6 Traits the Salesperson of Tomorrow Needs Today

4 min read

Massive shifts are taking place in how we work and how we sell and the business that thrives today will adjust to these now. The customer of tomorrow, the salesperson of tomorrow, the team of tomorrow, collaboration and the supply chain, and the role of entrepreneur/owner are all facing seismic changes. Those who heed the warning will reap tremendous benefits; those who ignore these changes will fight attrition. Following is our continuation of a 5-part part-mini series on what the business of tomorrow looks like, today.

In our last installment, we looked at the critical changes the customer of tomorrow demands today, in today’s post, we’re looking at the what the salesperson of tomorrow must possess in order to respond to these demands.  The salesperson of tomorrow will be:


(1) Insatiably Curious


The salesperson of tomorrow will need to be intensely curious about their client’s business so that they can become an expert about the problems their customer is trying to solve. Knowing your customer involves understanding their industry, their unique value and their position in the competitive landscape. Knowledge earns you the respect you’ll need to eventually get a seat at the table for a consultative conversation. Knowing your customer also gives you the strongest competitive advantage, no one else can enter into their world as you can, no one else is more uniquely positioned to become a trusted advisor than you.


(2) Ingenious Problem Solvers


Due to the enormous variety of product options, the promotional product industry of yesterday was built upon the ability to first find, then source reliably, and then decorate a product. The primary skill was that of being able to find and imprint. Now, any product can be found by anyone and sourcing is as simple as a mouse click, which makes sourcing, service, and reliable production entry level table stakes. The salesperson of tomorrow will possess the ability to quickly come up with solutions via creative product, they will spend their energy finding solutions for their clients, not merely sourcing merch.


(3) Active Creatives


Ingenuity is the ability to be cleverly inventive and resourceful but creativity begins with the ability to see from a different perspective, to consider a new angle, to think critically about the problem one is trying to solve. Creative people are better at making connections, and seeing things with a new perspective. A blank mug becomes a canvas for art and the beginning of a campaign (not the end). The salesperson of tomorrow will be knowledgeable enough about their clients to be discerning enough to pick the right idea (among a myriad of options) and translate this into action. They will also be trend-spotters who quickly detect what’s happening in the consumer market to bridge relevance for their corporate clients.


(4) Advertising Analysts


The salesperson of tomorrow will be savvy to the multiple options their customers use to advertise. She will advise her clients on overall ad spend and not merely the category related to the “promotional products budget,” she will advise on best options for the entire investment in order to provide the most effective solutions to advance a customer’s cause and will use the promotional products medium to replace ineffective or slow-performing categories when needed.


(5) Tech-Engaged


Salespeople should already be unburdened from non-selling activities but as AI gets smarter with services like PromoStandards evolving into real-time functionality, many simple tasks (like order follow up, client contact about projects in the pipeline, etc) will be replaced by automation as information flows seamlessly from supplier to distributor to customer. The distributor of tomorrow needs to ensure that they are up-to-date with the latest technology so they can ensure they are offering their salespeople the freedom to focus on the right types of selling activities; and the salesperson of tomorrow (today actually) needs to be aware that the customer expects this effortless workflow in the digital era and embrace technology as their primary tool for engagement.


(6) Nationwide and World-Wise


As the market continues to splinter into specialties, with online players gobbling up transaction-based business and as agency and service providers (like store providers) continue to grow with solution-based selling, distributor salespeople will continue to specialize in services or verticals and will be less land-locked by their geographic location, instead traveling (either virtually, physically, or more than likely both) to any market, regardless of location. Their customers will often transcend borders and they’ll also become more adept at overseas production options, particularly as the customer of tomorrow will keep requiring more and more completely custom work.

The tomorrow that we speak of is here now. For the salesperson who wants to thrive, this will require a new kind of skills education, a hyper-focus on solution selling, a deep dive into their customer’s objectives, and a ready-reliance on tech tools to enhance the customer’s overall experience.

What else do you think the salesperson of tomorrow should possess? Give us a shout on social @commonsku and share your thoughts.


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