A solid summa' in spite of Covid, social unrest, racial injustice, job losses, business closings and then of course, the back-biting and mud -slinging of the election, but other than that...a solid summa'!
What I do know with every Labor Day that it's time, with the flip of a virtual page in the calendar, for me to get ready for a very busy fall and winta'. This year is clearly no exception, and, in fact, the "getting ready" part, I believe, is much more critical for all of us than ever before.
Control what you can control
- Covid: I'm doing my part, as I am sure that you are, our business associates are, and my MIT and Tufts students are. Neither you nor I can stop the virus, but we both can stop it within our own worlds of our personal workspaces by being outspoken and proactive.
- Social & Political Unrest: I'm also doing my part here and have pledged personal time, commitment and money to be more proactive, have a louder voice, and no longer sit on the sidelines.
- Business: I run a 30 year old regional management consulting business, and we can pretty much control anything by shifting resources, adding services and openly embracing change. Sure, it takes a bit of time, and whatever changes we make need to align with our customers' needs, but what we know now in 2020 is that the worlds of Sales and Marketing has changed forever.
Forrester Research, 2015: 3 projections about 2020
Way back in the ancient times of 2015, Forrester, the leading sales and marketing consultancy, made a series of bold statements about "The Death of a (B2B) Salesperson" focusing on what the year 2020 would look like:
- Back in 2015, the survey data clearly showed that B2B buyers wanted to self-educate by a factor of 3 to 1 rather than talk to a salesperson. More convenient, more trustworthy. Today, that is 20 to 1.
- Back in 2015, the US economy employed 4.5m B2B salespeople. The projection was that 1m of those jobs were simply "order takers" on the "milk runs" and would be eliminated by 2020. There's no firm data on this, but it would appear that this did occur for specifically those "order takers". There's also tangent data that says that the actual number of "salespeople" is the same due to the growth of new businesses and a major shift from "field" salespeople to "inside" salespeople.
- The majority of traditional field salespeople will be replaced with a network of inside sales reps, self-serve ecommerce sites and call center agents. This has occurred, and it is highly likely, especially in a Covid and even post-Covid world, that that level of change will do continue to accelerate even more.
Now, we add in the Selling in a Covid world factor
in a Pre-Covid world:
- First, to level-set this, the data shows that the time spent selling remotely by field sales reps increased 89% from 2015 to 2017. So, this shift has been well under way for five years simply based on how customers and prospects would prefer to interact with salespeople.
- Buyers have less time, more complexity and more choices in their jobs than ever before. As such the time for making a positive impact with a meaningful value proposition in an initial call/email/text/CTA has now been reduced to four minutes.
- For the past four years, B2B buyers have completed 57%-70% of their buying research online before contacting any salesperson. Sirius Decisions, the authority on this, and now purchased by Forrester, states 67% of the buyer's journey is done digitally often with the the primary decisions being made before contacting any sales rep. This is now two year old data, and we believe that that number is now 70% plus.
- 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level or vice-president level executives actively use social media to make purchasing decisions.
- The time for
in A Covid World:
Put in your own data here since there is nothing objective that has been published yet, but it's impossible for me to believe that professional salespeople, who had been actively driving and flying hundreds and thousands of miles for simple top-of-the-funnel Discovery and demo meetings are going to "go back" to the inefficient and ineffective days of doing non-virtual customer calls.
- First, the majority of companies will not let anyone who is not screened as safe in their buildings
- All of us have gained multiple hours a day by working virtually. For me, it's >15 hours a week.
- Our prospects, our customers and our associates have told us that the effectiveness is better.
- Even with today's Zoom/Teams technologies, we are still in the infancy of what will come shortly.
When one then looks at last week's Massachusetts survey data of both what the current situation has been during the summer, and what the leaning is for even in a post-vaccine world, it's clear...at least to me...that there's simply no "going back", to many of the outdated sales and marketing practices of 2019, but only leaping forward.
This data below is for all employees, of course. My expectation is that salespeople will be higher percentages given their successful virtual experiences during the past six months.
What does it mean to me here in September?
I spent lots of time and gigabytes of space over the last six months blogging, speaking at webinars, and consulting with our customers about the theories and the concepts of what this environment will mean and then driving words into actions getting down into the specifics of implementing changes in both Sales and Marketing. Today, my summary is that the basic concepts remain the same, and since you've heard them before from me, I will spare you the details on the pillars of...
- Forget about strategy and focus only on tactics and activities in playbooks and battle cards.
- Plan in short bursts of 90 and 120 days...and then do it again
- Embrace change, experiment, measure the results, and either stop or build some more
Planning for the fall:
Every "normal" summer, I rewrite the content for my courses at Tufts and MIT. Typically, I edit 25% of the content of case studies, research and classroom material from the prior semester. This summer, I just scrapped everything and started over, which took me half of July and all of August. The prior HBR case studies were no longer relevant, the tactical experiments made no sense and the overall content just seemed "old and outdated".
I also spent time updating our Writing the Winning Business Plan and Writing the Winning Sales Plan ebooks even though I had gone through the process of an extensive rewrite back in January. Take a look and let me know what you think.
Since we believe strongly that true success in any business needs to have the very best in Marketing and Sales processes, tools, and people, we're very excited to be part of two upcoming informative, highly tactical and fun events. Dial in and connect to these highly tactical and timely events:
- Providence Chamber of Commerce Sales Boot Camp-6 Strategies for Success
Two full mornings on September 21st & 22nd plus individual call-in times later that week.
Hosted by our close friends at the Chamber. Very low price, very high value! Check it out!
- Selling & Marketing in a Covid World
9:00-10:30, September 22nd.
Hosted by our close friends at Katz, Nannis & Solomon. Very high value! Check it out!
Have a great day selling today as we move forward into embracing the changes this fall will bring!
Confidential sounding board
If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board in business planning or for Sales or Marketing, just connect with me at any time. Text or email me, and I will quickly set up a call.
I'm a pretty good listener. Obviously, no cost for a call or two; just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.
Be safe, positive and have a great week!