30 Reasons Why 1 Million Sales Jobs Will be Obsolete

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 @ 06:03 AM

 

obsolete

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On March 8, this article on the Hubspot Sales Blog reported that one million B2B sales jobs will be lost.  Are you, or any of your salespeople at risk?  The article talked about four archetypes of salespeople and the two types at greatest risk.  While I agree that there won't be a place for order takers, and those who sell consultatively will always have work, I see the shakeup a bit differently.  Here's why.

If you're reading this article, it means that you are at least somewhat active on social media and could be less at risk than others.  For example, there are certain signs that people who meet some or all of the following 10 conditions might not have a place in the new sales order by 2020:

  1. You're my age or older (I'm 59).
  2. You don't have a LinkedIn profile.
  3. You have fewer than 500 connections on LinkedIn.
  4. You don't visit LinkedIn each day to see what's happening with your connections.
  5. You don't actively participate in LinkedIn groups where your customers are most likely to find you.
  6. You don't read articles and comment to improve your visibility.
  7. You don't have your picture on your LinkedIn profile.
  8. You haven't integrated the myriad of powerful and effective tools that make selling easier and makes you more efficient.
  9. You call yourself "old-school".
  10. Your only use of LinkedIn occurs when someone sends an invitation to join their network.

While LinkedIn does not replace prospecting, it helps people find you and when they do, they may be presold on you based on what they read about you and by you.  The opposite can happen too...  If you aren't taking advantage of this great platform, you have lost tremendous ground to your colleagues and competitors.

I mentioned tools in #8 above.  My favorites include Reachable.com, toofr.com, Shufflrr.com, Membrain.com, Wunderlist.com, ScheduleOnce.com, Postwire.com, Wistia.com, AdobeConnect.com, ToutApp.comConnectAndSell.com, and many more.  Why are tools important?  They help you personally target, market, identify, get introduced, and connect.  Then they help you track and manage your sales cycle with each opportunity as well as your pipeline.  The days of managing opportunities and sales cycles with notebooks, clunky CRM, spreadsheets and email are long gone.  You might just be starting to use clunky CRM, spreadsheets and email for this, but you're too late.  The cheese moved again!

Then there are some actual sales criteria.  if you aren't proactively making sure that you have the following 10 issues mastered, then you, selling, and the year 2020 may not be long for each other:

  1. You are following a time-tested, proven, milestone-centric, formal, customized, sales process.
  2. You are selling consultatively - all the time.
  3. You have finally stopped positioning a demo as a milestone predictive of revenue.
  4. You have finally stopped doing demos before an opportunity is completely qualified.
  5. You are always working to improve your listening and questioning skills.
  6. You are rejection-proof.
  7. You have unconditional commitment to sales success.
  8. You are disciplined, consistent and resilient.
  9. You seek effective and helpful coaching from your sales leader and/or outside experts.
  10. You have stopped being a source of product knowledge and pricing; and have become a valued resource.

Without a doubt, selling is more difficult than at any time in our history.  It is also more complex and requires a completely different skill set than it once did.  As an example, salespeople who just 10 years ago were doing just fine, are now struggling to make ends meet as they deal with the fact that they can no longer do the following 10 things and expect it to have a positive impact:

  1. Bring donuts and coffee.
  2. Be a product encyclopedia.
  3. Quote pricing.
  4. Explain features and benefits.
  5. Show up and expect to get quality time.
  6. Expect people to buy because of their relationship alone.
  7. Expect people to buy because of their pricing alone.
  8. Expect people to buy because of their quality or service alone.
  9. Differentiate by talking about how they are different.
  10. Waste the time of people who are important.

This warning is bigger than salespeople.  This is about sales organizations and companies and industries too.  Back in the 1990's, companies were working on Lean, ISO, Just in Time, Just Enough, upgrading their operations, and working on every phase of their business except sales.  I see similar things occurring today with upgrades to technology, capabilities and capacity, while salespeople are all but abandoned.  If you have a sales organization and you haven't had it evaluated, right-sized, right-roled, upgraded and improved in order for you to still be relevant in 2020, you are falling further behind each day.  This is all happening faster than most people think, so there is no time like the present.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales performance, social selling, salespeople, sales tools

Sales Efficiency - Has Google Provided Us With the Golden Egg?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Sep 10, 2014 @ 10:09 AM

It's 6 AM and we need to plan our day.  Oh boy.

There are 87 emails that came in since 6PM yesterday, 2 internal meetings, 3 external meetings, 5 phone meetings and 14 items on the to-do list that must be completed today, including proposals, follow ups, job offers and CRM updates.  Whew!

Does that sound like you and your typical day?

With all of the demands on our time, it's more important than ever that we become more efficient.  Some of that can be accomplished through the use of tools, but as with all automation, if you don't have a good manual process, the automated process probably won't help.

If you or your salespeople sell in a territory and you use an Android phone, or an IOS phone with Google Search, then Google tracks your every move.  Just go to https://www.google.com/settings/dashboard and click on location history and you'll see what I mean.  Creepy, right?  But their "Big Brother is watching you every single minute of the day and tracking every single place you go as well as when you go there" thing can be put to good use.  Click on the days in the calendar to see exactly where you traveled and when you traveled on that day.   
google dashboard
 Does it look efficient to you?  Could it be more efficient?

Another important tool for efficiency isn't really a tool, as much as it's an important feature on your tools and that's syncing.  You must be able to find exactly what you need, when you need it.  That goes for files, tasks, events, notes, websites and pages you frequently work with.  So here is my list of suggested applications, tools and services that meet my syncing and always available criteria:

  • Chrome Browser -With Google's free browser, your bookmarks, browsing history and favorite sites are synced across all of your devices so regardless of whether it's from your desktop, tablet, phone, or laptop, you have access to exactly the same information.  Two things make this work very efficiently.  The first is when you make liberal use of organized bookmarks like this:
    bookmarksThat eliminates typing in the URL's of any sites you visit; the second is a plug-in for Chrome called LastPass, which stores and enters your passwords and then automatically logs you in to each site you visit.  Boy, do these two things save a ton of time!
  • Wunderlist - a free to-do-list application does lists and tasks the way they were meant to be.  Your lists can have sub-lists that can be shared, you can add notes, customize the interface, and it syncs in real-time across every device.  It won't matter where you are, when you are there, or which device you are using, you will know and be able to edit exactly what it is you need to do.  
  • Calendar - If you use Google Calendar, then your calendar can sync across all of your devices too by using the IPad and IPhone application, Calendars, by Readdle.  And the Mac can access the Google Calendar via your browser or with the CalendarPro application from the Mac Store.  As with Wunderlist, you'll always know.
  • DropBox - My favorite file storage application for all the reasons we've been discussing here.  Quick, easy, and secure, with the ability to share specific files with others.
  • Postwire - Awesome platform for easily sharing specific content with customers, prospects and others.
  • Membrain - My all-time favorite Pipeline Management/CRM application.  Live in it.
  • Wistia and YouTube - You need video!  And the video must be served from a high-end video server like Wistia, or  for the masses, a search engine like YouTube. 
  • ToutApp - For excellent email template sharing, mail groups, and email marketing along with live email tracking.
  • Zoom Conferencing - For very easy, fast, video conferencing for up to 4 participants, Zoom Conferencing is very tough to beat and you can record some very good, quick video using the service while you're at it.

The world we live in calls for a more organized, efficient approach to selling and I hope that the tools I shared with you today will help you to optimize your approach to selling and sales.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, postwire, membrain, sales tools, toutapp, wunderlist, google calendar, dropbox, zoom conferencing

What It Really Means When CRM Isn't a Sales Force Priority

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 @ 14:02 PM

It's rare when a company isn't using something for CRM, even if it's an old version of ACT.  In most companies, it's not whether they are using CRM, it's which CRM they have chosen to use and whether the CRM has actually been adopted.  The CRM application of choice is completely useless to management unless the entire sales force is using it as intended.

The management dashboard, metrics, charts, graphs, tables, pipeline, forecasts, reports and anything else you can coax from today's feature-rich CRM applications will not contain up-to-date and accurate information unless every salesperson is committed and held accountable to updating it - DAILY.  Some CRM applications make this easier than others.  Landslide is a good example of easy because they provide VIP support to salespeople who aren't at a computer or mobile device, or to those who are computer-challenged.

But today's article isn't about adoption.  It's about the companies that fear CRM or any other important sales tool that requires selection, installation, training and adoption.  When companies fear providing tools, they are unknowingly saying that they are OK with their sales force being at a disadvantage.  Their competitors are using it.  It's a very similar scenario to companies that don't provide sales training or won't use sales assessments for selection.  They are sending a message to their sales leaders and salespeople, but it isn't the right message.  They are afraid of rebellion.  They are worried that, "If we demand that our salespeople use these tools, they will become upset, stop performing and leave our company."  Now, would that be such a bad thing?  Do you really WANT salespeople that would become upset and leave if you introduced and required them to use tools to help them sell more effectively and efficiently?  Salespeople rebel when their time is being wasted, not when they are being supported appropriately!

Selling has changed; it has become much more difficult.  Prospects are more resistant; there is more competition.  Margins are shrinking; sales cycles are taking longer.  As a result, salespeople are working harder, longer hours, dealing with more rejection and disappointment, and have less to show for their efforts.  Tools are their salvation!  Tools help them navigate the more complicated environment in which they find themselves.  Today's tools are integrated.  They are must-haves.

My rant is done.  Would you like to contribute?  Please add your thoughts below.

Also, the February issue of Top Sales World News (I'm on the cover, but not sure why) is available for download.  Inside there's a link to a short interview with me on the topic of, "Are Salespeople Still Cold-Calling?  The Ugly Truth".

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales performance, crm, jonathan farrington, sales assessments, sales tools

Are Sales Tools the Solution?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 10, 2009 @ 21:08 PM

When Sales tools are used properly, they become tremendous solutions, for example:

  • your salespeople update their opportunities in your Sales Force Automation application of choice (mine is Landslide.com) in real time (a minute here, a minute there)
  • your salespeople create slides for presentations, proposals, webinars and demos
  • those in your company that blog use it to generate credibility, visibility and leads
  • other social networking, like the use of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are also used to generate leads
  • email is used for updates but not in place of conversations that should take place on the phone

But how often do you observe your salespeople doing any of these things?

  • taking a couple of hours, during the day to update the pipeline
  • taking a couple of hours to work on a power point presentation they'll need next week
  • spending time using a social networking site to communicate with others
  • responding to emails that can wait until evening
  • doing something other than focusing on finding, moving and closing opportunities

When your salespeople focus and play with the tools instead of using the tools to support their selling efforts, the tools become part of the problem. Am I suggesting a 15-hour work day? No.  You need balance, you should spend time with your family.  But salespeople must do the work that doesn't involve interacting with their prospects, at times when they can't reach their prospects.

(C) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, sales, sales management, selling, Salesforce, Sales Force, crm, time management, sales tools

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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