The Sales Review

Digital Disruption Will Lead To Extinction For Analog Sales Leaders

Written by Daniel Ku | Nov 27, 2017 7:05:03 PM

With the rapid change in the B2B sales landscape, being a sales leader today is more difficult than ever. The statement “sales has changed more in the past 10 years than in the past 100 years" couldn't be more true than now.

Just last year, MIT and HBR jointly interviewed more than 1,000 CEOs for their research and found that “90% of executives believe their businesses are being disrupted or reinvented by digital business models, and 70% believe they do not have the right skills, leader, or operating structure to adapt. It’s not a good position to be in.”

How can a sales leader become more digitally-driven especially since their customers are more ahead of the digital curve?

Firstly, sales leadership has to realize we are in a digital era and embrace it. According to Deloitte, companies should embrace what they label as digital congruence — culture, people, structure, and tasks which are aligned with each other so that executives can effectively address the challenges of a constantly changing digital landscape.

Analog Versus Digital Sales Leader

The analog sales leader has his or her sales force dedicated to hitting the phones and closing as fast as possible. On the opposite side, the digital sales leader understands it’s not a linear sales process anymore, instead it is a multi-directional buying journey.

This is no fault of the analog sales leader, they are just a mere reflection of the era and culture they’ve grown accustomed to. This culture involves a focus on pushing product into markets and tailoring message around product features. While the digital sales leader shares commercial insights with the market and is a customer-centric. Delivering value and education to buyers is a leading driver for a digital sales leader.

Align With Emerging Technology

As a sales leader, you have to to be cognizant of emerging technology but technology alone doesn’t drive strategy, culture, people or process.

There are numerous technologies available today, such as Artificial Intelligence that will fundamentally change selling behaviour. For example, AI can provide the seller insights and at the buyer level, it’ll provide the right metrics in order to manage your business. Organizations must enable sales leadership to be in a position to manage quality decisions based on metrics not hunches.

For a sales 1.0 leader to lead a growingly younger sales force is like running up a downwards elevator. As Jim Dickie, Co-Founder and Independent Research Fellow of CSO Insights put it, “If I’ve got a 3.0 salesforce, reporting to sales management 1.0, I have a recipe for failure.”

Digital must be ingrained into the sales organization's DNA.

Deepening The Company’s Skills

Millennials are slated to be the largest group in the workforce, as stated by Deloitte, 75% of the global workforce by 2025, want to work for organizations that foster innovative thinking, develop their skills, and make a positive contribution to society.

Sales leaders must understand how to automatically recruit and enable both the older generation who have a strong business acumen and Millennials, who excel naturally with digital and technology.

Recommended Content: How Millennials In Sales Are Shifting Current Leadership Methods

One insightful difference for a digitally-driven company is their focus on deepening the company’s skills. According to Deloitte’s report on “Aligning the Organization for Its Digital Future” they that digitally maturing companies are more than five times more likely to provide employees with the opportunities to develop needed digital skills than are early-stage companies (76% versus 14%).

Ingraining Digital In The DNA

It’s undeniable how much of a force digital actually is.

The wave of digital isn’t a fashion fad, it’s a turn of the tides on how sales organizations and companies operate. With the turn of a new tide, new core competencies are necessary to ensure digital runs deep into a company’s DNA.

With an overwhelming amount of emerging sales technology available, a digitally-driven sales leader must resist the temptation to find the next new tool. Rather, look to technology to complement the strategy and to focus on optimizing efficiency. Having a social media profile just simply isn't enough, digital is how modern sales organizations will prosper.

Are you analog or are you digital sales leader?