A term that used to be part of science fiction now is a reality in economics, in marketing, and now even in sales dynamics: Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Facing this, we need to ask ourselves: “How to prepare the commercial area of my company for something so impactful that can be unpredictable and hard to be understood?”
What is the future of the commercial area?
As the first step, we need to understand a bit about the background of these changes. According to Rodrigo Sahd, General Manager at Foursales, the deep changes in the dynamics of the commercial area will be mainly because of three factors:
- Simplification of the buying process.
- Automation of the sales process.
- Consumer experience as a survival factor.
“These three elements are already a reality in many segments, but will probably intensify and reach an even bigger scale up to 2030, to the point that the organization chart of today’s commercial area will be completely different in a few years”. Mentions Sahd. Some data backup this though:
- A study by McKinsey indicates that around 50% of the tasks you need to hire someone to do will be substitute by automation in 2030.
- A report by PwC predicts that due to Artificial Intelligence, the industrial production will increase over 14% in 2030.
- In an article published in 2009, HSM Management indicated that to each 80 job positions in the sales area, one marketing professional was hired.
We are going to take this last point to illustrate how things changed from 2009 to 2017. According to some hiring data collected by Foursales Group in 2016, for each 20 positions filled in the sales area, one marketing professional was hired. Meaning that the equation presented by HSM in 2009 changed in 400% in the last eight years.
In a scenery as extreme as this, it is more interesting and trustable to predict tendencies than to try to deduct what will happen in your segment. So below we have highlighted the main trends that will dictate the future of the commercial area.
1 – Talent will be even more valuable
Taking a lot of care not to give an improper historical importance to the fact, we undoubtedly live in a moment in human history in terms of momentum to innovate. Never before so many tools were created to innovate things and the reality of many businesses was never so susceptible to disruptions. Nowadays it is possible to create a new market niche in a few days, scale the company in months and to become a global reference in a few years. Minding this context, Sahd reinforces that “the power of talent was never this relevant for a company before and it will become more expensive and competitive each day”. One of the most curious examples of this will happen in the top ranks of companies. Sahd says that “with the practice of ‘vesting’ and other aggressive bonus, millionaire rewards for top positions tend to become more common in the following years”.
2 – Job positions will be even more specialized
Michael Porter uses the concept of strategic competition that, according to Sahd, is used inside Foursales in their position chart analysis for commercial companies: “To Porter, the more competition, less profit margins, to the position chart of the commercial area, the more competition, biggest is the necessity of improvement” he explains. With the competition being each day more global, the position chart of the commercial area will be pressured to be more effective in areas way different of acting (outbound, inbound, content, consumer experience), which will imply in an increase in the specialist position in sales and marketing departments. The positions that will be more common each day are:
- Inbound Manager
- Outbound Manager
- Consumer Experience Manager
- Commercial Planner Coordinator
- Business Intelligence Coordinator
- Sales Funnel Coordinator
- Leads Generation Specialist
- Leads Treatment Specialist
- Strategic Partnership Specialist
- Content Generation Specialist
3 – There will be less sales positions
Commercial positions of low complexity, that represent a big part of the commercial positions today, will be substitute by highly optimized and process-oriented salesforces and by automated systems in the future.
In a bigger scale this means that the number of sales position in the base of the pyramid will decrease in number considerably, opening up scape for two things: an increase in the more analytical sales positions (Planning, Methods and Process, Leads treatment) and boosting new positions in the marketing area.
4 – There will be more marketing positions
Going against the trend of sales area, marketing positions will be finally recognized as essential to the sales process. In the last years, for each 80 sales professional hired, only one marketing position was filled, in the next few years this logic – which has already changed – tend to be even more common.
Following some trends observed by Foursales in the last years, the relation of sales vs marketing positions will stabilized in the number of about 5 to 8 sales professionals to each marketing one in the year 2030, reaching an increase of about 1000% in the proportion of marketing professionals in relation to data collected in 2009.
All of this will happen because of the suppression of sales position as well as the boost in the need to understand, study and target the interactions and front-office investments in companies. An example that illustrates this really well this substitution of sales by marketing are the Sales Executive of the Consumer Goods segment that deals with supermarkets businesses, they mainly deals with sell-in (replacement) of products in the shelves.
One example to illustrate the boost that marketing position will have are the positions of “analytics”, “content generation”, “consumer experience”, ”sales process optimization” and others.
5 – Unemployment for the ones who do not adapt
According to Sahd, “the commercial managers of high performance will need to have different skills that they had in previous decades, leaving the secular charismatic and high negotiation skill profile to quickly focus on learning Marketing and IT”.
Retail salespeople, one of the most abundant position in the last decades, will lose space to online commerce, that will even extinct some niches. In summary, a wave of unemployment will hit people who are not updated.
6 – The Uber effect in the commercial area
Something that will greatly change in the future is the way that the companies relate to professionals. Each day it will be more common to have freelance positions even in the commercial area, organizations will hire a salesperson for a limited time. Another trend in the market is the hiring of professionals in the commercial area in a “shared” way, a kind of outsourcing.
Independent from a specific closure, the message is clear, we will walk towards more practical and fast changes in the market – that will be even more intense in the future.
4 tips for a company to get ready for the future
1 – Spend time and resources to systemize and monitor results in your sales and marketing area, making it as predictable and measurable as possible.
2- Do not cut costs when hiring the best professionals to all your strategic positions of sales and marketing, using advanced processes for attraction, evaluation and retention of these professionals. These areas will be very sensible to hits and fails in the next years.
3- Decrease part of your outbound budget to set up and create a modern marketing area, focusing in inbound actions, even if this is expensive. Because nowadays, the client acquisition costs can be reduced 3 to 5 times if technologies and processes are optimal.
4- Invest in strategic partnerships in your commercial area, always being ahead when it comes to your positions chart, client attraction and the development of optimized methods sales and marketing processes.
Next week we will publish an article about how a professional can prepare for the future of the commercial area.