Over the last two months I have shared several trends for every salesperson to know: #1 Your past success will increasingly hold you back, #2 Technology-driven change will dramatically accelerate (Rapid change is your best friend), #3 Time is increasing in value, and #4 We are shifting from the information age to the communication age.

This month I would like to share the final two trends I have identified for successful salespeople to keep abreast of changes in their industry.

Almost every salesperson has been told to be proactive, which means to be taking positive action. How do you know if a certain action is positive? You wait and see. That sounds like a crapshoot with bad odds. Therefore, you need to be pre-active to future known events. To determine pre-known events, you need to look at your customer segment and identify what types of events you are certain they will be experiencing soon. You then focus your actions on what will be happening rather than on what is happening. Being pre-active also means that you change the way people think. For example, if you put out a new product or service and hope it catches on, you’ll quickly learn that it can take a long time because you’re not actively changing the way people think about how the product can be used or how it might change their lives. Therefore, constantly educate your customers on the value you and your products and/or services offer so they begin to rethink the results they can achieve and the value you provide.

Sell the future benefit of what you do. Most salespeople sell the current benefits of what they do. But your customers already know the current benefit you offer. One of the reasons customers leave you for a competitor is that you haven’t cemented the future benefit you can bring them. Your goal as a salesperson should be to establish a long-term, problem-solving relationship with customers rather than a short-term transaction. Your most profitable customer is a repeat customer. Therefore, you want customers to see the benefit you can give them over time, not just in the present. You want to show how the products and services you offer are going to be evolving with their needs. In other words, you want to sell the evolution of your products or services. Unfortunately, most salespeople don’t know their future benefit. Therefore, you need to sit down with your fellow salespeople and create a list of future benefits that you have for your customers. Also, talk to the people developing the products and services and get an idea of where they’re taking them. Realize that you’re more likely to deliver future benefits if you think of them ahead of time. As a side benefit, this kind of dialog will also help internal communications within the company.

The more you understand and adapt to today’s current business trends, the better your sales will be—today and in the future.