Sales will always be part art and part science, and the path to success will always be a mix of both. But the science of selling is accelerating at a rapid pace, and adding more science to the sales process requires new ways of thinking and new ways of executing from your salesforce.
Organizations must embrace this new way of selling or run the risk of falling behind.
Finding the Right Talent for a Science-Driven Future
One area in which sales organizations must think more scientifically has to do with identifying, finding and keeping top talent. In this new science-driven era of selling, new skills and capabilities will be required for all sellers. In fact, salespeople will behave more like analysts or engineers than today’s sellers. They will need to be skilled in a technology-rich environment, which requires different skills and more knowledge to succeed.
Today, most sales professionals who attended college hold either a business administration or communications undergraduate degree. That’s going to change. Soon, the selling environment will be much more data-driven and sophisticated, and that will require a new kind of seller to drive higher performance. The best place to start is with the talent you hire.
Talent is defined first by the traits individuals have that they can’t learn – it’s the things they are born to do. An example of this is courage. You either have it or you don’t. You can’t take a class in courage. It’s there or it isn’t. And once you determine the traits that your top talent possesses, then you add skills to it. And then you invest to develop the skills they lack.
Three Skills Future Sellers Will Need
To sell to a more sophisticated buyer, sellers will need to possess different skills than the ones they have now. To really compete in the market, organizations will need to find sellers with three key talents that will drive success:
- The ability to understand and articulate systems and processes and be well versed in analytical thinking. The critical skills required for sellers to be successful will include financial analysis, critical thinking and a deep understanding of how management operates.
- Skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). STEM skills are coming to sales – bank on it. According to the U.S. Bureau of Information Resource Management, STEM is the fastest growing discipline in the job market, and it’s growing 56 percent faster than any other discipline when it comes to hiring. Sales is the fastest growing job in the U.S., so it’s only logical to predict that STEM will factor in the salesforce.
- An understanding of data and analytics. The sales environment is changing to include more data and analytics and more individualized, technology-driven content creation. Sellers who can break down data, spot trends and uncover what that means to their customers will have an edge on the competition.
Add it up, and you can see why tomorrow’s sellers will look more like an analyst or engineer than a business or communications major.
Is your organization ready for a science-based sales process?