7 Buyer and Sales Trends to Watch in 2011

Updated: December 13, 2010

Several trends that point to transformation are:

  1. A shift from sales relationship to sales experience
    The predominant driver in sales over the past twenty-five years has been a focus on relationship selling in various contextual forms such as consultative selling, VIP selling, and etc. Sales will require development of meeting buyer demands for an experiential interaction with sales that is more than just a focus on relationships alone. The proliferation of "relationship" selling methodologies has made them predictable and of diminished value to buyers. While relationship building will remain important, reliance on this alone will not be enough.
  2. Organizations will focus on reinventing the buyer experience
    The year 2011 will be the beginning of companies adapting more intensely to the changing landscape of buyer behavior caused by the lasting effects of the recession and the advent of the digital and social age. Sales will require adaptation to these changes with new methods, tools, and systems that map well to buyer behavior. Companies will see a need to shift from solely a focus on selling processes to incorporating the sales experience into a framework of the overall buying experience. Inventing new ways of creating rewarding buyer experiences of which the sales experience is one aspect of several.
  3. Expertise level requirement of sales will increase
    As buyers demand more subject matter expertise to arrive at innovative solutions, this will place demands on B2B companies to increase the level of expertise on the part of sales functions. Problem-solving, assessment, and contextual solution creation relevant to buyer initiatives and triggers will become necessary requirements. The ability to map to buyer journeys and buying processes will increase as well as supporting sales with mapping perspectives and tools.
  4. Evolving systems and tools to improve the sales experience
    Existing systems and tools will need to evolve from primarily static methods to dynamic methods. Increasing the ability of sales to customize on the fly and have modular approaches to demonstrate expertise as well as map to buyer initiatives and buyer goals. This increases the imperative on marketing to provide rich dynamic content in flexible forms that is oriented to the buyer's perspective yet allows for sales to "co-create" content with buyers that support solution "co-creation" as well. With respect to systems or standards for measuring qualified leads and sales opportunities, there will be a shift in thinking about the effectiveness of models such as BANT and AIDA as the focus increases on sales experience and the buyer experience. These two types of measurement perspectives may no longer be adequate in standalone formats.
  5. Sales enablement will focus on improving buyer engagement
    Sales enablement will play a role in improving the overall buying experience by dedicating a focus on deeper understanding of buyers and improving engagement capabilities with buyers. Multiple channels of engagements including those involving social media will increase demands for training and new tools to support not only improved ability in conversational skills or dialoguing with buyers but also adapting to new forms or channels of engagements. Companies will begin to invest more heavily in attaining buyer and market insight that reveal buyer goals, target buyer personas, and mapping of buyer journeys.
  6. Buyer experience branding
    More B2B organizations will begin to bring an encompassing perspective to branding that has a distinct buyer experience orientation. Branding that has solely a product-centric or a sales-centric orientation will prove to be insufficient to map to the demands of buyer. Branding, reflected through strategy and content, will become representative of the experience buyers can expect.
  7. The year of the buyer
    B2B organizations will look to develop comprehensive buyer strategies with particular focus on investing in resources to acquire informing buyer insights as well as market insights. These insights utilized to develop market oriented buyer personas, buyer journey mapping, and buyer interaction models that enhance the sales experience and the overall buying experience.
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