VP Analyst, Dave Egloff and I recently published a deck that boiled down the broader conversation Gartner is having across functions on the Future of Work Reinvented for our Sales Leadership clients. The aim was to shine a light on the pieces of the model that we felt had higher relevance for CSOs and their teams: Digital Enablement, Rethinking the Workplace, and Shifting Talent & Skills.
Workplace Strategies in Focus:
From Gartner’s 2020 B2B Digital Commerce Survey, it became clear to us that in just a few short years, B2B sales interactions will occur within digital channels the vast majority of the time (forecast 80% by 2025). In an even shorter span, more than half of procuring organizations (buyers!) will conduct even complex purchases through online channels (59% by 2023). As a result, commercial leaders must make plans to prepare their teams to sell (and address their desire to sell) in a potentially foreign environment where digital-first skills and behaviors become much more valued.
As the Great Resignation continues to develop, we’ll surely find that large portions of existing field, inside, and virtual sales teams will seek greener pastures…. many as a result of a lack of ambition to adapt their tenured selling style to a digital world. This trend will be even more pronounced if their organizations and leadership do not take action quickly to increase their ability to adapt through more appropriate tools, resources, data, and training.
Optimize work through technologies and practices to improve the short-term transition and to promote longer-term prosperity.
Thus, in order to enable our selling teams digitally (including indirect partners!!), we’ll need to:
- (Re)Map the digital customer buying journey
- Invest in better data and tech to facilitate new behaviors
- Create consistency across the digital footprint of the organization with Sales actively participating
- Go beyond the standard Zoom/WebEx/Teams videoconferences to more interactive, collaborative, and asynchronous collaboration venues… like Digital Sales Rooms!
Rethinking the Workplace:
Help leaders create a workplace strategy for the postpandemic, hybrid work era.
Obviously, as leaders of selling we’ll need to think about a more hybrid physical workplace for our teams… at least in some cases. But, possibly more importantly, we’ll need to consider those factors for our customer stakeholders as well… and figure out how to make buying easier with hybrid buying groups researching and decisioning independently, asynchronously, and virtually more often than not.
So, the decisions before sales leaders here revolve around:
- Reassessment of the ROI of seller travel
- Territory design
with new low/no travel assumptions and rep-free purchasing
- Capacity/sizing constraints and updates
- Buyer engagement models based on highly varied co-location of purchasing groups
Shifting Talent & Skills:
Analyze the skills and competencies employees will need in the digital future and how enterprises can acquire or train workers in these skills.
Lastly, sales role competencies must evolve to meet the buyer preferences for digital interactions we are observing. Sellers need greater confidence in technology utilization, sense making behaviors, and addressing nuanced thinking with greater grasp of buyers’ context.
To accomplish this, a focus on ‘must have’ skills such as digital dexterity, data literacy, and virtual customer engagement would be highly beneficial when considering investments in enablement and training. Competency models, job descriptions, hiring guides, development plans should be updated accordingly. Managers’ approaches to hiring, onboarding, and coaching will need to conform with the times. Performance management and compensation/incentives will need to be brought into alignment.
The moral of the story here is, as leaders of selling in a new hybrid workplace requiring digital prowess… we’ve got a lot to talk about! The best start is to get these concepts in front of your teams and gather their perspectives on where the biggest gaps reside.
Gartner clients can download the associated research deck here: The Future of Work Reinvented for Chief Sales Officers