How Sales Will Change in 2017

A lot of pundits and prognosticators are going to start publishing their predictions for 2017. Predicting what might happen in any given domain is difficult at best, and it’s next to impossible in a complex, dynamic domain like “sales.”

Here’s what won’t change.

The salespeople who believe that their success is external, that it is outside of their control, will continue to perform poorly. They won’t reach their potential because they are unaware of how good they could be if they took accountability for their results and worked hard to improve themselves.

Your prospective clients will still ignore salespeople they perceive as time-wasters. They will still feel a gap between the salesperson provided by the sales organizations who pursue them, and the salesperson they need. The bar will increasingly be raised, and many salespeople will struggle to meet their dream client’s expectation in a way that creates a preference.

Most people in sales will still not have read a single book on their chosen profession. Nor will they have made an investment in their personal and professional development. Only a few smart, aggressive sales managers will require their sales force to study their craft.

Quotas will go up. This will be true even if the leadership team raising the quota has not invested the necessary money to produce greater results. The leadership teams that believed their sales force underperformed will believe that raising the quota is simply increasing productivity to what it should be.

Most sales organizations, from top to bottom, will still believe that they can have what they want without really changing, ignoring the iron law of the universe that states that if what you were doing would produce those results, you’d already have them.

Here’s what will change.

Some salespeople are going to recognize that their success is individual and internal. This dramatic change in their belief system will produce an equally dramatic change in their results. This proves to be true with no exceptions.

A few smart salespeople will recognize that they are business people and develop the business acumen and situational knowledge to move from salesperson to the vaunted role of trusted advisor. Their peers will still not understand how they are producing this result. It will seem to them to be some sort of voodoo or black magic.

Some of you will read a book. Like this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Some enlightened leaders will make their team read a book together.

The occasional leadership team will decide that a massive improvement in sales results requires an investment equal to that task and double down on their bet. With the right leadership, they will produce outsized results.

The only thing that is really going to change in sales next year is that a small few people will recognize that they are the only thing that needs to change next year. This is the exact thing that changed last year, and this trend has continued uninterrupted for ages.

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