6 B2B Sales Trends to Watch in 2019

Predicting the future trends in B2B sales is becoming an annual tradition here at Vainu. This is already the fourth time when we sat down together and discussed what’s happening in this space. In the previous years, we've accurately predicted the rise of micro-targeting, sales automation and the explosive growth of AI-powered sales tools.

There are also trends that we missed such as conversational marketing which got a lot of coverage in industry blogs this year and was quickly adopted in different parts of the world. This time, it was fairly easy to put together a short list of 15 sales trends but much harder to narrow it down to the list of final six. But here they are:

B2B Sales Trends in 2019:

1. Real-Time Sales teams will emerge

At the moment, there are only a handful of companies that have a real-time sales team. Drift and Intercom were some of the first companies promoting this concept: a sales approach where new sales inquiries are being responded in real-time. The first RTS teams have focused heavily on online chat discussions, but we assume that the scope of RTS will expand to cover the whole sales process across multiple channels, quite like you can see in this Real-Time Sales Playbook. Here at Vainu, we launched our own RTS team in September 2018, a group that works on well-defined target groups with speedy response times at the core of everything they do.

2. Well-documented Sales Playbooks become the standard

Shareholders and executive teams love everything that scales. Not too long ago, we frequently saw posts on LinkedIn complaining how sales does not scale. In a world that is drowning in data, that's not true. If you're able to create a systematic sales process that leads to a profitable new business sales department, it very much meets the criteria of a scalable business. More and more companies aim to document their sales plays so that they can A/B test what works and what doesn't. Download your free sales playbook template here.

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3. Automated Sales Prospecting emerges (lead scoring 2.0)

There's nothing new in predictive or even prescriptive lead scoring; most marketing automation and CRM platforms provide this type of capability these days. Unfortunately, this scoring is often based on only the data that is stored in that specific platform, making the scores far from perfect. In 2019, more companies will start adding new external data sources into their scoring algorithms, allowing them to predict future demand much more precisely. This is the first step in something we expect to be a reasonably lengthy process: the death of prospecting in B2B sales.

At the beginning of the next decade, the first companies will automate both inbound sales prospecting and outbound sales prospecting at scale. These companies store all their customer and prospect data in one database and smart algorithms and search queries provide the list of the best prospects for all their sales reps, in real-time.

Watch our latest webinar in our Sales Resource Center and learn how we're planning to automate sales prospecting at Vainu.

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4. B2B marketing catches up with B2C marketing from 5 years ago

Whether you like it or not, it's safe to say that B2C marketing is years ahead of its B2B counterpart. Google, Facebook, and other data powerhouses have transformed the way brands target, engage and serve consumers. The same is slowly happening in the B2B space, too.

We are witnessing something we call "the war of contacts": all major tech ecosystems are expanding their offering with the goal of becoming that one master database for B2B marketing. Companies that started from different backgrounds, such as Zendesk (originally customer ticketing solution), Intercom (originally a chat solution) and HubSpot (originally a marketing automation provider) all have introduced new solutions with the goal of owning the most critical asset in B2B marketing: a master contact database with an understanding of decision-makers' needs, wants and desires.

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5. Sales Operations turns into a necessity for teams of all sizes

Most large and medium-sized sales teams are supported by a sales operations unit. Traditionally, sales operations people have spent the majority of their time managing sales data, reporting sales results, maintaining sales collateral and training salespeople on the sales process, tools and technologies. As B2B sales is becoming more of a science and less of an art, the role of sales operations is also changing rapidly. The mediocre teams will continue being support functions that are always fighting to get the resources they need and the attention they deserve. But the best-in-class sales operations teams are becoming real enablers. In the world where

  1. everything is real-time (1st trend),
  2. the amount of data is exploding (3rd and 4th trend) and
  3. a need for systems and processes is increasing (2nd trend)

the importance of having someone to tie all of that together is business-critical. And Sales Ops is a natural place for where that responsibility lies.

6. AI will generate a better sales pitch

No, AI won't replace humans this year, but we firmly believe that artificial intelligence will be used in creating personalized sales pitches. For years, companies have recorded data about lost and won deals, and reasons behind those outcomes. At the same time, the new data sources are drawing a much more nuanced picture of each potential customer.

Already now seasoned sales professionals can come up with a personalized sales pitch to almost any customer that belongs to their ideal customer profile. And they can do so in the blink of an eye. We predict that this will soon be done at scale. And not by salespeople, but artificial intelligence algorithms that read all that data in no time, and learn based on new data added by users or analytics professionals.

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Topics: B2B Sales

Mikko Honkanen

Mikko Honkanen is Vainu's CEO and Co-Founder with a strong background in SaaS industry and B2B sales.