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The CEO of Sales for Life Jamie Shanks recently sat down with Salesforce’s new Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist, Tiffani Bova, to talk building high performing sales teams and the future of digital selling. This is a segment of their interview. To watch the full session on-demand as part of Digital Sales Camp, click here.

What is the future of sales? How will the industry look like beyond 2020?

Jamie: I want you to put on your Nostradamus hat and I want you to help everyone in the audience. Because you have a pulse at a level of the sales community that most don’t. Can you help paint a picture of what you see five years from now? For those who are new hires into sales, for those that are 53 years old and they still need to log 7-10 more years in sales, what’s it going to look like beyond 2020?

Tiffani: I’m going to take off my Nostradamus hat and put on my state school hat, and I’m going to say this: For me, it has become crystal clear over the past 90 days. I thought I understood where it was going when I joined Salesforce. And now, with the time I’ve spent in front of customers — I’ve been fortunate enough to speak with many customers and prospects in Europe and the U.S. — I can tell you we’re right on the cusp of starting to think about selling in a much more automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictability way for driving out some of the tasks.

I know we can all argue we’ve been doing this a long time. Yes we have. We’ve been automating tasks that were sort of in the long-tail. The busy work. To spend more time dialing for dollars. It was, “let me get things off your plate so you can make more calls.”

Jamie: More yield per day.

Tiffani: That’s right. But now what I want to have happen is, “I’ve automated so you can make more calls, but now I want you to make better calls. And I want you to make the right calls at the right time to the right customer with the right content with the right offer.” And that call could be an email, a tweet, a social touch. It could be outbound, could be face-to-face. When I say call I just mean touch in some way.

So that automation now all of a sudden starts to say, “I’m a seller and I don’t actually have to call 100 because they were just kind of an okay hundred. But I can call 25 and I’m on point, like with the right offer. Marketing is feeding me what they’ve done the last three months and I know if I do this next I’m going to have a higher chance and likelihood of success.” Trust me — as a seller, I’m all in. So I think that analytics, predictability, machine learning, et cetera is really going to come into play.

The next thing I’d say is this: IoT. I always used to joke that IoT is not a skew. You can’t sell the skew of IoT. IoT is this combination of lots of things, but when you look at things selling to things, that automation starts to also look different. I used to be a sales rep who was selling widgets to a manufacturing plant. And now the machine is ordering the widgets on its own because it knows what’s in the production line, and it just automatically orders out. Now as a sales rep, sure, it replaced me, if you will. But now I can go in and sell value-added services because I don’t have to worry about the widgets.

So the machine learning and automation and AI around IoT and all that rich data that can be mined for predicting what’s going to be needed for a sales perspective is another one. And I always joke, who’s going to get the commission cheque when things sell to things?

Jamie: It’s going to be the information technologist who’s running the servers.

Tiffani: Probably. Who knows? I’d love to see a guy who’s the database administrator now carry a quota. That would be awesome. He’d be like, “I’m out. I’d rather go back to just coding over there in the corner.”

The next thing I’d say is really this “driving with experience” and “the customer is the centre of the behaviour” that has to change the metrics, the kinds of sellers, the kinds of offers, the way in which companies go to market. And I think that all in, this is an integrated solution across marketing and sales and service and everything that’s going on the multiple platforms from a commerce perspective. So social mobile cloud, big-data information analytics, IoT, those are really the three big ones, but there are a thousand that fall off of those three.

I think the one thing I would say out of those is that I’m going to go back to my previous comment: If you’re in sales today and you’ve always hit your quota and you’re wondering what’s next, it is really understanding what you need to look like as a sales rep two to three years from now.

I’m not saying you have to learn a thousand new skills and completely change everything about you and not be your authentic selling self. I don’t want you to do that. But I do want you to be open to finding ways in which you can be successful knowing all these things are happening. Because there’s nothing we can do to stop them from happening.

Jamie: I love the advice you gave at the beginning, that in the macro environment, you can’t change a darn thing. But what you can change is get dressed, be professional, learn your craft, look at your craft as a career, not a segment of small tactics that you play out.

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Julia Manoukian

Author: Julia Manoukian

Julia is focused on creating, managing and producing everything content-related at Sales for Life. From product to content marketing, she is committed to constantly evolving the company's marketing strategy to exceed the demands of the ever-changing buyer.

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