(reading time: 4 minutes)
It seems like every time you turn around, there is change in the org structure or another round of hiring and firing.
But besides from the headcount and team players always being in flux, the way we do sales is also continuously evolving.
The introduction of mobile phones made sales a 24/7 job by literally allowing salespeople to conduct business anywhere, at anytime. Managers today have grown to expect an around the clock online presence from their reps.
The latest technology has also completely reshaped our sales life. With the emergence of artificial intelligence, salespeople now have their CRMs (like Spiro’s Proactive CRM) helping them do the data entry and proactively reminding them who to call next.
All of this got me to thinking about the future. And about sales leaders in particular. What will sales leadership look like in 10, 20, or 100 years?
Sales Leaders of the Past
If you were a salesperson in my parent’s generation things looked a lot different. Those were the days when cold calling meant a phone book and a desk. If you were selling dog food, you’d open up to the Pet Store section in the yellow pages and hit the phones. A rolodex was probably your “CRM” back then to help alphabetically organize your contacts.
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There was no system for managers to track how many calls their reps were completing. It was important for sales managers to physically be present in the office, motivating their team to make more calls and staying on task.
Weekly one-on-ones were the chance for sales managers to hear about where deals stood and try to manually build out a forecast. There were no dashboards, or even email!
Fast forward to when I started out in sales. Although we used most of the same tactics to contact leads and close deals, the invention of the mobile phone meant a bit more flexibility. We weren’t tied to our desks, in fear of missing a call back from a prospect.
Sales managers also had more tools to help them stay on top of their reps’ deals. Quotas were tracked in Excel, and communication about deals could now be done via email.
The Sales Leader Role of Today
Today, the flow of a sales cycle is still virtually the same. Although, how we generate leads and move prospects through the process has been drastically shaped by technology. Using social media to make prospecting connections is a whole new world. Most every salesperson these days utilizes artificial intelligence in some way – to qualify leads, to alert them who to call, and to seamlessly sync all their systems.
As for sales manager today, I can’t imagine running an efficient sales team without the use of technology. Let’s start with the most basic – the invention of the CRM. Having a centralized database that can manage all of your reps’ prospects and customers has simplified and organized the sales world.
Managers need to be able to see what deals their reps are working on, and easily create a forecast. CRMs today are pre-loaded with live dashboards and reports that allow managers to view where they stand on all of their KPIs.
AI has positively affected the sales manager’s role by helping them save time, save money, increase effectiveness, and adding an increased level of accuracy to forecasting.
Sales Leaders of the Future
In the year 2117, what will sales reps and sales leaders be doing?
(Side note: we’re taking a semi-humorous take on this, so don’t call me up in 2117 if this doesn’t come true.)
Think of how much AI has infiltrated our lives in the past few years. Now image how much will change in 100 years! If you take the “robots taking over the world” apocalyptic connotations out of it, thinking of what the future holds can be pretty exciting for sales.
Here are 4 ways sales leaders jobs could change in 100 years:
1. Weekly manager/rep one-on-ones will be a thing of the past
Brain-to-brain communication will negate the necessity for weekly one-on-ones. Instead of reps emailing their boss where deals stand, or having the manager view a report in their CRM, the manager will telepathically know what deals each salesperson is working on.
A sales manager will receive brain to brain messages from their reps as deals move along the sales cycle. A deal falling through the cracks? You’re CRM will know to alert you of this through computer-human brain waves. Now that’s what I call a Proactive CRM!
2. Sandbagging the sales manager will increase
Where there is brain communicating, there is bound to be brain blocking.
As soon as spam emails appeared on the scene, someone figured out how to create a spam filter. It’s just a natural reaction to put up your hand when someone throws a punch.
This will mean sales managers may be at greater risk in the future to be sandbagged. Reps will be able to block their brain waves and keep some deals from being telepathically transferred to their manager.
3. Hiring and managing will become easier
I’ve often said that “great salespeople come from a different gene pool.” They are good listeners, they can easily build rapport, they are genuine…the list goes on.
In the future, this will literally be true!
The hiring process for sales leaders will be quite easy. I’m sure in the next 100 years, we will have identified what DNA makes a superstar salesperson. Managers can simply collect a blood sample, have it tested for this marked DNA. BAM, that concludes the interview process.
Once the team is stacked with efficient and effective salespeople, sales leaders will be able to manage hundreds of people, since those superstar reps will know how to close deals with little or no assistance.
4. Sales territories will grow
As the population continues to grow, and global warming changes the topography of the Earth, sales territories will also change and grow.
Sales managers will be leading a team in Antarctica and the Lunar colonies. We will have to come up with new time zones for reps selling on the moon, which will throw off all of the automated email campaigns (but that’s Marketing’s problem…)