The Future of Sales Is Not AI, It’s You [Weekly Roundup]

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks


Welcome to your sales weekly roundup for January 22-28. This week we’ve got your role in the future of sales, steps to increasing the probability of crushing your number, the relationship between sales enablement and operations and CEB’s 5 sales trends for 2017. Enjoy.

The Future of Sales Is Not AI, It’s You

LinkedIn Sales Navigator expert Derek Pando unravels the question of what role AI and machine learning will play in the future of B2B sales, positing that individual reps play a more prominent role than they think. Here are his key points:

  • If You Deliver Value, You’re Safe. AI is replacing “the worst part” about sales: the transaction process. If you’re positioning yourself as an expert, as someone who delivers value, then you’re safe.
  • Relationships Still Drive Business. A recent LinkedIn survey showed that sales rep likeability was a major differentiator when it came to influencing B2B buyers in the US, UK, and Australia. Strong relationships, especially with influencers at a company, are still highly valuable in facilitating deals.
  • Not All Data Will Be Available To Robots. While robots may process the data, it’s your job to make connections, read the room and “make sense of the intangibles that make each deal unique. Data that informs B2B decisions comes from all sorts of sources, some inaccessible to robots, such as those in your prospects’ minds.

5 Steps to Increase the Probability of Crushing Your Number

Principal at SBI Joe DeRosa breaks down the five areas you need to hit your number. Here they are.

Win/Loss Analysis

Knowing why you list is as important then why you won. Review a sample of lost deals over the past 12 months and look at the following:

  • Primary reason for losing the opportunity
  • Sales cycle time from creation of opportunity to final disposition
  • Specific sales stages that show increases or decreases in cycle time (are deals getting hung up in one phase more than another?)
  • Any trends that can be identified regarding average sales price (i.e., higher ASP, longer cycle time)

Current Clients

Top sales leaders get to their clients personally. To get started:

  • Create a list of your top 25 clients.
  • Make a personal call to set up a time to meet in person.
  • Ask each client what their top 3 objectives are for 2017.
  • What big problems are they trying to solve?
  • What do they see as their biggest risks, as well as, opportunities?


Top sales leaders know that to hit their number consistently at least 70% of their sales reps must make their number every quarter. This is why it’s crucial to assess talent. Ask:

  • Number of reps who made their number in 2016
  • Stack ranking of reps for this year and past 3 years
  • List of reps that deliver the highest revenue growth year-over-year
  • Revisit the core competencies of the job to determine what changes are needed to make the new number

Business Partners

Cross functional collaboration is a huge key for success. The wrong deal and break down the internal workings of the company. Strong sales leaders connect with their colleagues in Marketing, Operations, Finance, IT, Service and Legal. Understand:

  • The three things they are focusing on to achieve their objective
  • What three risks are they most concerned about happening that could prevent them from achieving their objectives
  • How you (Sales) can help?


You can’t approach every year the same way. To keep making your number year after year, your messaging must evolve. Ask:

  • Is your industry growing or constricting?
  • What changes have taken place with your competitors? Who’s risen, who’s fallen?
  • What message is your top competitor communicating?
  • Who are the competitors everyone is watching and why?

What’s The Relationship Between Sales Force Enablement and Sales Operations?

Sales enablement thought leader Tamara Schenk outlines how foundation between sales enablement and ops is essential for success. She writes: “The sales process primarily defines activities in a certain sequence, but something more is needed: A methodology to explain the “why” and the specific “what to do.” And then, process and methodology should be powered by technology, a CRM system, and related applications to leverage the process’ potential for productivity.”

Three keys to remember:

  • Mature, disciplined sales operations provide a foundation for a scalable platform of productivity and performance.
  • Sales force enablement cannot exist in a vacuum. It functions best in collaboration with a solid and scalable platform for sales productivity maintained by sales operations.
  • Collaborate with sales operations to:
    • Ensure that your requirements such as, for instance, a customer-core oriented process landscape, will be implemented.
    • Design and improve the interfaces with the marketing and the service processes.
    • Adjust your enablement services to this customer-core foundation to ensure consistency and connectedness. Salespeople sense immediately whether all the different elements and services that are provided to them are consistent and connected to each other or not.

5 Trends for 2017

Though there have already been tons of blogs about trends for the upcoming year, the insights from CEB arguably hold the most weight. “In the thousands of conversations that CEB had with leading sales teams around the world last year, certain themes and topics emerged again and again.” These five trends sum up the major ones:

  • Renewed emphasis on cross-selling and account growth.  
  • More disciplined spending on sales enablement.
  • Rethinking “customer centricity”.
  • Marketing’s role expands across the entire funnel.
  • Simplification at the heart of sales strategy.



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