So you’ve chosen a career in Sales. You’re excited by the thrill of the hunt, the change of scenery everyday and the opportunity to make as much money as you want. But could Sales be changing in a way that makes all this a distant memory? You may be at risk of being replaced by a sensor…big data.
In a recent Fortune magazine article on Formula 1 racing authored by Stacey Higginbotham, she writes about how big data has changed the racing sport. In “less than 300 milliseconds” data can travel from the farthest track in Australia to the UK where it can be analyzed and strategy adjustments can be provided back to the crew at the racetrack. According to Alan Peasland, head of technical partnerships at Infiniti Red Bull Racing, “Gut-feel decisions just aren’t made.”
Imagine big data eliminating gut-feel decisions in your sales process. With CRM platforms, marketing automation systems, and a variety of sales enablement tools there is more data than ever providing insight into each sales encounter. When contact was made, what was discussed, who was present, what the outcome or next step is, or what went wrong. Crunching all this data and putting it into a useable format might just make the salesperson a thing of the past.
As baby-boomers are overtaken by millennials buying habits are changing quickly. Millennials rely on mobile devices and testimonials much more than boomers do. In fact, according to Business Insider, 62% of millennials respond to mobile offers versus 39% of boomers. Additionally, 82% of millennials favor word-of-mouth from friends and family versus 52% of boomers. That means marketers must adjust their branding, advertising and sales processes.
Is it possible that in the future the role of the salesperson simply goes away? What if a company like Amazon was able to aggregate all of your purchases and with great accuracy recommend and predict future consumption…both product type and quantity? Wait a minute…aren’t they already headed that way? The Dollar Shave Club is already doing this with great success. Maybe this isn’t as far-fetched as you’d like to think it is.
Sales professionals need to recognize this tectonic shift. Your ability to survive being replaced by a sensor collecting and analyzing data will only be as good as your capability to adapt and add value. Reading, researching, and having your own teachable point of view are critical requirements of your survival. In the absence of any or all of these requirements your sales role today will become a fossil for tomorrow. Get curious and keep thirsty for new knowledge.