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Future Sales Trends and Beyond w/ Josiane Feigon [Episode 453]

Josiane Feigon, sales futurist, Founder of TeleSmart Communications, Inc., and the author of Smart Sales Manager, and Smart Selling on the Phone and Online. In this episode, we look into the sales crystal ball to see how the profession will evolve in the near future.

Key Takeaways

  • Josiane has owned TeleSmart, a sales training company for global inside sales, since 1994, and has written an annual sales trends report, since 2005. She researches patterns she observes, and is often “scary right.”
  • Josiane comments how digital inside sales “embraces the blur” of this unpredictable year.
  • One trend is towards remote activity, since work space is at a premium. In sales, though, it is more effective to gather.
  • Gen ‘Z,’ 19-22 years old, are starting to influence the workplace, with their unique values. Gen Z is rediscovering the value of relationship building through face-to-face activity.
  • Josiane talks about the gig economy, side gigs, and the entrepreneurial escape hatch.
  • SDR managers are trying to gamify the job, give bonuses, and include SDRs better, to keep up loyalty.
  • Sales organizations are creating new positions to allow for advancement in the SDR area, and beyond.
  • Josiane covers the introduction of emojis in corporate and customer communications — probably not in proposals!
  • Josiane remarks on reports that link social media usage to depression. Monitoring usage is suggested.
  • The customer’s emotional state is often unknown, and plays a major role in their behaviors. Can it be seen through sales automation software?
  • C-suite turnover is happening more quickly than ever before. C-suite roles and titles have changed in two years. Pick up the phone and find out what is happening at your prospect.
  • Josiane talks about fear, the loss of trust, and the focus on bringing it back and maintaining it.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul  0:00  

Joining me on the show today is Josiane Feigon. For the past 12 years, Josaine has written and published a trend report that lays out the significant macro trends coming up in sales and specifically and more generally in business. And she was on the show last year to talk about her 2016 report and now she’s back on to talk with us about her 2017 report. Josaine welcome back to the Sales Enablement Podcast.


Josiane Feigon  2:49  

Thank you, Andy. It’s really nice to be here. 


Andy Paul  3:58  

Okay, so, let’s jump into these because we’ve got less than 30 minutes to go through 17 trends, which I don’t think went through all of them. But well, I’ll cherry pick some of the ones that I thought were really interesting. So start the inside. I mean you have digital inside sales embraces the blur. So what’s that mean?


Josiane Feigon  4:15  

Well, basically it’s that we’re moving into a lot of different directions. And I’m calling it sort of a disruptive blur because everything is going to be a little disruptive as we move into this year. In other words nothing is predictable, as you probably know, from our political situation. Not much is completely predictable right now.


Andy Paul  4:38  

Yeah. Well, it’s sort of interesting. It seems like there’s some counter trends, though, too. I mean, so I was reading an article a couple weeks ago about how the open office, which has been popularized over the last five years is fading out of popularity, and they’re going back to cubicles again. Yeah, it seems like more things change more things stay the same.


Josiane Feigon  5:01  

Yeah. I mean, really the bigger trend. And I don’t know how much the inside sales world since that’s really the world I hang out in is moving into. But that’s really the remote trend because we’re seeing that more and more because space is at a premium. And so we’re really seeing that more and more is being held remote. Customers want that virtual relationship and it can be done anywhere.


Andy Paul  5:32 

Yeah, certainly see some companies doing that.


Josiane Feigon  5:46  

Yeah, well, it didn’t last as long. You know, in sales organizations, that’s a different story because they really need each other. They really kind of feed off of each other there is very contagious, so it’s really not unusual for the sales aisles to still be full where everything else is not, you know, you’ll walk around other departments, and they’re not anywhere near as full as the sales organizations are. 


Andy Paul  6:17  

Well, yeah, especially if you’re a startup in San Francisco. 


Josiane Feigon  6:42  

But I’m glad because first of all, we know that millennials are just getting such a bad rap. In terms of everyone picking on him, even though I still don’t pick on them, because I do think they continue to be one of our most productive generations we’ve had in years. But the millennials I’m sorry that the Gen Z’s are showing some different values than millennials have they value conversation, they value face to face contact, they value more investment opportunities. So they’re really a little different.


Andy Paul  7:36  

Because you know, Gen Z, even more so the millennials born and raised completely digital that know nothing but digital which if we were to believe everything we read about this is I think it’s true it’s what takes us away from person to person right? We score comfortably screen to screen but not so person to person. So where is Gen Z’s learning this desire for face to face communication?


Josiane Feigon  8:00  

You know, that’s a great question. I mean, they were learning it as a great question because they really haven’t been exposed to it. But the value of relationship building is stronger with them, then it is with the millennials. And maybe they are realizing another thing, I think, is they’re realizing that because they grew up so digital, that there’s a whole new world out there. And they’re really intrigued by it. I know that one of my friends’ sons is definitely a Gen Z. And, you know, if I give him a ride somewhere in my car, he wants to talk. He’s like, so what’s going on with you and what’s happening and tell me more about that. And it’s, it’s amazing, but I think this is the generation that’s sort of discovering conversation in a way that wasn’t before. So It’s a good thing.


Andy Paul  9:01  

Yeah, it’s a very good thing, especially from a sales perspective, you have generation people coming into Salesforce who have a predisposition to want to have conversation.


Josiane Feigon  9:09  

Oh, and I even notice it when I’m delivering training. I usually have them. They’ll stay at the break, and they’ll come and they’ll ask me, you know, how did you get into it? You know, how are you as an entrepreneur, how does it work? So it’s very interesting, that generation.

Andy Paul  9:27  

Okay, so another trend you have is that this is your fifth one is digital salespeople are building their escape hatch. So what do you mean by that?


Josiane Feigon  9:41  

The gig economy is really strong right now. And we’re noticing that it’s just about everybody has sort of a side gig that they’re working on whether they’re brewing craft beer, or they’re an Uber driver, or they’re renting out one of their Airbnb rooms while they’re traveling. It’s really not unusual. And this also explains why they’re not really making long term commitments to being employed with the same place is that they’re always working on something else on the side.


Andy Paul  10:59  

I mean, sometimes we have a hard time keeping them because entry level sales jobs they say especially like an SDR are not particularly pleasant environments to work in. Well, nor are they really encouraged to think of it as sort of a career opportunity, which I think is a shortfall.


Josiane Feigon  11:16  

I know that that’s changing. I mean, the SDR world managers are trying really hard to make it fun to do gamut, you know, to some, to gamify it to do more competition to give more prizes to give bonuses to include them more because they really are still the first level of contact. And you know, some of them are getting paid really well at the SDR level. So they’re trying to keep them any way they can. But you’re right. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s sort of a really ruthless job. No one’s answering the phone. If they do, you barely get a second to talk to them. Maybe 19 at the most seconds. There, you’re constantly, you know, dealing with rejection. And then they disappear. So it’s not an easy position to have. But, you know, the quantity of calls that they’re still making still demonstrates that it’s still a really viable position that’s making inroads and the sales pipeline.


Andy Paul  12:18  

So as part of the answer there, though, to, again, more along the lines of the career path, because if you look at another job type changes fairly frequently as engineers right there, that’s fairly fungible skills, but engineering talent tends to go where there’s interesting work to be done. Yeah, it seems like that’s the challenge for us with SDRs. And people coming in these entry level roles want to keep them much like you’re trying to retain your engineers. We got to give them something interesting to do. I mean, it’s hard to imagine that seems to be the same old thing for five years that I think I’m sure that I know there are individuals out there that have done SDR roles for much longer, but they can’t all be structured like now the high intensity, high volume of contacts and so on, there has to be something that gives a level of interest to it.


Josiane Feigon  13:12  

I agree and really the lifespan of an SDR is really no more than 18 months, if not a whole lot less these days. So, they’re really coming in as just a big career path and moving even to a team lead, or anything that moves them out of it after a short period of time. So they’re kind of hanging in there, and then they’re moving on fairly quickly.


Andy Paul  13:35  

Yeah, but I mean, when you look at the numbers, right, within an organization, the opportunities scale, right? I mean, there’s at the next level up, there aren’t as many. So that means if these people are leaving, they’re going to lose that expertise. And that knowledge as a company is I think the challenge and a trend I’d like to see is that we as an industry do a better job of saying Yeah, how do we define this role in such a way that we encourage the development of new skills. And that’s a really key point of interest so that people feel like they’re moving even if they’re not necessarily changing jobs, they still feel like they’re progressing in their career.


Josiane Feigon  14:10  

Yeah. And I think that that’s why a lot of sales organizations are opening up a lot more positions, to show that there is some advancement, because in the old days, you know, it was just like, maybe an inside sales and then Field Sales. And now there’s so much more in the progression and also SDR, some report into marketing. They don’t report it to sales. So there’s a lot of places you can move into and progress within a marketing organization or a sales organization.


Andy Paul  14:41  

Yeah, be interesting to see whether many of the salespeople think reporting to marketing is a good idea for them. So, I mean, it could be I mean, I’m not making a judgment one way or another because I think I was just talking to another guest earlier today about how eventually, the trend he sees is within a matter of years, and I sort of agree. So we’re gonna, the lines between marketing, sales, customer success are all going to blur fairly substantially.


Josiane Feigon  15:09  

I hope so. Yeah. I think there’s a lot of pressure on CMOS right now because they really have to walk those areas only. Well, it’s not any bitsey position right now.


Andy Paul  15:22  

Another one sort of interesting is you say emojis are going to roll workplace communication. So I found that very interesting because, yeah, yes, they’re, they’re effective at sort of help. big bold letter communication, but there’s no nuance. So what’s the price that we pay for moving to more

emoji driven communications?


Josiane Feigon  15:55  

Well, first of all, you know, we’ve got a customer that obviously likes brevity. The shorter the better. We also have a customer that’s very visual. We have a customer that wants very little words, okay, we know our emails are getting shorter, we know subject lines are getting shorter. But then we see on sort of the retail front and the mainstream front and the pop culture front, that all these people have started their own emoji lines. You know, I, our buddy, Kim Kardashian is like a billionaire because she’s got her little emojis. So the point is that this whole visual piece of communication is really taking off, and it’s going to spill over into the corporate market. And so, you know, yeah, most of these are still very new in the corporate b2b world, but they’re going to start making inroads and again, it makes sense they’re going to be looked at, they’re going to be you know, they they communicate some enthusiasm, some fun, something different. Obviously, they’ve got to be professional and appropriate, but that’s going to make sense inroads into the b2b world.


Andy Paul  17:03  

But to do what though? I mean, that’s the question. So I mean you’re placing an exclamation mark with it with an emoji, let’s say or but I mean, you’re not writing your proposal in emojis.


Josiane Feigon  17:13  

You probably are not going to write your proposal and an emoji, I mean, those things are gonna stay fairly traditional. But I think that everyone is changing up, the way they reach out and their outreach efforts are changing from a video introduction, whereas before, they would have never done that to shorter. So maybe you drop a few emojis in you know, a well placed, you know, opening outreach campaign around email. 


Andy Paul  21:30  

Okay, well, man, I agree. But I mean, at the same time, there’s a huge trend towards more automation and sales, which really sort of legislates against the idea of assigning importance to the emotions of emotions of the buyers, because you absolutely agree that we can use AI machine learning and automation. So and, you know, perhaps that becomes less important.


Josiane Feigon  21:53  

Well, no, I think that some of the software that we’re creating also is, you know, the algorithms and the Lot of that is becoming so sophisticated, that we probably can start tracking some of that, or at least recognizing it, noticing it, looking for it, which is only going to help us connect with them that much more.


Andy Paul  22:16  

Well, that’s really, I think one of the critical stages are seen as a trend you didn’t really address directly in years, which I see is that, that to that point is that there seems to be a little bit of a tipping point that I’m sensing where more and more customers now are saying, Yeah, I want better human interactions. And that’s problematic for a lot of our sales professionals these days is it’s always been not sales professionals these days, it’s always been the case salespeople have a hard time engaging with that prospect on a human level, and the way that they find valuable and meaningful.


Josiane Feigon  22:55  

Yeah, yeah. And also, I completely agree, I mean that at your human level they are starving for that customer as much as that customer is pushing us away and saying leave me alone. I’m going to do it all on my own, I’ll engage when I want to, there is that other flip side where they are craving the relationship, they are craving, the interaction, the sort of business intimacy that they’re not getting. So you know, paying attention to both of those is really important.


Andy Paul  25:34  

It’s the roles are being re envisioned for the way the businesses are being transformed by digital and it’s for salespeople selling into that environment. They’ve got to really get in and really understand. And certainly they can use some of the tools like LinkedIn and so on, but they’re gonna find their best tool for finding excuses for me, finding out what’s going on in a company. Let’s pick up the phone talking to somebody.


Josiane Feigon  25:58  

Yeah, that is so true. It really, really is. I mean, that whole session in itself is really looking at the titles, their responsibility, the titles we had, you know, two years ago compared to now they’re completely different. And some might have the same responsibilities, some might not. But I think salespeople absolutely need to be attuned to all of that.


Andy Paul  26:20  

Okay, so last one, then is, is your last one, just trust is the new business currency. So why is trust so new?


Josiane Feigon  26:30  

Well, I think the focus on trust more than ever before is going to be huge. And I’m sure that from our political climate, we’re losing trust, the majority of us are losing trust, and that’s going to become more important than ever now is, you know, how do you establish trust? How do you gain trust? How do you maintain trust? And then once you lose it, what happens? So yes, I’m calling The business currency, it’s like a commodity is really gaining that trust. How does that work? How do you do it? In a climate right now where everything is so uncertain and, you know, we really have to look at that.


Andy Paul  27:17  

Yeah, yeah. And so your senses that it’s bleeding over from the social political realm into the economic realm, the business realm so that some of the uncertainty is making people leery of forming some of those relationships that are trust based as well. It sounds like you’re saying,


Josiane Feigon  27:36  

I mean, I think it’s fear based. It’s like, how do I engage,they’re scared, they’re skittish. They’re uncertain. It’s so unpredictable. So yeah, absolutely. I think that there’s a lot of fear that exists right now. And that’s spilling over in the workplace, in, you know, relationships with customers in cars. summers not not investing in stuff. So I think we have to really look at the trust as a major area of focus.


Andy Paul  28:09  

Okay. Well, Josaine, that was great information. Thank you, friends. Remember, make it part of your day every day to deliberately learn something new to help you accelerate your success. And when we do that, make sure you join my conversations with guest experts like my guest today Josaine Feigon who shared her expertise on how to accelerate the growth of your business. Thanks again for joining me Until next time, this is Andy Paul. Good selling everybody.