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We are living now in what many people call the “new normal”. Sales leaders and sales teams have been forced to adapt quickly to shifting priorities and budgets, including working from home mandates and remote selling.
But, what does the future of sales look like? Are we going back to how things were before COVID or is the new normal here to stay?
That is the fascinating topic of conversation I had with my guest in this episode of the Modern Selling Podcast, Hang Black, VP of Global Sales & Technical Enablement at Juniper Networks. Hang develops and delivers a strategic framework for consistently onboarding new sellers, continuous talent nurture, and implementation of best practices in sales programs and tools.
As an experienced leader in high-tech companies, her expertise spans sales enablement, business development, marketing and engineering in large companies like AMD and Cisco as well as smaller companies such as Gigamon and 8x8.
Hang is a global speaker on sales, leadership, and a passionate advocate for women in the workplace. She holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, plus three patents in semiconductor manufacturing.
The New Normal is Not the Future of Sales The future of sales is not what we experienced before the pandemic nor is it what we are living today. According to Hang, the current environment is not the new normal but a far swing of the pendulum before we go back to a point somewhere in the middle.
In the post-quarantine world, sales professionals won’t be working from home all the time, but neither will outside sales teams be in the field as they used to.
For example, in the last few years, a salesperson relied on trade shows for prospecting and lead generation. In 2020, there are no trade shows but virtual events are very successful for B2B companies.
Hang believes that in the post-covid world, not all trade shows will come back, as some people will prefer the convenience and affordability of virtual events. She thinks that in-person events will be more intimate and meaningful; they will be more limited in attendance because they will be more targeted and less blanketed.
In the post-covid world, B2B sales reps must be more mindful of people’s time and add more value. Why? Because although in a virtual environment you may have higher attendance than in live events, that does not mean every attendee will be engaged. Each sales rep must work hard to try and engage people online with content that’s relevant to them.
What Will Sales Look Like in 2021? In 2021, sales organizations will still have a field sales team but with a strong virtual component with sales reps who know how to leverage tools and technology.
Hang says that at Juniper Networks, she is focusing on two major bets for the future of sales:
Leveraging skills for digital and social selling and Blurring the line between sales and technical sales. COVID was the perfect storm to start working on major social selling initiatives. That’s why a team from Juniper Networks took Vengreso’s digital training program, Selling with LinkedIn® Teams, to learn how to find, engage and connect with prospects on LinkedIn® and start more sales conversations.
Sales leaders and sales enablement leaders must look at what’s coming and plan for a world that’s more digital than ever before. Gartner data from 2018 already showed that B2B buyers only spent 17% of their time with vendors. And with an average of three vendors per buyer, a company would only have 5.6% of the time with a prospect.
The 2020 quarantines have accelerated the trend towards digital buying in the B2B world.
Hang’s personal experience helped her see the importance of implementing a digital selling initiative at Juniper’s sales organization. While a lot of people may li