This time last year, Forbes posted this article predicting how sales is likely to change over 2019. It seemed only apt to go back and review what went on, how it happened and if there was any weight in their predictions. Is Forbes the divinatory powerhouse that it claims to be, or is it in fact just shooting in the dark?

Prediction- Selling to the new generation: Generation Z

Okay I’ll be honest, this is a fairly safe bet: with Gen Z just coming of the age where they will be in their first jobs, it is just basic maths. However, what’s more interesting is just how different this generation is to their widely damned predecessors: the infamous ‘millennials’.  This is largely swayed by the fact that they grew up with incredible access to technology and the internet. Many were operating computers before they could write and using social media before they were in secondary school. They are used to personalisation and their expectation of being marketed to on this level extends into their business environment.

I feel like whilst this prediction has become true, it is a sweeping general statement and undeserved of a 5 star rating.

Divination score: 2 ½ stars

Prediction- A more strategic approach to sales enablement

Whilst it’s a trend that has been increasing over the last decade, it is fair to say that there was a particular focus on sales enablement strategy in 2019. As sales has evolved, so has the technologies supporting it. There’s such an abundance of help out there that strategies are being put in place to select the right tools for the jobs. Further to this, there has been a greater focus on training particularly on the omni channel approach but we will come to that later.

Whilst Forbes has used vague language to cover themselves here, hats off to them! It did happen and will likely continue into 2020.

Divination score: 4 stars

Prediction- Machine Learning, deep learning, artificial intelligence in sales

Here it is: the type of all seeing power that we were hoping for back in 2018. Forbes have hit the nail on the head with this one. Despite being slightly biased, AI has made huge waves in sales this year. The ability to analyse big data to deliver personalised sales strategies and predict sales trends in the future has taken the industry by storm. The types of artificial intelligence that used to be confined to the latest Ridley Scott movie is now widely available in sales tools. I mean, even our very own EngageIQ was launched in 2019, so who knows what 2020 is going to bring in this space.

It’s pretty unavoidable to give credit to Forbes here. Whilst it may be a safe bet, there is no denying that AI has been the sales buzzword of the year.

Divination score: 5 stars

Prediction- Moving towards the omni-channel experience

As previously alluded to, the omni-channel experience was prime real estate in 2019. Tying neatly into the emergence of Gen Z, the ability to sell across all channels has become a paramount skill in all businesses. Whilst this has been brought about by the end user, it has been facilitated through a myriad of tools to help bridge the gap between all channels.

It seems this skill will be as important in 2020 and the future as in 2019. We are only just starting to see the start of this approach to sales, but I feel Forbes were right in predicting this as being a big movement in 2019.

Divination score: 4 stars

Conclusion

Whilst this article has taken a jovial approach to the predictions of the last 12 months, the point still stands that sales is changing at a pace and everyone needs to keep up. Whilst probably the last department to embrace wide technological change, with many still favouring the ‘old school’ approach, it’s undeniable that there’s an advantage in bolstering your tactics with the aid of tech. As for 2020, I expect we will be seeing much of the same thing. Although, one thing is for sure – I, for one, will not be making any predictions. Luckily, we have Forbes for that: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2019/12/02/five-b2b-marketing-trends-to-watch-in-2020/#c85bc6c743bf?