I’m asked every year to make a prediction about the upcoming year. Last year I predicted that 2013 would be the year of hiring, that sales people would be on the move, freed from the downturn in the economy and feeling safe, I predicted sales people would start looking for new opportunities. I think I was half right. Lots of sales people took advantage of 2013 to move and find better fits, but companies also do a lot of moving. I saw a lot of organizations trim their dead weight and build new and improved sales organizations. I see this trend continuing, just not the pace of last year.
For 2014, I’m predicting it will be the year of execution and strategy and most companies won’t be ready.
The economy is back and stable. The Dow, S&P 500 are at historic highs and the Nasdaq is at it’s highest since 2001. There is a massive influx of tools available to sales organizations. Selling environments have changed/are changing. Insides sales is growing like mad. Content marketing is redefining lead generation, SEO and branding. Social selling and social media are disrupting traditional engagement channels. The world of sales has changed dramatically from just 5 years ago AND it’s becoming increasingly more complex. Inherent to complex environments, there are more choices and options available to sales leaders in 2014, therefore the sales organizations that capitalize on these external and internal changes will be the winners.
Crushing it in 2014 will be the output of the organizations who accurately assess their external and internal environments and translate them into unique and innovative strategies and then flawlessly execute on them. The winning organizations have already started.
Going into 2014 without a solid understanding of where the greatest market opportunities are and what unique strategies will be key in capitalizing on those opportunities will be suicide. You need to know now. You need to know how your going to leverage social media and social selling. You need to have answered the question; inside sales, outside sales, or both? You have to have identified your sales tools of choice; Insidesales.com, Insideview, Hoopla, Tellwise, Gainsight, TAS, Qvidian, etc. You can’t use every tool, but you have to determine which tools you will use and how they will integrate with your strategy(s). You need to know if you’re going to partner with marketing and leverage a content marketing strategy and if so, HOW? You need to know if your buyer’s “buying cycle” maps to your sales process and if not, how you’re going to get it to. You need to know how all of this stuff and more is going to be integrated with your overall sales strategy(s) and how you’re going to execute on them.
The possible number initiatives you could be working on in 2014 is staggering. Never has there been so many choices, so many options, so many opportunities affecting your sales organization. Therefore, it’s with this plethora of external and internal options that the sales organizations who are squarely focused on execution will be the winners.
2014 is the year of execution and strategy. That I have no doubt. If you think going into this year is like going into any other year, you will be punished. Things have changed. Sales is no longer a simple game, that can be manhandled. It’s become a complex beast and it will spit you out if you’re not prepared.