The half-life of knowledge is estimated to be four years. This means that half of what we learn this year will need to be replaced by new knowledge four years from now. Said another way, half of what we learned four years ago has already been replaced by new knowledge.  

Add to that the estimate that we create more information in two days than existed from the beginning of civilization through 2003 and you quickly realize why lifelong learning and continuous improvement are more than catch phrases – they are business imperatives.  Gone are the days when the acquisition of the freshly minted college degree signaled the end of formal education.

In today’s dynamic economy, what is the educational trend that will command a growing share of corporate training resources in 2014? 

We predict it will be selling skills.

A new model of selling:

This is a time of tremendous change for individuals in nearly every profession and perhaps for no one more than those in the field of sales.  

Thanks to the wide availability of information, largely due to the internet and its search engines, social media and blogs, customers today are more informed, better educated and more demanding.

They are challenging the providers of products and services, asking tough questions and shopping around at an unprecedented rate.  Sales training in the past equipped sales people with the skills to win at the sales transaction.  

Today, more is required.  

The salespeople who will thrive in this economy are those who embrace a consultative approach to the customer relationship.  They realize that long-term needs and intangible factors weigh as heavily in the customer’s decision-making process as short-term interests. This demands a major shift in how the sale is made and how relationships with customers are built.  

We’re all in sales:

What words come to mind when you think of a salesperson? 

Research shows that around 90 percent of us hold negative perceptions of salespeople. 

That hasn’t changed in decades.  

What has changed as a result of the shift in the sales model is the reality that we are all in sales.  Like it or not, from the customer service representative to the laboratory technician to the accountant to the human resources professional…and so on, your role most likely involves assessing problems and opportunities, proposing solutions and influencing others.  

That’s selling. 

If you are a leader and subscribe to the belief that tapping inner motivation is important in building an engaged team, you are in sales.  

If you are a member of a growing contingent of leaders who choose to rely on an influential approach to leadership rather than the rewards and punishment approach of the past, you are in sales.  Your leadership tool box is incomplete if it is missing a set of selling skills.  

These are the tools that will help you sell the organization’s vision and values, sell the new change initiative you are leading and sell your own credibility.

Expect to see a surge in sales training in 2014.