7 years ago
February 21, 2017

5 Skills Sales People Will Need by 2020

By the year 2020, sales people are going to need to learn to be consultants, build their online brand, and more if they want to avoid becoming obsolete.

Claire McConnachie Recruiter
Claire McConnachie

Maybe we won’t be riding around on hovercrafts or living on the moon by the year 2020, but some things are definitely going to change.

The business world as we know it, and the sales industry in particular, are both in for some drastic changes in the years to come. According to Forrester Research, in less than four years from now, one million business-to-business sales roles will become unnecessary, and thus, will disappear. That equates to approximately one quarter of sales jobs.

As a sales person, your job will be in danger if you don’t update your skills and talents to match the needs of tomorrow.

Here are five skills that you’re going to need in order to ensure that your job doesn’t become obsolete by the year 2020. If you don’t want to become irrelevant, start practicing these skills now and future-proof your job.

1. Be a Consultant

By 2020, sales people will need to learn how to see the bigger picture when selling. Buyers aren’t going to want to hear your presentation about functionalities and capabilities. They won’t need you to tell them how your products work or how much they cost. They’ll already know all this through online research.

Your role as a sales person will change to that of a consultant. It’s going to be more important than ever for you to offer advice, recommendations, and expertise that will help buyers better understand how your product will help them meet their goals or solve their problems. You’ll need to figure out how your offerings fit into the buyer’s individual goals as well as their overall business strategy.

2. Build Your Online Brand

Having a successful and reputable online brand will mean the difference between winning and losing sales in 2020. Buyers are far more likely to engage with sales people who have showcased your talents, skills, experience, and expertise online for all to see. Buyers want to engage with subject-matter experts and thought leaders. They want to know that you know your stuff. This is how they’ll decide if they trust you, if you’re credible, and if they want to buy from you.

So start a blog, build a strong social media presence and become a social selling pro, and share your expertise with the online world.

3. De-Educate Prospects

Buyers are already going through much of the sales cycle on their own. They’re going online to research, to gain knowledge, and to learn more in order to make more informed purchasing decisions. As time goes by, they’ll be consuming even more content, but not all of that content will be created equally.

Buyers might consume content that isn’t reliable or credible—coming from subpar sources. As a result, they’ll be misinformed, and it’ll be up to sales people to de-educate them as their trusted advisors.

You’ll need to learn how to figure out where a buyer’s knowledge is faulty and know how to set the record straight.

4. Ask Better Questions

To sell in 2020, you’re going to need to go straight to the buyer’s pain points. You’ll need to know what they really want, need, and desire. You’re going to need to understand their unique obstacles, challenges, problems, and opportunities to sell the right products and services at the right time.

Though buyers will be able to get a vast amount of content online, no infographic, whitepaper, or how-to video will be able to diagnose the buyer’s pain points. Sales people who want to stay relevant in 2020 will have to learn to ask better questions that get to the heart of the buyer’s issue, so you can make the best recommendations and truly meet their needs.

5. Understand Data

You might have gone this long without having to be too techy, but in 2020, you’re going to need to understand data. Sales people won’t be able to use their gut feeling to sell anymore.

You’ll need to combine these instincts with data-driven insights and knowledge. You already have access to lead intelligence and a wealth of other types of data that you can use to your advantage—so start learning how to use it.

Claire McConnachie Recruiter

Claire McConnachie

Claire has 4+ years of experience in sales and recruitment. As a Director of Client Services, her main objective is to connect great people to great companies by building strong relationships with both top clients and candidates in the sales industry. She specializes in sales roles of all seniority levels for both enterprise and start-up clients North American wide. When Claire isn't networking with top talent, she enjoys being outdoors, traveling and spending time with friends & family.