Over the last few weeks, I have found myself taking part in a number of conversations involving CEOs, managing directors, leadership, sales and marketing teams.
While some of these conversations were planned, others were rather random. The unifying fact about these conversations though, is that we almost always ended up discussing new ways of being, leading and engineering more sustainable growth in our businesses.
From the workshop content review with the company who invited me to speak to their audiences, the strategy masterclass involving a wide range of sectors, to the quiet coffee catch-up at The Hilton with my new found inspirational friend Jo Hamlin.
These instances prompted me to revisit our seller and buyer evolution theme. I’m therefore excited to bring you some 2019 top trends – buyer and seller evolution. This what I’ve observed, experienced and gleaned from recent research so here we go!
The Current – Growth Stagnation
Most growth and investment leaders are increasingly questioning whether our traditional growth and sales structures, including measurements of success are relevant. Well, the answer is a simple ‘No’. There has been such a significant shift in the buyer’s perception, approach and activity around how sales needs be conducted with them.
1. Extinct growth ecosystems
Our ecosystems have become extinct for a while; at least, for the evolving companies and organisations. This is having a huge impact on buyers (customers), sellers, cultures, leadership, strategies, brands etc.
It has also led to a state of flux where choosing to fire-fight, deal with the tactical and ignore the longer term strategic considerations has become the best survival strategy.
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will lead buyer interactions
By 2020, buyers are likely to experience 85% non-human interactions with seller organisations; according to a 2015 Gartner report. AI is here to stay, a call for seller organisations to put more emphasis on Emotional Intelligence (EI) in their buyer organisation interactions. Two heads are better than one, says this Forbes article by Geoff Webb.
3. 60 – 90% sales cycle done by buyer
Regardless of the variations of this statistic and it’s various interpretations, the fact remains the same.
Seller organisations now have less time and opportunity to make an even greater impact on buyers and their organisations to effect the closing of a deal.
How can we counteract these current trends to accelerate future growth and capitalise on the seller and buyer evolution?
The Future – More Sustainable and Exponential Growth
4. Selling better to the buyer
Best in class organisations who want to evolve with the buyer are continuously exploring newer models of doing business. I continue to observe some considerations on this in some board rooms and peer leadership network forums. An example is reformed thinking around how C-Suite is collectively owning the growth number and how this reflects in CEO reports to the wider stakeholder community (including investors).
A second example is the redesigning of sales methodologies, processes, training, culture, success measurements etc. to reflect current trends which put emphasis on the buyer.
5. Long-term focus and larger portfolios
Bringing back a long-term focus to the game is key. It’s about bringing the right level of Human and Emotional Intelligence (EI) to balance out AI and meet the buyer closer to their point of need. Having long-term buyer experience maps embedded in the sales and growth transformation programmes is key. These also include prospect and customer journey maps.
Leaders who can combine the science and art of strategy and tactical execution, to capture the lower hanging fruits will stay ahead of the curve.
As the saying goes, there is strength in numbers. AI and Blockchain wait for no man; literally. Neither should humans. There is strength in cross-functional team alignment; sales, marketing, product, services, strategy, finance etc. Working harmoniously together to align with the buyer is fundamental to exponential and sustainable growth.
Long-term focus will lead to far larger client portfolios and more buyer spend with seller organisations.
6. Human-centered selling©
By now, Human-Centered Selling© may not be a stranger to you. But what is it really, I here you ask? True leaders are embedding a framework or blueprint in growth models, methodologies and processes that involve the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process.
As our growth eco-systems become extinct, technology and AI plays a bigger role, and the buyer continues to hugely to influence the sales cycle, we need to return to one thing. Being more human.
It is what we’re fundamentally wired to do best and it is proven to yield greater growth, profits and longer-term clients.
So what? – The Buyer and Seller Evolution
Evolution and mega economic trends will continue to impact our business world.
Leaders are encouraged to move away from ‘this is what must be done to make more profits and meet shareholder demands’, to ‘this is why we are here as an organisation or business’.
Enabling growth through more Emotional Intelligence, empathy, due diligence and inspired action is the future. Mastering the courage to ask the buyer ‘why’ they buy from us is key. Sellers and buyers will develop deeper trust-based relationships that sign deals quicker.
Finally, here’s a question to ponder on. How do the roles of growth leaders and their teams evolve? An all important part of the 2019 Top Trends – Buyer and Seller Evolution.
Maggie Sarfo is a passionate author, speaker, advisor and mentor for inspirational business leaders and entrepreneurs. Her clients say they explode growth revenue and/or access their highest potential. Her blog (maggiesarfo.com) is her playground, where she explores the topics of business growth, personal growth and peak performance. Learn more about her programmes.