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The 'Great Sales Transformation' is consultative, digital-first and AI-powered

Eight in 10 sales professionals say sales roles have changed since the pandemic, and nearly six in 10 say sales today is more appealing than five years ago.
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Written by Vala Afshar, Contributor on
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The great sales transformation is consultative, digital, and powered by AI, social collaboration and data visualization newer technologies. 

According to a recent Salesforce study, it is time to rewrite the sales job description. There is a 'Great Sales Transformation' underway as sales evolves beyond cold calling and high-stakes tactics. Today, sales professionals are more consultative, digital and comfortable with new technologies like AI to service customers in a capacity aimed at becoming trusted advisors and strategic business partners. With 87% of business buyers expecting sales reps to act as trusted advisors, sales teams are building more consultative relationships with their customers -- and maintaining those relationships to do more than just land the deal. 

In 2022 research, it is clear that today's connected customer is expecting a much more intelligent, relevant, timely and proactive engagements with sales. In a trusted experience-led economy, companies must transform their sales organizations to adapt to a more decentralized, digital-first, and hyper-knowledge sharing economy. Investing is sales in an investment in your customers. We know this because research shows us that in order to improve the customer experience, businesses must start with the employee experience. 

Salesforce surveyed nearly a 1,000 Sales Professionals in the US, UK and Germany to shed light on the state of the talent pipeline enterprise sales teams rely on, and spotlight just how different and sophisticated "sales" is today than even one, two or even five years ago. The research sought to understand: 1. How sales teams and the sales profession has evolved and 2. What technology has helped improve customer relationships among sales professionals. 

The research identified a great transformation in the sales function: 8 in 10 sales professionals say sales roles have changed since the pandemic, nearly 6 in 10 say sales today is more appealing than 5 years ago Here are some of key findings the research: 

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81% of salespeople say intelligent insights improves their customer relationships

There is a shift from purely transactional relationships, as buyers expect more from their sales teams

  • 89% say sales today is more about listening to the customer than talking to the customer
  • 79% say closing deals is not enough to be successful at their job
  • 74% say sales roles have become more consultative and less transactional since the pandemic
  • 81% of salespeople say intelligent insights improves their customer relationships
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9 in 10 salespeople say sales today is more about listening than talking

Developing relationships virtually has its challenges, and many sales reps crave more training

  • Half (51%) of reps expect to primarily sell virtually moving forward
  • But about 6 in 10 sales reps say virtual selling is harder than from an office. 
  • Only 29% also report receiving training on selling virtually.
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Following up with customers is top priority for sales training

The future is bright for sales

  • 61% of respondents want to continue working in sales in five years
  • 58% of reps say working in sales today is better than 5 years ago
  • 44% of reps say their work/life balance has improved since the start of the pandemic
  • 30% say diversity has improved
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81% of salespeople say sales has changed since the pandemic, especially sales consultant roles

Looking ahead, technology can play a large role in ensuring sales is a promising career path

  • 91% say having intelligent insights helps cut closing times significantly 
  • 83% say having integrated CRM tech makes sales a more appealing career path
  • 66% say self-service tech improves relationships with customers
  • 64% say subscription management tech improves relationships with customers
  • Despite nearly half saying work life balance has improved, 1 in 3 say mental health has declined 
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Despite nearly half saying work life balance has improved, 1 in 3 say mental health has declined 

The research shows that developing virtual relationships in sales has significant challenges and that sales professionals are craving training. While half (51%) of sales professionals expect to primarily sell virtually moving forward, 58% say it's harder than selling from an office. Despite these challenges, only 29% report receiving training on selling virtually. More than 6 in 10 respondents see themselves working in sales in five years. Therefore the need for professional development and career path development is welcomed by all. 

The research also highlights that supporting the 'Great Sales Transformation' -- and the talent within it -- requires the adoption of cutting edge technology. Nearly all sales professionals believe intelligent insights help cut closing times significantly, giving them time to focus on building deep customer relationships.

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