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Six sales trends shaping industry

The sales environment of today is focused on selling value to clients rather than solutions or products, which demands a solid



Six sales trends shaping industry
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The sales environment of today is focused on selling value to clients rather than solutions or products, which demands a solid understanding of the client's requirements and highly skilled sales representatives who continue to evolve to stay ahead of the market. Gone are the days of having sales staff that depend solely on the gift of the gab to close deals.


Thabo Molefe, commercial and marketing director at LexisNexis South Africa, views the following as important trends shaping and shifting the sales industry.


1. Selling value, not products

The focus is now on selling value to clients instead of selling only your products or solutions and there is a rapid move away from transactional selling. Level 4 value creation forces you to go to the customer and say, 'Tell me about your business before I tell you about my product?' From there, you are forced to go back and look at your product. Is it what the customer needs? If not, what changes can we make to ensure that it is? Things such as service and the total brand experience also become critical.


2. Commoditisation

Increasing competition can lead to price becoming the primary focus for competitors and the key deciding factor for clients. The challenge faced by LexisNexis has been that many of our solutions are being sold into maturing markets and are starting to come under price pressure from customers and competitors. For any sales organisation in this situation, the important thing is that you are able to illustrate the value your solutions offer consistently in terms of directly addressing the needs of your clients.


3. Disintermediation

In many sales environments, the sales person is now being cut out and customers want to go directly to the source. The information age presents challenges and opportunities for any sales organisation, because clients may feel they can cut you out completely or have their needs met directly via the Internet. Again, the added value of your expertise and insight to clients is key.


4. Continuous Improvement

Sales skills are premium and must be kept fresh to ensure survival in this cutthroat industry. This requires an honest look at your sales team to ensure you have the right mix of skills to match your targets and close any gaps. In the company's case, the process has involved sales skills assessments; tests of personalities, acumen, interests and temperaments; matching those to suitable client accounts; plotting skills gaps and designing a training curriculum to keep sales people performing at their best. 


5. Technology

While sales organisations should embrace technology platforms that support the sales process, there needs to be a balance. Customers do not want to be treated like numbers, but that is an unfortunate outcome if companies rely too heavily on technology and automation in their sales practices. A delicate balance needs to be struck.


6. Alternative channels

With the advent of e-commerce, the gift of the gab does not work in that situation. Now it is about public relations, coupled with driving eyeballs to your website, but still talking to clients and interacting with them in new ways that demonstrate a clear understanding of their needs.


By paying attention to these trends and implementing measures to stay ahead of the curve, sales organisations can begin to reap benefits and close those coveted deals.