Last week, MindTickle announced $27 million Series B funding for product development and global expansion, bringing the company’s total funding to $41.3 million. MindTickle is a mobile-friendly sales readiness platform that includes onboarding, microlearning, coaching and analytics. Krishna Depura, co-founder and CEO, says that clients have been able to decrease their sales ramp-up time by 30 to 40 percent using MindTickle’s platform.

This new funding reflects important sales trends for 2018, including a focus on sales enablement, increased spending on technology and the use of analytics to measure impact and ROI.

Sales Readiness and Enablement

“Sales readiness is the single most important metric that every public company CEO is paying attention to and the best predictor of future performance,” Canaan Partners’ Joydeep Bhattacharyya said in the press release announcing MindTickle’s funding.

To that end, sales enablement programs are becoming more common and more formalized. As a result, sales teams are becoming more knowledgeable, more efficient and more successful. In fact, recent research by CSO Insights found that organizations with a former sales enablement charter had a 27.6 percent higher quota attainment rate than organizations without one.

Considering how quickly the market and even products change, Depura says, it’s critical that organizations have an easy way to provide sales professionals with the information they need, when they need it, and receive ongoing data and feedback so they can identify knowledge gaps and fix them. Depura believes MindTickle’s platform is a comprehensive solution that trains and informs salespeople and collects the data sales and learning leaders need to develop better programs.

Sales Technologies

Providing mobile microlearning is important for salespeople, Depura says, who are often out of the office or on calls and need easy access to information “just in time.” He believes microlearning is going to be the primary way salespeople learn, as the best way for learning and sales managers “to keep them in touch and make them more productive without keeping them away from their jobs.”

Another technology increasingly common in sales is artificial intelligence (AI). Salesforce’s 2016 “State of Sales” survey of over 3,100 sales professionals around the world found that in the next three years, sales teams’ adoption of AI is expected to grow by 139 percent, and predictive intelligence is expected to grow by 118 percent.

Depura also believes there will be new investments in technology like AI for sales in 2018. In fact, MindTickle plans on using its new funding in part to implement machine learning in its platform to support sales coaching and learning. AI, Depura says, will make sales easier and also give managers “intelligent actions and insights” so they can focus their time on what matters.

“There’s no doubt that AI and its different applications will have a major impact on sales training,” wrote Jim Ninivaggi, chief readiness officer at Brainshark, Inc., last month. “The big question is when.” Echoing Depura’s comments, Ninivaggi predicts “significant adoption” of AI to target, personalize and deliver sales training within the next one or two years.

Sales Analytics

The Salesforce survey also found that 79 percent of sales teams use or are planning to use analytics technology “to increase efficiency,” and 76 percent of sales professionals say using analytics “has significantly or somewhat improved their ability to provide customers with a consistent experience across every channel.”

Last month, MindTickle announced a sales capability index (SCI), which organizations can use to measure and benchmark their sales capabilities, and Depura predicts that in 2018, there will be “a lot more analytical-driven solutions” in the sales field.

Using technology with analytics capabilities helps sales and learning leaders measure the impact of sales training and enablement and report that impact back to executives so they can see they’re getting a return on their investment. It also helps them make informed decisions about immediate and future plans. “They have to look at not only today’s needs but the needs they will have [in the future],” Depura says, “and intelligent and insightful solutions [will help] them make critical decisions for the business.”

This year saw a lot of discussion around the changes in the buying and selling process as well as the impact of new technology on sales. These changes have resulted in changes in the way we train and enable sales professionals, and research and best practices have emerged. As we see continued investments in sales enablement, technology and analytics in 2018, it will also be interesting to look out for corresponding increases in sales success and business impact.

AI is one of the trends Training Industry anticipates for 2018. Read more in the November/December issue of Training Industry Magazine.