It’s become trite to say “sales has changed more in the past 5 years than in all preceding history.” Indulge me with leveraging this trite phrase. Usually, I look at these issues from the customer point of view, knowing that much of what has changed about sales has been a result of the changing buyers. Permit me to look internally only, let’s look within our own organizations and within our profession.
Let’s look at some of the things that have happened:
Content is king: Billions are invested in content development–much focused directly on customers, creating awareness, driving interest, creating demand, hopefully driving leads.
Beyond just content, marketing invests billions in other areas, all focused on helping create more customers and supporting sales through the entire buying cycle.
In the past 5 years, thousands of sales and marketing automation tools have hit the market, with thousands more every year. All these tools are intended to “help” sales people become more efficient, more productive, more knowledgeable, better prepared, more impactful.
Training has skyrocketed. Training in all forms, workshops, seminars, eLearning, webcasts, podcasts. It’s available where ever we turn. Where affordability might have been a barrier in the past, much is free or near free.
Information and data available to sales people keeps growing. We can research each company, each individual understanding them in ways we have never been able to do in the past. We can “stalk” them through the digital world, develop relationships with them. We have analytic tools giving us insights on buying behaviors, propensity to buy, and all sorts of things–all focused on helping us talk to the right customer, at the right time, about the things most relevant to them.
We have new business models in sales, rather than having to be masters of everything, specialization reigns. There are prospectors, qualifiers, demoers, account managers, closers, product line specialist, value engineering specialists, support teams and resources—and of course all the tools and technologies enabling us to collaborate and communicate with everyone.
And then there are the thousands of blogs, articles, books, videos, podcasts all helping us be better, more productive and more efficient. You can attend conferences focused on every aspect of marketing and selling every week.
Yet, virtually every study shows sales performance flat to declining. The number of people making goal is horrible. While I haven’t seen research data, in our own consulting practice, we see skyrocketing CPOD (or the equivalent), declining overall productivity.
Time available for selling, voluntary attrition, employee satisfaction, absenteeism, and other indicators — all going in the wrong direction.
We see more data and articles focused on things like seller distraction (from all this help we are giving), cognitive overload (it’s a brain thing—Google it).
Somehow in a world of abundance of tools, information, training, content, data we are accomplishing less.
Perhaps it’s time to rethink things. Perhaps rather than more, we should be simplifying, focusing on the few things that are most critical, excelling in executing those.
Perhaps we should think of how we might to more with less, rather than the inverse.