Change. That’s the operative word and it is pervasive. Change has become the norm, not the exception. Change is the new normal.
We are confronted with change daily. All segments of society are affected. Change is no longer exclusively a business phenomenon. It has become a societal phenomena, and it is happening at the speed of light.
Change is no longer dependent on attitude. Listen to how we used to be instructed to deal with change:
Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself”.
Viktor E. Frankl wrote, “When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves”.
Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Things do not change; we change”.
These great philosophers saw the power of individualistic change. They inspired millions to take a good hard look at themselves. They wrote what humanity needed to hear in order to cope with the change that has always existed.
Today there is a type of change that did not exist until about 50 years ago. That change is Technological Change. It does not depend on attitudinal acceptance. It forces individualistic acceptance or rejection that is not dependent on our attitude. Rejection of the power of technology is not an option; it is a requirement for survival in this century. Acceptance trumps attitude. Accept it or become irrelevant.
One segment of business that typifies the power of technological change is the profession of sales. Most sales organizations know that change has begun. Most sales representatives see it invading their domains. CRM (Contact Relationship Management) software is now adopted by most companies as a required business process. Salesforce.com, the leader in CRM systems, has become one of the largest and most admired companies in the world.
CRM’s were originally developed to help sales people by enabling them to list all of a customer’s information (address, phone, email, etc.) for each company and the contacts within that company. And, it enabled the representative to enter notes and other valuable information. It was the solution to transparency within the organization; anyone with access to the CRM could see what sales people knew about their customers. Soon, the CRM became linked to customer service, marketing, finance and other departments, enabling them to be in the loop..
Interestingly, CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization Study which surveyed more than 1,000 firms worldwide found that only 12.6 percent of the firms that are leveraging core CRM solutions reported seeing major increases in revenues per rep as a result of that investment alone. More is needed.
Big data, algorithms, and analytics have given companies the power to understand their clients, their competition, and their sales people in ways never imagined previously. They can spot trends, instantly adopt change, and measure results that informs the way they sell. Sales that used to be developed by sales people are now developed by technology. Transactional selling systems are now used by both B-C and B-B sales organizations
Companies that understand the value of CRM’s linked to other technological changes are not waiting for sales representatives to adopt them. These changes are enabling sales without sales representatives’ acceptance or involvement. In the immediate future we will see top performing, highly trained, sales representatives involved in only very strategic selling environments that require buying decisions from many different constituencies within the company and that are driven by long selling cycles. These sales representatives will be the “savants” (top producers who are highly skilled, superbly trained, technology competent, and who know how to build relationships, understand the buying processes of the companies with whom they work and who are seen as value creators by their clients). These representatives will develop the new business and others will be transitioned to customer service reps for the delivery of products and services. These representatives will ‘serve the savants’.
Technology is enabling this to happen now. If you have any doubt about that, look at Amazon and Alibaba. Their technology has empowered buyers to buy. The technology enabled buyers to get what they want, when they want it with the assistance of a new type of sales person called technology.
Both business to consumer and business to business companies are adopting systems like this and their success is not attitudinal. It is technologically and ROI oriented.
A long standing model has been that 80% of a company’s revenue comes from 20% of their clients. And for many companies 80% of their revenue is produced by 20% of their sales representatives.
No longer. Companies don’t need and can’t afford the 80% of reps.
They have found the new representative named Mr. or Ms. Technology. Technology will enable them to eliminate 80% of the sales team and morph the good ones from the 80% into customer service and inside sales assistants. They will enable savants to produce more.
Look at the numbers. To illustrate them, consider a company that does $100 million in sales revenue annually.
- Assume that there are 20 sales reps.
- 20% of them or 4 reps will develop an average annual revenue of $20M each
- Each top rep. is paid $175,000 yearly
- Each top rep. costs the company .00875 of revenue
- 80% of them or 16 reps. will each develop an average annual revenue of $1.25M each
- Each average rep is paid $80,000 each
- Each average reps costs the company .064 of revenue
What company today can afford to pay 80% of its sales staff $80,000 each for a return of only $1.25 M each?
What company can pay out $1,280,000 for 16 reps to generate $20,000,000 in sales when they can pay 20% of its sales staff $700,000 to generate $80,000,000 in sales?
Instead, progressive companies today are applying that $1.28M salary paid to 16 average reps towards marketing, big data, analytics, and more effective web-sites, blogs, inbound lead generation, and automated systems to fulfill business generated by those enhancements.
They are staffing more highly trained customer service/inside sales reps to serve the needs of Top Producing Sales Reps (the Savants).
Progressive companies are increasing their search for more Savants who can be supplied with more warm leads, better customer service, and sales support. This increased support will enable a heightened sales volume offsetting the necessity of paying for average producing sales reps.
Skills assessments like Assessments24/7 are being used to determine where the average sales representatives might fit into to this new model. Some will be qualified to be terrific customer service representatives, some will be used to set appointments from warm leads for the Top Producers, others who are suited for transactional selling will fulfill orders, and some will be assistants for the Top Producers charged with keeping these Savants doing what they do best—developing new business.
The handwriting is not on the wall: it is creatively impacting sales teams today.
Are you and your company prepared to be part of this massive change to the structure of sales teams?
If you are not, you have some real decisions to make about your career path.
If your company is not, it might be on the verge of becoming irrelevant.
If you are prepared, keep learning, keep enhancing your knowledge, and decide exactly where you best fit in. Are you a savant or do you prefer helping top producing savants become more effective? Perhaps you love to service the customers the top producers develop. Or, maybe your niche is transactional selling using the new tools for fulfilling buying requests.
A successful company will be built on adopting technology and utilizing sales people in these new roles. Their survival depends on it.
A successful sales career will be built on understanding where you will utilize your skills tomorrow. Get ready. Stay relevant by understanding what you are really good at doing. Then, Just Do It.
Harrison Greene, is the founder of Unique Selling Systems and partners with companies offering cutting edge technology solutions that revolutionize the sales process. He has been intimately involved with all aspects of the selling process as a sales representative, sales manager, and as V.P of Sales. For the last 20 years he has consulted with large and medium sized sales organizations throughout the United States.