Change is a continuous process. COVID-19 has catalysed a few changes and has made this entire narrative of change management very relevant in today’s times. We hear a lot of people talking about the changing face of business wherein digital markets will take over every other form of marketing in both B2B and B2C markets. In this blog, let us take a closer look at the changing face of Sales Function and see how it is going to affect the quality, quantity, periodicity and methodologies in Sales function.
The Chaos that Precedes Change
- Sales volumes have drastically dropped. (Even zero for many players).
- Consumption has gone down significantly in non-essential products and services.
- More than one Vendor is talking about distress sales.
- Consumer’s Buying Behaviour is in for a change. Desires that were made to look like need and believed to be one is slowly being discovered as a desire now.
- #Hygiene and #Health are the two trending hashtags now.
- #showofftobecool is giving way to #noshowiscool
- Technology has suddenly become “Vital” for everyone. It is no longer desirable!
- Customers are searching for products made by you online and you are not able to see them. If you are not present online, you are not even able to showcase your product or service.
- SME and MSME vendors are beginning to realise that they have to compete to sell. No one or no policy is there to guarantee sales to them.
- Customer was always treated as a king! Now even in developing countries like India, the customer’s rights will increase to the point of discomfort for SME and MSME vendors.
What changes will happen in Sales Function?
Marketing Communication will be based on Artificial Intelligence(AI)
(Source: Heidi Cohen)
The big data analytics of consumer data, the buying pattern of each consumer which makes them unique, the supply chain pattern of stock movement through intelligent Business Intelligence initiatives and the few seconds of a potential customer visit captured through intelligent chatbots on your websites are small baby steps towards this direction.
In days to come, the marketing communication has to be made unique for each unique customer addressing their specific needs for the marketer to get a positive response. The response thus created will be handled by salesperson in the form of customer service or sales coordinators. The complexity of this transaction is inversely proportional to how direct your product or service allows you to reach the prospect before selling your product or service. For example, an auto salesperson may still be dealing with a visible prospect to give a test drive of his vehicle in times to come but the prospect would be pre inclined to his competitor if the marketing communication of his competitor was able to address the unique need of the prospect in difference to their own marcom. Such pin pointed marcom. is only possible with data analytics which feeds an AI engine for the same. SME and MSME have to start thinking in this direction and get suitable AI utility developed in this direction within budgets available on the table.
6 Outdoor Salesperson will be replaced by 2 Desktop Salesperson and 1 outdoor Sales coordinator
The competencies that we would like to look at in my new salesperson are as follows:
- Written communication (Pre coded standard documentation for each envisaged standard communication will be required in India since written communication is generally poor amongst our populace)
- Content creation. (Content creation and feeding the right content to the right person at the right time will become the key to lead generation and lead engagement)
- Understanding of use of computers for digital marketing. Autoresponders, Automated Sales Funnels, CRM software
- Telecalling skills
- Data Base Management Skills
- Use of template driven portals to create visuals
- Basic video making and editing skills
Business Intelligence & Data Analytics required for decision making
SME and MSME may not be able to afford these resources to begin with. They will have to outsource such talents on part time basis. To be able to do this, it is imperative that documentation of the purpose and process is very clear on paper orelse all outsourced contracts fail.
These functions becomes very important to forecast customer complaints, customer obsolensce, evolution of customer demand in the form of upgrade and regression analysis of what led to what?
Sales Consultants will replace Sales Mangers and Salespersons
The function of sales has to be knowledge driven which is fuelled by values and measurable benefits and not just promise box laced with glib talk. The ability of the Sales Consultant to know you, your application, your need as well as your constraints will become very vital in making a sales proposal to key accounts and VIP customers.
Demand Forecasting and Target Setting will be automated
Sales Target Setting will no longer be based on historical achievements progression or a statement of desire of the sales leaders. Mathematics will take over Emotions and the system will be able to forecast market demands mapped against the sales teams capability to reach out to fulfil the demand. Sales leaders will be required to fit into the demand forecasting done by the system. The bifurcation of the exact quantum of sales target into old account retention, new account creation, more customer per customer index (reference selling, cross selling and up selling) will become vital.
Customer Retention will also be the target of Sales function
Sales is said to be complete once customer pays the money against an order which is delivered to them. The changing definition of customer sales order will be when the customer makes a repeat order. Sellers will trace customer demand to the point of reorder. For this to happen, customer retention, loyalty , churn , attrition has to become an integral part of the sales department. The thin line between sales and service will slowly erode.
Technology will drive Sales teams which will consist of only Sales Leaders.
We do not need Sales Managers now. Technology will do the job of Sales Management. The team will consist of sales leaders who have the ability to fulfil demand forecasting done by the system. Technology will become so robust that the Sales manger in the system will become meaningless.
In a Nut shell
As long as there is a difference between the perception of seller and buyer, the function of Sales and Marketing will be there to bridge the same. The evolving nature of sales function is shifting from “change” to “metamorphosis”. In light of this, all stakeholders in sales ecosystems must tighten their belts because metamorphosis may not be cushioned by existing systems and processes unless major changes are made in the same. To appreciate this change it is important for stake holders like SME and MSME owners to participate in this change process or else the sales functions which try to retrofit into the changing demands may one day realise that their plugs are too small to fit into the plugs that this change promises to offer to us.