Selling in 2020: Master the changing sales landscape

With 65 percent of all complex business sales now being conducted without a sales person, it’s time to rethink your sales strategy.

Over the past five decades, the consultative sales process has dominated business-to-business sales. Today, new sales processes are emerging that will be critical for your company’s success selling in 2020 — particularly “transactional sales” such as Amazon, and “executive sales” such as GE Healthcare or the Boston Consulting Group.

The emerging new sales processes will allow sales and marketing departments to decide which sales process best fit their customer’s needs, and consequently re-align their company to accommodate the required changes, explains sales expert Chuck West. But the transition will be harder for some companies than others.

During this year’s IB Expo and Conference, West will teach attendees why there’s a shift in customer expectations, the emerging sales processes, and how to implement those strategies for stronger sales in the new year. The Expo is set for Wednesday, Oct. 16, at the Alliant Energy Center.

Using real-world examples, West will lead attendees through the sales processes of the future and highlight why sales is heading in a new direction.

Chuck West

West has the experience to read the tea leaves and see what’s coming. After earning his MBA from UW–Madison, West joined Honeywell in Minneapolis in a sales and marketing role before moving to 3M in sales training and product management. West then established West & Associates, a national sales and marketing consulting firm, which afforded him the opportunity to conduct marketing consulting and sales training with clients like Coca-Cola, Trane, Manitowoc Ice, Abbot Labs, and GE Healthcare.

“Companies will need to choose which sales process best fits their customer’s needs and future buying preferences,” says West, former program director and lecturer for sales, advanced management, and leadership training at UW–Madison’s School of Business Center for Professional and Executive Development. “Companies will have to change their sales process and sales support systems to give them a competitive edge in the coming decades. The required level of change will negatively affect or eliminate some companies, while enabling others to flourish and new ones to emerge.”

Companies that could be especially hard hit are those without a strong web presence. “The internet has enabled transactional sales to exist and grow,” notes West. “An increasing tech-savvy population relies on the internet for purchasing, which results in the continued growth of online transactional sales. Current research indicates over 65 percent of all complex business sales are conducted without a sales person involved!”

West understands that changes can’t happen overnight. When a salesperson is learning a new way of selling, it becomes difficult to shift sales processes. However, he’s helped companies make the shift and personally knows of their struggles.

“Struggles such as calling on executives to discuss finance and strategy, or courteous customer systems and flawless delivery systems,” says West.

Sales can often be an uphill battle, too, because much of what people know about sales is from media stereotypes, explains West, such as a con person doing something forceful or deceptive. The truth is salespeople live with the deals they make. Consequently, salespeople are looking for sales that help their company, the client company, and their future relationship.

“The most challenging and most important selling skills are to ask intelligent questions and listen,” notes West. “Employers often err on the side of teaching new sales people about the products and services they represent and not enough about the actual sales conversation.”

At this year’s IB Expo & Conference, attendees will have the opportunity to gain critical business insight from area experts on leadership, branding, and sales through a series of three instructive seminars running throughout the afternoon.

To learn about more of West’s sales best practices and more, register to attend the Expo.

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine — your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.