2014 was a big technology year in sales. Salesforce launched an Analytics Cloud, HubSpot entered CRM, and a flurry of new startups stepped up to improve selling and forecasting. Venture capitalists invested over a quarter of a billion into the industry for one simple (profitable) reason: technology makes sales teams better.
To me, the variety of new companies is as interesting as the number. “Make sales teams better” seems so simple, but it can range from more accurate executive forecasting to greater rep productivity. With variety comes noise, making it difficult to tease apart megatrends that stick from clever features that fade. But if you know where to look, in 2015, all that variety and innovation will start to bear fruit. If you’re a sales leader – or a technology vendor serving sales leaders, these top trends will affect how you hit your number this year… and beyond.
Sales Joins The C-Suite
2015 will be the year more heads of sales get a “C” in their title. We saw this happen over the last decade in marketing as automation tools delivered quantifiable and actionable insights to marketers. It propelled VPs from mere supporters of growth to enablers of growth. Enter the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Now it’s the Sales VP’s turn. In 2015, new technology will enable the shift from purely-artful selling to selling supported by analytical rigor. This data-driven, science-based approach will elevate how sales leaders see their role and how they are viewed by peers. Enter the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO).
Sales Productivity Tools Will Die Without Predictive Abilities (And Vice Versa)
In 2014, we saw a burst of sales enablement tools hit the market. Most fall into one of two categories: mobile productivity or predictive analytics. One… or the other. Here’s the problem: one or the other is not enough when the goal is connecting insight and action. Starting in the next 12 months, these two categories will merge. Sales mobile productivity tools will up their game to offer analytics. And the analytics tools must add features to make them more useful out in the field. Vendors that don’t offer both pieces of the puzzle won’t make it. Vendors, get ready. And buyers, beware.
Analytics Moves From Simple to Actionable in 2015
Knowing without doing won’t cut it in 2015. Analytics companies face a challenge similar to what business intelligence (BI) vendors faced in the ‘00s: reports making you feel smarter aren’t doing their job unless they help you work smarter. Charts and analytics must lead an executive or manager to tangible action to drive more revenue. Otherwise, why bother? Sales leader reactions to new technology will shift from “Cool!” to “So what?” And here’s the simple secret about what it takes for a technology vendor to deliver actionable value: they have to know selling in their bones.
2015 Will Be The Year of "Proof Before Purchase"
Our customer are so tired of the old way of adopting sales technology: get a sales pitch full of promises, do a time-consuming six to eight-week trial, deliver vague value without concrete return on investment (ROI), and try to convince the boss it’s worth it. In 2015, customers will demand solutions that work out of the box and deliver solid value in hours… or minutes. They will drive vendors to prove ROI. Handwaving about a cool user experience and fancy charts might get vendors a first meeting, but smart customers demand more before writing a check.
Put It All Together: What Is The Big 2015 Change for Sales Technology?
My elevator pitch for 2015 predictions is simple. Sales leaders’ status – and thinking – will elevate. They will demand proof that insight leads to ROI and revenue-driving action. And before opening their checkbooks, they will give technology vendors only a brief window to put up or shut up. I can’t wait.
What do you think? Post your comments below. Want to learn more about Clari? Schedule a 10 minute demo.