It’s 2012 and high time to revisit 9 predictions that Laurie Page and I made early in 2011. I thought it might be interesting to see how well we did.
We’ll be scoring our predictions like a 9-hole round using this point system:
- No longer will the Inside Sales Rep be a “jack of all trades”. Roles will be clearly defined and measured based on specific desired outcomes.
Segmentation/specialization is still a hot topic. We are seeing some hesitance on the part of smaller organizations to specialize but, for those that have adopted the strategy, specialization often leads to dramatically increased productivity.
- Data will become an integral component for predicting the likelihood of Inside Sales success. No longer will companies buy data from one vendor but rather they will create a network of data providers to deliver to them the specific information in their target markets.
I actually think this problem got worse last year. People will invest in everything but data. If you got something wrong 30% every time you tried it, wouldn’t you look for a better way? Well, at least 30% of your database is bad and your sales and marketing teams have to work with it … not good!
- Metrics will evolve beyond baseline activity (calls, emails) to include metrics that track movement through the qualification & sales process. Management will track demo conversion and forecasting accuracy at the group and rep levels. What will change is that only those metrics that are used to make business decisions will be tracked. All others will fall by the wayside.
We were off on the adoption curve on this one. People are still tracking activity metrics and few, although some, are track forecasting accuracy.
- Marketing measurement will become revenue focused as opposed to activity focused. It will be less important to track what comes in at the top of the funnel (TOFU) and much more important to track what makes it to the middle of the funnel (MOFU).
Early adopters are on to this. Many companies now measure marketing on revenue and not just activity or number of leads. This is a thorny issue, but one that is definitely top of mind for many organizations.
- Effective onboarding will finally be recognized as a critical success factor. The days of “let’s hire a bunch of college kids and let them go at a list” are gone. Companies will realize that they need to have an effective process with supporting tools in place and that they need a plan for Reps to be effective.
I think we nailed it with this one– yeah!! Companies are taking big steps forward and improving their onboarding processes.
- People will stop focusing on bright shiny technologies and implement those that move their sales efforts forward. Many are toys but some are real tools that increase productivity and yield. The market will continue to understand the difference and make their buying decisions accordingly.
I think the rush to adopt technology without understanding its place in the process or ROI has slowed. There is so much great technology out there, but like we always say “A fool with a tool is still a fool.” But slowed isn’t stopped, so we missed this one.
- Messaging will continue to evolve from sales centric to buyer centric. It will become increasingly for Inside Sales Reps to understand a day in the life of their buyers.
We have definitely seen companies making the move away from me/I/we/our messaging. And towards speaking to the motivations, emotions and often compensation of their buyer personas. There is still significant room to grow, but I’m happy with the direction we are all heading!
- Great content will continue to evolve as the tool of choice for ISRs. Ask Reps what they want and they will tell you they want meaningful tools that will allow buyers to better understand their company’s unique value proposition. They want content that is interesting, available in a variety of media and moves the qualification and sales process forward.
Inside Sales Reps still want great content, but now they also want to be able to track who consumes it and when.
- ISRs will begin to understand the value of personal branding and how it can impact their sales efforts. No longer will the only thought leaders to be found at the top of the organization. Blogs, Twitter, etc. will create an environment where individual Reps can know showcase their knowledge and value.
We are making progress, but adoption is a much slower than anticipated. Hopefully 2012 will be the year this idea crosses the chasm.
So we shot a 39. That's 3 over with a hole-in-one? That's a round I can be proud of!
What do you think? Any predictions to share for 2012? Any thoughts on what you saw in 2011? I'd love to hear from you.(Photo credit: Steinarwariar)