Putting a Bow on 2018: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Brian Williams, PhD

Congratulations - you made it to year-end! For most of us, year-end brings both stress and relief. But it's also one of the only times of the when those in sales have a chance to actually think. It's a short window to reflect on what worked and what needs to change to improve performance next year.

In the last few minutes of 2018, let's take a quick look back at the year with the help of you, our more than 30,000 blog readers. We reviewed blog data and identified what you found to be the most important topics, trends and issues last year. The topics run the gamut and paint an interesting picture of the last 12 months.

Bottom line: Modern selling is changing fast. Sales and sales enablement leaders have to move even faster. As these topics illustrate, there's a lot to pay attention to in our space. And the list will certainly continue to evolve in the new year.

According to our readers, here are the 10 most clicked, shared, and commented on blog topics in 2018. We sorted them into three categories:

  1. The Good: Positive trends about sales leadership and sales enablement. Embrace these factors in 2019.
  2. The Bad: Common issues we continue to see impacting sales productivity in a negative way. Keep these top of your radar.
  3. The Ugly: Strong headwinds that risk defining your year. Balance optimism with healthy skepticism.

The Good

2018 was a year of change, especially for the Sales Enablement function. We saw many companies live into the full potential of sales enablement as a strategic partner to sales leadership. And key to making it happen was a new approach to sales methodology that really works: an adaptive sales methodology. This model rejects a one-size fits all mindset when it comes to sales process. It builds improved deal situational awareness in reps and managers so they run the right sales play at the right time. 

The three most popular blogs in 2018 in this category were:

1. Four Steps to Sales Enablement Maturity

2. Embrace the Messiness of the Deal

3. The Art and Science of Sales Enablement

The Bad

Things aren't always perfect, especially in sales. The good of this bad news is that most problems are easily corrected. With just a bit more more leader attention and sales enablement support, reps and managers can address most of these issues. The really good news of these bad topics is that minor adjustments can produce major gains in sales productivity. Don't get distracted with the noise; stay focused on these issues in 2019.

Five of the most popular blogs in 2018 covered these topics:

4. It's Time to Rethink Your SMB Sales Force

5. 3 Practical Ways to Get Sales and Marketing Working Together

6. Stop Wasting Your Coaching Time

7. You're Setting Your Champion Up for Failure

8. What Your Reps Really Think about SKO

The Ugly

Sales is a profession full of risk and reward. There are always ugly topics lurking in the shadows. But effective sales leaders don't ignore risk and they know negatives won't get addressed on their own. Work in partnership with sales enablement to keep the field team focused these issues. 2019 looks like it will be full of unknowns that could impact sales performance. 

Two of the most popular blogs fit the 'ugly' category in 2018:

9. Preparing Your Sales Team for a Recession

10. 10 Deal Killers in 2018

Embracing Change in the New Year

There you have it. The top 10 blogs and topics in 2018 as identified by leading sales and sales enablement leaders. Enjoy what remains of your holiday break, but be ready to win in 2019. 

A sincere thanks to all of our clients and colleagues who made this year so amazing. Warm wishes for a successful 2019!

Contact us for more practical ideas for building early momentum with your sales results in the new year.

Brian Williams, PhD

Brian Williams, PhD

Researcher, consultant, and sales leader, Brian uses a data-driven approach to drive sales effectiveness. His clients include leading sales organizations in financial services, technology, healthcare, and professional services. Using insight from academics and change management, Brian helps senior leaders and sales enablement teams understand and succeed in today’s more demanding market. His research has been published in Harvard Business Review and other outlets.