I am currently writing a new white paper, which will address what I believe will be the critical sales challenges facing every organization in 2021 and beyond. I anticipate that there are probably seven but here is an abbreviated early taster of just five.
Challenge One – Employee Experience Management
It is no coincidence that the most successful and profitable organizations in the world are also always named in the “Best Companies to Work For” lists.
Every employee wants to be valued so we must provide them with the opportunity to grow – in experience, knowledge, skills and understanding. They need recognition: Recognition and praise will show many unknown facets, like a diamond, recognition polishes it and allows latent talent to shine. Finally, they want participation – stakeholder inclusion.
Maximizing the entire workforce around one common goal that creates value for the customer, the organization, and the employee is the only way forward to gain optimum profitability.
Challenge Two – Customer Experience Management
Customer service is the new growth engine, and customer experience is the new product.
Every year, businesses lose billions of dollars in sales due to inadequate customer service. In 2016, a survey from NewVoiceMedia quantified the amount of money lost that year by US businesses at roughly $62 billion.
Of all the customers who changed supplier/vendor in 2019, around 68% did so not because they were offered a better shiny deal or lower prices, it was because they no longer felt valued by the incumbent supplier.
Challenge Three – Sales Function Enablement & Alignment
In 2019, only 43% of frontline sales professionals made their number. This is down from 56% four years ago and the rate of decline shows no sign of being arrested anytime soon.
I believe that one of the most significant reasons why sales achievement levels are going through the floor while sales costs are going through the roof is the current paucity of qualified, experienced and capable sales managers … In fact, only 6% of Sales Managers have the necessary skills, experience, and expertise to develop and maintain a sales team at optimum performance levels. This has to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Challenge Four – Business Development
Salespeople are often described as being either ‘hunters’ or ‘farmers’. Allow me to introduce you to a new metaphor – the fisher – which better describes how successful salespeople are selling today. The goal is to put the bait out there and be ready to engage as soon as the prospect grabs it. I see technology as the game changer for adapting old sales models – selling differently in the marketplace by enticing, rather than pushing
All business is NOT good business: It takes just as long to work an unprofitable or unwinnable opportunity through the pipeline as a profitable or winnable one – recognizing the difference will determine your sales achievement levels.
Challenge Five – Efficient Utilization of Sales Technology
I expect the spend on sales technology in 2021 will be around $50 billion
However, in one of our most recent surveys 53% of respondents told us that they have not received an appropriate return on the investment they have made in sales technology and most alarmingly, only 38% said that their organization was “More Effective” or “A Lot More Effective” as a result of sales technology implementation.
Technology will never replace professional salespeople, it is NOT a crutch but merely another weapon in our armory. We cannot hope to control external events if we do not have control internally and technology should aid us in taking control.
Some Final Thoughts
The new, more discerning customers of tomorrow will seek out vendors who can be business partners, who are willing and able to share risks and who are able to properly manage the entire sales process.
Be assured, customers and prospects are still marching, but they are no longer marching to our drum – by “our” I mean us sellers. They have wrestled the drum away from us and they are now organizing their own marches. They decide if, and when, we are invited to join them – except at the very top end of selling, where it is a very different scenario altogether. The elite top 5% actually help plan the march, whilst the other 95% are lucky if they manage to squeeze into a place along the route.
We can choose to embrace the changes, adapt, and thrive, or we can resist, and risk extinction
Willy Loman, the hero in Arthur Miller’s classic Death of a Salesman, didn’t become a bad salesman overnight – he just refused to change…