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:
- You're my age or older (I'm 59).
- You don't have a LinkedIn profile.
- You have fewer than 500 connections on LinkedIn.
- You don't visit LinkedIn each day to see what's happening with your connections.
- You don't actively participate in LinkedIn groups where your customers are most likely to find you.
- You don't read articles and comment to improve your visibility.
- You don't have your picture on your LinkedIn profile.
- You haven't integrated the myriad of powerful and effective tools that make selling easier and makes you more efficient.
- You call yourself "old-school".
- 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.com, ConnectAndSell.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:
- You are following a time-tested, proven, milestone-centric, formal, customized, sales process.
- You are selling consultatively - all the time.
- You have finally stopped positioning a demo as a milestone predictive of revenue.
- You have finally stopped doing demos before an opportunity is completely qualified.
- You are always working to improve your listening and questioning skills.
- You are rejection-proof.
- You have unconditional commitment to sales success.
- You are disciplined, consistent and resilient.
- You seek effective and helpful coaching from your sales leader and/or outside experts.
- 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:
- Bring donuts and coffee.
- Be a product encyclopedia.
- Quote pricing.
- Explain features and benefits.
- Show up and expect to get quality time.
- Expect people to buy because of their relationship alone.
- Expect people to buy because of their pricing alone.
- Expect people to buy because of their quality or service alone.
- Differentiate by talking about how they are different.
- 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.