35% of Amazon's revenue is generated from their recommendation engine. That's because they have developed sophisticated algorithms to predict interests and buying behavior. Not just for people in general, but for you specifically.
You've surely noticed that your Google searches will generate completely different popup ads than the same searches done by other people. Google knows who you are and what your interests are, thanks to Artificial Intelligence, AI.
While these are interesting and, on some level helpful recommen-dations, we are seeing just a peek at our future. Machines will increasingly be "Hacking Humans" to not just predict, but also manipulate our thinking and behavior. And doing it in ways we are barely conscious of.
Even now, not only can you look up prospect information on LinkedIn,
you can get a snapshot personality profile that will predict which type of marketing message they might respond to. What do you think will happen when the A.I. processing power is 100 times more powerful and the algorithms 100 times more sophisticated? What's going to happen when SalesForce starts providing psychographic insights on how to sell every contact person in your sales pipeline?
Sales is Moving Outside - In
Industry pundits have been predicting the "Death of Field Sales" for several years. It's true the number of "salespeople" has declined by nearly 50% in the past ten years, but this is mostly due to losses in retail sales. What's going on in IT sales?
What's really changing is the ROLE of the salesperson. Outside Sales is dropping dramatically, but specialized sales and marketing roles are exploding in number and importance.
Outside salespeople are getting fewer, older, grayer, and richer. While $1 Million GP used to be the benchmark for sales achievement, it's not uncommon to see top salespeople producing $5-10 Million GP, and EARNING $1 Million. Fewer people selling more.
For a radical view of the future of sales, take a look at "The Machine", by Justin Roff-Marsh, He advocates only a SINGLE outside salesperson for most businesses under $50M in sales, with a supporting cast of up to 15 inside salespeople, account managers, schedulers, and technical specialists,
What will the rest of the salespeople be doing? Scheduling appointments, researching accounts, generating contracts, nurturing prospects, handling transactional sales, managing existing customers, configuring solutions, and more.
Rise of Sales Process
There's a simple way to tell how good an organization's sales process is. Measure the productivity gap between the top, medium, and bottom performers, and compare how wide the spread is. The better the sales process is, the less important individual talent and skill will be.
Every organization will, of course, have better and worse performers in every role. However, if your sales conversion
process is good, the gap between good-better and best will be reasonably small. Think a McDonald's counter clerk. The top cashier probably processes 30-40% more than average, and the bottom performers that much less. Not that big a difference, really.
Contrast that with a typical IT Sales organization. The gap between the top and bottom is infinite, because the bottom people sell bupkes and the top people sell in the Millions in GP $$ or Hundreds of Thousands in MRR $$.
That's because the process sucks and the training sucks and the personal development sucks. It takes a superhuman to thrive in that type of environment. Most top-performing salespeople in this business are long-time survivors. They manage to figure out how to thrive in any process, no matter how stupid, ineffective, sadistic, and harebrained it may be.
"I sell 30% more than average, and earn minimum wage"
"I sell 1,000% more than average, and earn 7 figures"
The rise of sales process is a very good thing, and it's driven by two things:
- the adoption of automation tools such as SalesForce and ConnectWise, which impose a step-by-step orthodoxy to sales process
- Implementation of Marketing Automation Stacks that drive consistency to the customer engagement process.
This means, long term, the halcyon days of high individual sales and incomes may be nearing an end, replaced by processes and tools and algorithms.
But in the Meantime:
- There's never been a better time to be in sales
- If IT sales were easy, no owner would need or want to pay anyone big money to do it
- Thank God the IT Sales business is hard