Three ways sales will transform in the 2020s

This article was contributed by Nigel Cullington, Head of Marketing at Upland Software

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems, the bedrock for sales operations over the last few decades, can only take them so far. It gives the “who” and the “what’, but, crucially, not the “how” and “what’s next”. Customer revenue optimisation (CRO) has changed the game for sales professionals by automating and augmenting the data they already have in CRM with insights and coaching to determine the right path to success in any given deal. CRO brings the entire revenue team together, allowing for consistent strategy, methodology and technology to deliver more value to customers and ensure higher close rates. As awareness of the CRO category continues to grow, business leaders are now learning that they can level up their sales process so that a larger percentage of the sales and/or partner organisations can make significant contributions to revenue growth. 

  1. Internal alignment strengthens revenue growth 

Sales is no longer the sole responsibility of the sales team, as contradictory as that may seem. Your customer success team is the secret weapon for revenue optimisation. As subscription-based consumption models dominate more and more business verticals, the value of customer success will continue to grow. Revenue cannot be optimised in a day. Instead, it requires everyone on the team to be aligned to deliver mutually beneficial outcomes and revenue.

Revenue attainment within today’s B2B enterprises is undergoing a drastic shift. The transition from selling products to helping customers reach their own desired business outcomes is changing the reality of sales. CRO refocuses the conversation to a true value-based and customer-aligned revenue approach. In 2020, sales teams will drive consistent revenue growth by moving away from CRM tools and making it a company-wide strategy by engaging the full customer success team.

  1. Finding the balance between A.I. and human interactions

In recent years, there has been a shift towards aligning A.I. and sales, and companies are increasingly looking towards automation as a means for optimising revenue. This trend has, however, been cast into the spotlight with the sales industry calling for a growing need for trust despite the growing role of AI. In fact, a recent Benchmark Study indicates that only 36% of customers trust the advice of employees in the company they are buying from. It’s important for companies to find a middle ground between leveraging A.I technology and instilling trust in their customer interactions. 

For many, prospective customers already have access to anything they want to know at their fingertips, whether it’s through internet searches or connecting with existing customers. It sounds counter-intuitive, but sales professionals should no longer just be selling products and/or services: they should be selling value. In today’s digital climate, sales professionals need to form a true understanding of the problem that a customer is trying to solve in order to deliver them a solution that will bring actual value. In 2020, organisations will need to realise that developing a meaningful relationship – one built primarily on trust -is at the core of good selling. 

  1. Building trust in a challenging climate

Another emerging trend of late is cryptocurrency, which facilitates a new approach to online transactions. Its ingenuity was met with considerable uncertainty by the industry and consumers alike. Data breaches have also provided a significant challenge to organisations; impacting a variety of industries and consumers. This, paired with access to vast amounts of data on the internet, has left vendors struggling to deal with a high level of scepticism.

This leaves the sales industry with the daunting task of building a new level of trust with its prospects and existing customers. Building a long-term customer relationship will become more dependent on company knowledge, requiring more reliable touchpoints than ever before. The teams within the wider revenue portfolio need to align on each and every customer interaction to maximise impact. In doing so, the sales professional will not only need to understand the customer’s organisation in a more succinct way but also have a vision into their long-term goals and objectives. Being able to demonstrate an understanding of the customer’s business outcomes will help to build the foundation of long-term trust.

Sales is no longer the craft that few can master. The market for CRO is expected to grow from £333 million in 2018 to £2.32 billion by 2024. This represents a Cumulative Average Growth Rate (CAGR) of 39%. CRO represents the next evolution in augmenting and automating the selling process, bringing together the revenue team to deliver exceptional value to the customer. Sales is changing, and organisations need to change with it.

How is the COVID-19 pandemic upping the ante on automation? Find out here.