This week we have been examining the current state of play within the sales space - well at least I have - and hopefully you have been reading the words and understanding the philosophy! (Do please scroll down if you have missed any of the posts)
I fully appreciate that there will always be those that are wedded - if not chained - to the status quo, fearful of change, because it is nice and cozy as it is thank you very much. But change is constant, and it is one of the few things that we really can rely on in life: If we accept that premise, then we have two choices - adapt and thrive, or resist and risk perishing.
Good chum Dave Stein of ESR said quite recently that the past three years have witnessed more changes in the sales environment than in the previous fifty, and he is right. But what is going to come in the next three is going to be even more disturbing or exciting - depending on where you are positioned.
This year, I anticipate we will see a reduction in external sales positions of around 20%: 10% will be lost for good, and the other 10% will move inside. I believe that this pattern will continue for the next three years, until we are left with less than 10% of the total sales population working externally.
The reasons for this are obvious: Advances in technology mean that we can communicate just as easily from our desks, using video conferencing etc. Why do we need an expensive outside sales force, with all of the huge financial investment that is required, when the task can be handled far more efficiently - and more profitably?
For years, an inside sales position has been considered as the bottom rung on the sales ladder - their immediate ambition to gain promotion to an outside sales job, with a car and an expense account: An obvious sign to their family and friends that they were "making it" in sales.
Not anymore. Today's breed of inside sales professional is bright, qualified, and well rewarded. Inside sales is now a career, not a mere stepping stone. Their commercial bandwidth is much, much wider, and their skill-sets are at the very least, the equivalent of their "outdoor" colleagues.
How do they fit in with the new overall selling landscape? Actually, what will that landscape look like? What impact is all of this going to have on the 10% of external sales positions that survive?
I will answer all of these questions - and more - in my JF Uncut column in the January Top Sales magazine, which will be published next Tuesday over at Top Sales World