I once got one of the best compliments I've ever received. Ok ok, it's the only compliment I've ever received.
I went to a meeting with a high-profile advertising agency and met one of their executive staff. We talked for about 50 minutes and I had demoed a product a bit.
When I was leaving, she shook my hand and said "You feel like the new generation of sales people, because you don't try to sell me anything but I want to buy from you anyway".
I have focused a lot on that compliment over the years. I hate being sold to, but I like being helped. I don't know about you, but for me I really dislike when someone is trying to push me something that I don't want. Stay the hell away.
(By the way, there's this great jeans salesman I like a lot. He knows your size when you walk in the shop, he suggests cheaper alternatives when they fit you better and he knows everything about denim care. So he helps me to buy cheaper and to stay away from the store. But I of course keep coming back.)
The sales side of the future of work is definitely one of an informed consumer, a lot of people have made that point.
But you should also have informed sales people. They can also use the internet to actually find information about the customer before they contact them. Your sales people are also people, as in they're also consumers and if they can't do research, they're probably not someone you want to have on your staff.
They should also be informed through their digital workplace. CRM (customer relationship management) systems are nothing new, they've been around for a while and Salesforce is very successful doing CRM in the cloud (even though Salesforce interface is utter crap, but companies like Brisk.io can help with that).
I think that more people than the sales people should talk to the customers and then add information about them in a digital, searchable place (maybe not only the dedicated CRM). So when someone new in sales calls a prospect/lead/customer for the very first time, they should know about all the support questions that this customer has asked, what development have been done specifically for them and how much stuff they've bought. They should be equipped to help the customer by knowing the complete history of them.
Zendesk called me the other week. A friendly person (that I hadn't talked to before) asked me how my new company was doing and when I left Podio.
How did they know? They of course had a record on me somewhere in their systems since I've been the main Zendesk contact at Podio for quite a while and now that record had been updated. I felt really taken care of, not sold to.
Let's try to foster a new generation of sales people who are honest, who care and who help you. That would be a good start to a great future of sales in my humble opinion. And hey, always remember to ABC ;)