The Future of Sales: 5 Predictions from LinkedIn’s SVP of Sales, Mike Gamson

When Mike Gamson was initially courted by an old colleague and asked to join the budding team at LinkedIn he declined the offer. A few months later he was persuaded to make the flight from Chicago to Silicon Valley and there began his long-term, long-distance relationship with the professional networking market leader, LinkedIn. Currently Mike Gamson serves as the SVP of Sales at LinkedIn and as an advisor to Base.

At a Forecast fireside chat in Chicago, Gamson and Base CEO, Uzi Shmilovici, talked about the sales landscape and which skills sales representatives must cultivate and the sort of talent sales teams must secure. We’ve broken it down to 5 of Gamson’s most memorable insights on the future of sales.

1. Enterprise sales won’t thrive if it looks the way it did a decade ago.

Team-building must emphasize nurturing intellectual curiosity and business savvy. It is not enough to accept “the inevitable” churn and burn approach to sales teams. Instead successful sales teams will thrive on their sales reps’ business acumen and managers will seek to inspire that hunger. Sales jobs shouldn’t be reserved for those that lacked the skills to fit in other departments, instead the team must be populated by smart, ambitious individuals who will constantly evolve with the needs of the market and the organization.

2. Be like Batman, not a beat cop.

Both Batman and beat cops are in the crime fighting business, but the way they do business couldn’t be any more different. Sales teams should take their cues from Batman – not beat cops. Beat cops patrol territory hoping they’ll run into trouble while they are on duty. Batman stays cooly and continuously connected to the crime-fighting network and responds when trouble arises. Similarly sales reps should keep their eye on the market and approach their contacts when they have a meaningful solution, not because they are calling down a sales sheet.

3. Network-aware territory management.

Like responds to like and we’ve all been on the opposite side of the table from someone who just plain doesn’t get/understand/prefer us. Future territory management will be organized around a sales reps likelihood to connect with their contact. The data available through social networks informs what LinkedIn calls, social proximity and social proximity can be understood as way to gauge interest and network overlap. Social proximity helps sales managers optimize the people they have against the opportunity they want to pursue. Future sales assignments will be decided based on most shared common ground. That way we’ll end up with fewer sales lost to mismatched personalities and deeper sales relationship based on shared perspectives.

4. The office fits in your pocket.

While it is true that sales reps can spend more time in the home office using technologies like video conferencing, it’s also true that face-to-face meetings will always be a part of the sales landscape. As such, mobile tools will continue to grow in importance and maturation. The ability to discern the signal from the noise will be a key asset for sales reps. Not only do reps need to be able to accurately asses the information their contacts and contacts’ companies share, they’ll also need to keep their eye on trends and business developments. Sales reps who understand and embrace technology will be central to a company’s success.

5. Social profiles shape talking points.

Since the advent of social media as a business tool, sales reps have been lifting cues from people’s online profiles to smooth out sales conversations. But social integration into CRM and calendars will make this information even more accessible and usable. The future of CRM looks like a calendar reminder with a social profile link and a seamless transition from hello, to small talk to the dotted line.

Gamson illustrates each of these points and explains why he can thank Sheryl Sandberg for his job in this video from The Forecast Club. Check out Gamson and Shmilovici and get to know a little bit more about why Base is the answer for  future-focused sales teams.

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