Sales Jobs Are Changing: How to Keep Up and Keep Talent

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A 2020 Gartner survey predicts that 80% of B2B sales interactions will be virtual by 2025. Another study by Forrester shows that 40% of B2B reps planned to modify their sales tactics to include online sales in 2020. 

The future of sales will be virtual, labor data indeed indicate. Sales teams will need to learn new tools and tactics and keep up with evolving trends in sales management. For example, value-based selling and providing relevant solutions to specific pain points will become the norm. Sales will no longer be generic but directed toward buyers’ specific problems in sales funnel optimization.

Hiring quality sales talent won’t be as easy as it used to be, and prospects will likely have less interest in in-person sales. As hiring talent becomes more complex, many companies have already begun outsourcing sales to utilize a wealth of knowledge for a mere fraction of the cost.

How Do These Changes Affect Hiring?

Companies are creating more sales jobs, but fewer people are filling them. Hirers should rethink their processes when it comes to both recruiting and retaining sales talent. Companies need to incentivize prospective employees through compensation plans and flexibility when hiring salespeople. Another way to bring on top talent is to award employee referral fees, which helps recruit people who otherwise might not have been interested.

Companies can also reevaluate and improve onboarding processes. New jobs can be overwhelming, and employees are more likely to stay when they feel comfortable from the start. In retaining employees, offer competitive, on-target earnings for exceeding goals and expectations, and reward and pay for behaviors that align with company goals. Provide new employees with great coaching and thorough sales processes, too. Sales employees will have to be more flexible than ever regarding the changing landscape of sales models.

How Can Companies Keep Up With These Changes?

Sales optimization will mean learning a hybrid of in-person and remote selling. Prepare for this change in the industry with the following tips.

1. Train Your Current Sales Team

Consider how virtual sales will change your sales process or if you’ll need to make a move at all. Create solutions for any implications that a move to virtual sales might have, including how it can affect your business model, how you’ll interact with customers, and how you’ll hire and train talent. Employees need to know how to make personal connections virtually and keep interested parties engaged over time to provide the most value to customers. Advanced technologies, such as CRMs with artificial intelligence capabilities, can help. Investing in employees’ tools to deliver value will ultimately result in closer relationships with buyers and more confident sales teams.

Certain employees might be more adept than others with remote selling. Successful future sales organizations must go beyond merely identifying ideal buyers and their pain points. It’s more than just “leaning into” the digital experience — great sales talent will provide real value as trusted advisors who can help buyers improve their businesses and bottom lines.

Your current sales team will have to learn how to listen and build trust in buyer relationships that are cultivated virtually. Assess your employees to know who needs specified coaching and in what areas. Help your team acquire the skills to build bonds and make partnerships profitable for the long term.

2. Upgrade Your Team

To keep your workforce motivated and excited, cultivate strong company culture. Make sure the hired people fit that culture and align with your values. Tools such as the PXT select assessment, Culture Index, Predictive Index, or DiSC profile assessment can help give you an idea of how a person will fit into your team. 

Rewriting your job descriptions to include information about your culture can also help prospective employees see how they’ll fit. As you’re updating descriptions, have the necessary skills for selling in a digital environment. Sales team members must be more self-sufficient and capable of selling across emerging sales models (direct, virtual, etc.). New hires with the soft skills and tact required to cultivate buyer relationships remotely will bring a valuable layer of knowledge to your organization. 

3. Foster Teamwork and Reward Success

With the growing difficulty in finding interested and experienced talent, finding the best new hires is essential. But don’t forget the value of your current employees in the process. Employee longevity depends on several factors, including future planning. Current employees want to know where they will fit in six months, a year, or several years. They want to know if you see places for them to contribute meaningfully to the company beyond their current positions.

When training current talent and hiring new talent, offer a solid career plan, especially for highly valued employees. It’s critical to compensate successful team members to keep them on board fairly. Competitors will also be vying for your best talent’s attention if you’re trying to get employees from the competition. It’s your responsibility to offer opportunities for advancement, competitive compensation, recognition for achievements, and company culture to which employees can belong and meaningfully contribute. 

Companies can no longer sell to a general target audience and hope their message resonates. They’ll need to have a more personal sales model, creating an individual experience for each buyer, and they’ll need to be able to do it virtually. Inevitably, the salesperson’s role will change, with it will come more value and importance. With thoughtful training, recruiting, and retention tactics, your company can optimize your sales funnel for a new era and be well-prepared for the future, whatever it might bring.   

 

Harry Danz is the director of recruitment at Sales Xceleration.

 

 

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Harry Danz is the director of recruitment at Sales Xceleration, a firm specializing in assessing and implementing sales strategy, sales processes, and sales execution to drive growth.