Tens of thousands of people descended on 2019’s Sales Innovation Expo, the leading sales event in Europe last month. The expo brings together sales professionals from all over the world every year to discuss the latest trends and technologies in sales – and our team at Salesforce were no exception.
Our experts ran a series of masterclasses on the future of B2B sales and how technology is helping us get there.
Here are some takeaways that we think will have a lasting impact on sales teams everywhere in the next few years.
The pace of sales is increasing – but the amount of time sales people spend manually entering data into CRM, sending emails or getting approvals from other parts of the business hasn’t. In her masterclass on CRM, Cassie Hatfield drew attention to the fact that sales people in the UK spend on average only 35% of their time actually selling.
But how do you automate those necessary but high-volume and repetitive tasks that take up so much selling time? Sales teams are turning to smart CRM systems to handle their admin and free up their schedule.
So what’s smart about a smart CRM? Traditional CRMs are just one point of data capture.
Smart CRMs combine marketing automation, productivity and collaboration tools, next-gen pricing and quoting, and the latest analytics and AI in one shiny sell-faster package.
Speaking of AI, it was the word on everybody’s lips – and not without some trepidation. But AI isn’t coming to take sales jobs away, it’s actually creating more jobs.
Hannah Kundra explained how by taking over manual and tedious tasks and giving salespeople a better understanding of their customers’ needs, AI is ultimately helping them deliver a better customer experience.
Einstein can automate data entry, even by using voice recognition, and surface actionable insights from both structured and unstructured data, finding the opportunities that are buried in your CRM.
Using AI can help sales teams work out what actions they should prioritise according to real-time KPIs, who they should engage thanks to intelligent recommendations, and ultimately how best to spend their time.
As a result, over three-quarters of teams already using AI are actually adding staff, compared to 48% of teams not using AI.
New technologies like AI may be revolutionising sales, but they are difficult to implement if your sales and marketing departments are siloed. You need that collaboration to make it work.
“The us vs. them mentality is really detrimental,” explained James Golding from Backbone Connect, in conversation with Daniel Yamoah during our Sell Together masterclass. “But if marketing understand what’s important to sales, and sales understand what’s important to marketing, it eventually all comes together. Sales might not care what’s in the campaign, but if it’s working, they’ll definitely want to know how many of them you can run.”
Golding noted that prospects have come to expect the personalisation they see in their personal life in their professional life, too. They need a much more 1-to-1 engagement process – one that starts in marketing but has to be followed up by sales, too.
That’s why having 360-degree visibility into the customer journey is becoming essential. It means that when the time is right, sales teams can draw on marketing engagement to identify exactly what a customer is interested in and really address what their needs are.
And that engagement doesn’t end there either – the trends we’re seeing indicate that sales KPIs are changing too. Increasingly, sales reps are likely to be compensated according to the lifetime value of the customer and their usage growth – which means closer alignment with service teams.
Growth is a team sport – and alignment across the business means you can sell better, together.
This year’s Sales Innovation Expo highlighted many of the trends and technologies that are picking up pace right now – and emphasised what an exciting time it is to be in sales.
Thanks for everyone who attended and participated in our masterclasses and roundtables. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the trends and keeping you updated.
And if you’re keen to learn more about the future of sales and the tools that are taking us there, download the third edition of our State of Sales Resaerch report.