Friday, March 25, 2011

Important Sales and Marketing Industry Trends

Trend #1: The salesperson of yesterday is becoming extinct.

Gerhard Gschwandtner, CEO of Selling Power magazine and host of the Sales 2.0 Conference, predicted that up to 15 million traditional sales positions will be displaced by technology over this decade. The trends of globalization and Internet-empowered buyers are devaluing the roles traditionally filled by salespeople—to provide product information and take orders. Gschwandtner says, “70% of purchasing decisions are now made online, before the buyer comes in contact with a salesperson. Customers are on the web, so if salespeople and marketers are not on the web, they’ll lose the business to competitors who are.” Gschwandtner continued, “A new breed of salesperson, which I call Salesperson 2.0, will evolve that is highly proficient with technology.”

Trend #2: The customer is in control.

Paul Melchiorre, VP Sales & Alliances at Ariba, defined Sales 2.0 as “buying cycles, rather than sales cycles, that are customer-driven and technology enabled.” Noting that buyers prefer to talk to their peers, rather than to salespeople, to get product information and opinions, Craig Rosenberg, VP of product and services at Focus Expert Network, proposed the new role of “sales facilitator,” a salesperson who “connects peers and stays out of the way.” The shift to accepting that customers control both information and sales velocity will likely be difficult for generations of marketing and sales executives who have traditionally been driven to produce short-term results.

Trend #3: Marketers are becoming publishers.

The fuel for these customer-driven buying cycles is Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah’s concept of “remarkable content”-- information and entertainment that attracts and engages buyers. The need to produce this content requires marketers to acquire new competencies. Rosenberg noted, “marketing organizations increasingly look like publishing and media organizations.” For example, a new trend in 2011 is the use of video, which is being enabled by technologies that greatly reduce the cost of producing video content. Speaker, Dave Fitzgerald went so far as to proclaim, “The whole world is going to video.” Marketing organizations, therefore, must now learn to be competent in video production.

Trend #4: Sales operations is becoming the revenue engine.

While remarkable content is the fuel, sales operations teams are becoming the engine on which marketing and sales are run. As most of the marketing and sales cycle increasingly happens “online,” the people, processes and technologies used to create and operate those “online” activities become mission-critical for the business. Michael Gerard, VP, Sales Advisory Practice at IDC, summarized, “The sales-operations function will be the driving force for productivity improvements in 2011.”

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