most active Fortune 500 CEO on Twitter, are two great examples. Reverse mentoring is a great initiative I’ve seen at Sage, helping to ensure everyone can adapt to the benefits that social selling brings.” - Tim Clarke, Director Product Marketing, Salesforce

No matter which future-focused findings you follow, according to Sexton, “It’s not a matter of if, but when it’s going to touch your company.” Watch the replay now.