Perfect Time to Be in Sales

Transcript

1 Optimizing Revenues: Mine the Gold You Already Have! s: When You Think AI, Think Augmented Intelligence AI in Sale There’ s Never Been a Better Time to Be in S ales By Barry Trailer Is there any future in sales? Imagine you’re a photographer who turned pro just before the digital revolution. You built and high quality lenses, camera bodies, equipped a darkroom in your house. At great expense, you bought lights, filters, and a hundred other things. You painstakingly researched the options before each of those purchases, and it took years before you could say to yourself: Yeah, I’ve got all the “Sales right gear. allows an short years after that, the gear is obsolete, and the new iPhones And just a few individual to and Samsungs are taking photographs of remarkable quality. So, is your career over? No. Your talent, training, creativity, It was never about the tools . learn many re of your professional ability. You put experience and knowledge form the co aspects of down the old tools and pick up the new ones. business to True, some of your colleagues simply give up. The transition to digital is too have a wrenching, the learning curve too steep. Maybe they can’t accept that things have successful Maybe for them it changed. was about the tools. career and In the world of professional selling, we’ve all already made our transition to allows you digital, and, more recently, to social. Yet we know that further change is on the to pivot in ard that the faint of heart way, and we can be sure that it will rock the boat so h different will return to shore even if it means turning their backs on new opportunities appearing on the horizon. directions if that’s A convenient way to describe this coming change is to simply say, “Artificial Intelligence.” There is a lot of speculation and concern about what AI will or won’t desired.” do to headcount in sales. One thing we know for sure is that the tools salespeople rely on today are going to be discarded tomorrow. pectations? We’re Who will rise to the challenge of new tools, new ways of working, and new buyer ex betting on two types of salespeople: the people who have always been learning, always finding creative The best of the best – 1. solutions, always doing more than making the sale. Like our hypothetical photographer, they ves by their tools. don’t define themsel The new ones, who are starting now or will soon start. 2. In category 1, we know who these people are. If you belong in this group, you know it. Anyone in any sales organization could name the sellers who are keeping pace with the changes in the market and in oduced or eport m a y be r ep r r No portion of this a n di stribu t ed in a n y f orm or b y y means the without © 2017 Miller Heiman Group, Inc. All rights reserved 1 n o r wri permissio t t prio s. r f the autho en

2 Optimizing Revenues: Mine the Gold You Already Have! AI in Sale s: When You Think AI, Think Augmented Intelligence technology; who are crushing it even as overall quota attainment rates are slipping. Category 2 has a question mark over it. We talk a lot about “next gen” technology, but not so much about the next generation of salespeople. Who wil l want to enter a field where the jobs are melting away, and where it’s all too easy to imagine a future in which the vendor’s AI and the buyer’s AI cut deals in the blink of an eye without any meddlesome humans in the middle? red opinion is that the pessimism is unwarranted. In fact, we’ll go on record At CSO Insights, our conside with the opposite proposition: There has never been a better time to become a professional salesperson. -time sellers to see what 0 full We’re not the only ones who feel this way. CSO Insights recently polled 90 they thought of sales as a career choice. Specifically, we asked, “Would you recommend sales as a career to young adults considering their future?” Their answers may surprise you. Eighty -five percent (see box) answered emph atically that yes, they would recommend sales as a career. These are individuals who are, almost entirely, working for companies that are investing in developing their sales skills, paying salary and expenses to get them to a training program, and who compete in complex sales situations (i.e., multiple buying levels and individuals, complex decision-making, etc.). These are not minimum-wage, seasonal, or temporary sales people. These are also individuals that make good incomes, enjoy working with people a nd like what they do (see boxed quotes). Yes, technology is going to change sales interactions in the coming years, because buying behaviors will continue to change and evolve. Transactional sales roles (i.e., rapid, repetitive, routine) are the most easily automated and, therefore, will be the first to evaporate. Interactional sales (i.e., complex, creative, protracted) will continue to have higher expectations and demand higher levels of sales competence. What do these changes mean for Sales as a Professi on (SaaP)? And if you’re trying to decide on a field of endeavor, is sales right for you? Read on and then decide. Who Should Go into Sales? Yes, there will be considerable shrinkage in the overall number of sales jobs – anything that can be automated wil l be – but the lost jobs are at the transactional end of the spectrum. The world of professional sales is infinitely more complex, and populated on both the buying and selling sides by bright people who are making big things happen. r eport m a y be r ep r No portion of this oduced or a n the di stribu t ed in a n y f orm or b y y means without Miller Heiman Group, Inc. All rights reserved 2017 © 2 n prio r s. permissio o en t t r wri f the autho

3 Optimizing Revenues: Mine the Gold You Already Have! s: When You Think AI, Think Augmented Intelligence AI in Sale Big things – product innovation, new technologies, breakthroughs, advances in the “Selling – require creativity, intuition, resourcefulness, and vision. Ezra Pound -art state -of -the said that great art combines the shock of the unexpected with the satisfaction of the helps s journey inevitable. We are reminded of this quote at moments along the customer’ overcome when the salesperson is able to show the client new ways of looking at their fear of problems as well as new ways of solving them. rejection and The next generation of salespeople will have this kind of ability. They will relish that can problem-solving and crafting custom sol utions. They will have the mindset to pursue propel a -development. They’ll take pride in being nimble, adaptable, lifelong learning and self -changing customer expectations and market conditions. and highly attuned to fast pe rson to ontrol of their own destiny. And they’ll enjoy the feeling of being in c great heights Far from seeing Artificial Intelligence as a threat, these next gen sellers will welcome in their it as a tool. One complaint we hear from salespeople today is that too much of their career.” time is taken up with clerical tasks. But within the next five years, the tedious tasks of the sales role will increasingly shift from the person to the machine. The young salespeople of tomorrow will literally not know what “paperwork” means. lways been many routes to a sales The new sellers will come from diverse backgrounds. There have a career, but B2B companies seeking new hires often have preconceptions about who is right for the job. As “creativity” gains recognition as a highly desirable characteristic, sales organizations will begin to look at a larg er pool of resumes. So if your daughter or son has just completed an expensive degree in Renaissance Studies, and now -time at Starbucks, you might want to call their attention to the fact that the world working part they’re is changing. And the world of sales is hiring. Not just STEM majors, but others with lateral and critical thinking abilities. Not fast talkers, but fast think ers. Not “coin “Sales is an operated” (i.e., money driven) individuals, but individuals driven by a direct exciting and connection between applied effort and earned income. Yes, financial rewards matter challenging but they were further down the list of what matters (see below). job. There Putting “Professional” in the Profession are always Quite apart from the changes in technology and buyer behavior, there’s been a new things cultural shift that is dissolving the negative stereotypes that have dogged professional to learn and – sales offers a career with selling for so long. The key word here is “professional” ethical standards, formal processes, rigorous metrics, continuous learning, and a huge best body of research behind it. practices to If these are, and increasingly will be, the characteristics that define professional apply to get sellers, we’ll conclude by cataloging the main points (in order) that our survey the deal.” respondents identified as making sales a profession with a future. r oduced or eport m a y be r ep r No portion of this di stribu f a n y means without the orm y t ed in a or b n y Miller Heiman Group, Inc. All rights reserved 2017 © 3 f the autho o n permissio s. en t t r wri prio r

4 Optimizing Revenues: Mine the Gold You Already Have! AI in Sale s: When You Think AI, Think Augmented Intelligence Job varied and satisfying. It was a little surprising, and tremendously gratifying, to discover how 1. many professional salespeople a re really happy with their jobs. There were many comments like this one: Sales offers the best of many worlds in the work environment and is constantly changing. The job rarely gets boring.” Several people went so far as to say their jobs are “fun” and even “exciting.” Other common themes were flexibility and the thrill of closing a deal. 2. -development. “The opportunities to evolve, grow and learn never Continuous learning and self stop,” one respondent wrote. “Sales leads to maximum utilization of both sides of the brain,” said another, “including relationship building, social interactions, and personal brand development.” And many noted the development of communications and interpersonal skills. 3. Career with a future. Our survey respondents were clear -eyed about the changing nature of the sales role, but they weren’t worried. “Even with new technologies and new ways of doing business, the skills and competencies of sales will always be crucial for successful deals,” said one. Another great comment was that, “Selling with quality is the distinct future for upcoming generations.” And several noted that competition for high performers is strong now and will only increase over time. 4. A great job for the right person. There was broad agreement among the survey respondents -motivated and they like that the “right person” for sales has two essential traits: They are self people. “It’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone,” some cautioned, but “young creative minds who like a challenging environment should be in sales.” And, “It’s rewarding to help people solve problems.” It’s notable, too, that salespeople themselves did not subscribe to outdated ideas that sales is just for extraverts or fast -talkers. 5. more by putting in more Earnings are commensurate with efforts. Simply put, “You can earn effort.” “Meet your goals and get rewarded based on performance.” “If you can build relationships, learn the products and make deals, the income will follow.” And here is a motto to live by from one field rep: “The sky is the limit . Hustle and be rewarded.” 6. Flexibility, not being stuck at a desk all day, feeding one’s entrepreneurial -determination. Self spirit without having to start a business, all contributed to a sense of freedom and control over one’s time. “Sales still provides the ability to control your own destiny while making a meaningful contribution to the growth of the company.” . This was a common theme, and it should 7. Working in sales prepares you for other careers but don’t see a path that will take them there. appeal to college grads who may have clear goals Our respondents had excellent advice: “The skills that you learn will propel you in sales as well as any other profession.” “Lots of opportunity to learn transferable skills.” “The behavioral change business is universal – these are skills you can take anywhere and add value.” r eport m a y be r ep r No portion of this oduced or a n the di stribu t ed in a n y f orm or b y y means without Miller Heiman Group, Inc. All rights reserved 2017 © 4 n prio r s. permissio o en t t r wri f the autho

5 Optimizing Revenues: Mine the Gold You Already Have! AI in Sale s: When You Think AI, Think Augmented Intelligence Conclusion We see three forces converging so that there has never been a better time to become a salesperson. r the AI umbrella. These will make the First, there are the various technological innovations that fall unde sales role less tedious, more productive, and better able to help customers in deep and enduring ways. Second, we can expect a new wave of young salespeople who won’t need to be told to think outside the they were never in a box to begin with. And just as they will deliver great value to their box, because organizations, their employers will pay that back with professional development opportunities, a clear path to career advancement, and compensation aligned with per formance. Third, the new generation of sellers will work in a world where they are respected as highly skilled, creative, resourceful, and indispensable to the global economy. Is now the perfect time to go into sales? You decide, after all, it’s your car eer. About CSO Insights TM is the independent research arm within Miller Heiman Group , dedicated to improving the performance CSO Insights and productivity of complex B2B sales. The CSO Insights team of respected analysts provides sales leaders with the research, data, expertise, and best practices required to build sustainable strategies for sales performance improvement. CSO Insights’ annual sales effectiveness studies, along with its benchmarking capabilities, are industry standards for sales leaders seeking operational and behavioral insights into how to improve their sales performance and to gain holistic assessments of their selling and sales management efficacy. Annual research studies address sales and service best practices, sales enablement and sales performance optimization. a y be r ep r oduced or No portion of this r eport m f without di stribu t ed in a n y orm or b y a n y means the Miller Heiman Group, Inc. All rights reserved 2017 © 5 o en permissio n t f the autho r s. prio t r wri

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