I wouldn’t consider myself a visionary man. I don’t think much about the future really. Rather, I look at where we’ve been and where we are—and that usually tells us what the future will look like.
And when it comes to the future of Sales and Marketing, I know there will be some major shifts.
For the businesses that embrace these shifts the soonest, they’ll be the leaders of their space moving forward.
For those that deny this shift, they’ll very likely get left behind.
As is always the case, the leaders of the previous generation rarely embrace the next, and such will be the case again and again as we consider what’s next for Sales and Marketing.
But enough waxing poetically, let’s look ahead to 2020 and see what’s in store.
1. The current model of “sales reps,” especially in the B2B space, will be practically extinct.
I had to start with this one because there are few old-school business habits more wasteful in 2017 (and beyond) than that of the traditional “sales rep.” In the past, sales reps were everything. They were given an area/territory, were responsible to grow that area, and then reaped the financial benefit of said growth.
But today, most of these sales reps are being utterly outperformed by their digital counterparts. In other words, most B2B relationships, and the initial vetting process are starting online. Then, once they’ve gone through this process, the company in-turn flips the lead over to the sales rep.
This is dumb.
In fact, many companies are finally waking up to it.
The reality is most companies don’t need sales reps like they used to. And if they do, they are more about customer satisfaction and experience than they are about generating new opportunities. Furthermore, businesses are realizing the old model of high-commissions doesn’t make a bit of financial sense, especially considering the businesses themselves are the ones doing the majority of the lead-gen through their online efforts.
2. Marketing professionals will get paid more than sales professionals.
Let me be clear: I’m not the anti-sales guy. In fact, I love “sales” so much I’ve built an entire brand around the word (red: Marcus er berømt for sin succesfulde rådgivningsvirksomhed "The Sales Lion"). That being said, multiple studies have shown that roughly 70% of the buying decision is now made before the prospect ever talks to a sales person/business face to face—and this number is growing every day. Therefore, if we’re all being honest with ourselves, this number also means the typical marketing department has a greater impact (on the actual sale) than the sales department. Because of this dramatic shift, compensation adjustments will soon follow—thus the see-saw effect.
3. Marketing departments will always attend Sales Meetings—or be combined into one department.
This is the biggest no-brainer in the history of Earth. The old days of Marketing being in one silo and Sales being in another is absolutely foolish if businesses are going to be able to give consumers what they want during the buying process.
In the past, marketers have often been aloof of consumer/customer questions, needs, issues, problems, etc—generally leading to ineffective websites and content. But considering effective content marketing can only be built upon addressing these topics, marketers can no longer be in the dark.
Because sales pros have always been the ones (at least ideally) with their finger on the pulse of the consumer (their questions, issues, needs, etc.)—Sales now has to align itself with Marketing so that no stone is left un-turned and consumers get exactly what they want, and quickly, during the researching/buying process.
4. Anything you think “MUST” be sold face to face today will be sold online.
Once again, this makes many companies nervous but of all I’ve mentioned, this is the one I’m most sure of.
Not many years ago, consumers would never have considered buying shoes without trying them on first. But then a company named Zappos came around and changed the game.
Not many years ago, the idea that consumers would have bought used cars by the thousands online every week, without even test-driving them first, was laughable. But now it’s the norm.
And so it is with those things we are so accustomed to buying with a handshake—they will soon be replaced with a digital handshake, whether we like it or not.
5. The Government will find contractors (B2G) primarily through the Internet.
Because I live in Virginia and work with so many businesses in the DC area, I’m constantly hearing the same statement:
“Yes, but the government doesn’t use the internet to find contractors.”
It’s a shame most of these companies/government contractors have no idea that the shift to finding contractors for the purpose of an RFP (request for proposal) is already happening online. With some simple keyword research, it’s easy to see it’s ocurring more and more. Despite this reality, there is no group of businesses that suffer more from “but we’re different” than the B2G space.
Eventually, they’re going to face the hard reality their space isn’t what it used to be and they better be *great* at providing value and selling through the internet– or they’re going to be in trouble.