Of all the observations I made in 2017, here are some of the ones I believe to be most important:
Non-Linearity: Both the sales process and the buying process have always been perceived as if they are linear processes. They are not. Because they are both dominated by human beings, they are anything but linear. This will continue to challenge salespeople and their companies well into the future.
Opportunity Creation: There has been, and there continues to be, too much of an emphasis on finding ways to create opportunities without having to prospect. This is now an epidemic, and it is one of the primary reasons companies are struggling now.
Metrics: Data is important, but it does not speak for itself. It requires interpretation, context. Because we can count things, we believe that those are the things most worth counting. The dashboard has replaced the interactions that provide the context, the insight, and the opportunity for improvement.
Efficiency: Thanks in large part to technology, we are focusing on efficiency at the expense of effectiveness. Because we can automate, we believe it is right to do so—even when the outcome is very different than the outcome we need. Human relationships and change management do not lend themselves to automation or technological solutions.
Intangibles: Because we desperately want sales to be a process, making it repeatable and certain in a world of uncertainty, we ignore the intangibles. I’m not sure the world is more chaotic than it was during World War II, but I am certain that the attributes and character traits that provided the foundation for success the,n are the same as they are now.
Deployment of Resources: You have limited time, limited energy, and limited financial resources with which to produce the results you want. When you allow those resources to be deployed against small things, things that don’t move the needle, you are giving up things that you can never get back.