The Future of Professional Selling – Which Road Will You Be Taking?

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This week I have been discussing the future of professional selling (do please scroll down if you missed Monday and Tuesday’s posts)

Next week I am also speaking about the future of professional selling at the Sales 2.0 Conference in London and SMP2013, also in London.

On June 6th, in my regular Top Sales World magazine column, I am going to publish an article which many will find very radical and controversial. Why? Because the sales space has become very protectionist and to a degree, myopic. But I believe it needs saying – and saying now. If you haven’t reserved your copy of the magazine, you can do so here.

Please be assured, I am not predicting “Armageddon”

I do not see a time when there will be no need for professional salesmen and women!

But what I am suggesting is that many sales roles will disappear over the next three to five years, as more and more products and solutions become “commoditized”

My definition of a commodity sale? Let’s keep it simple and say anything that can be purchased with a credit card.

I also believe that whilst those sales professionals operating at a consultative/collaborative/strategic level can anticipate that their significance will increase; most other sales roles will either become unnecessary, or they will move inside – simple economics will determine that, it is not rocket-science, and I am not alone in my thinking …

“Customers everywhere increasingly prefer virtual interactions with sellers. Trend data reveal that sales organizations are shifting resources from outside to inside sales. Inside sales growth is 30% faster than their outside sales counterparts. The number of Inside Sales departments is projected to grow from 800,000, in 2009, to over 2 million in 2013.”

Dave Stein CEO ES Research (You can read the entire post HERE)

“Over the past few decades, selling has changed. The changes have been incremental, giving salespeople time to adjust. Not so today. The degree and speed of change in the sales world over the past two years is revolutionary — in how, why, and when customers buy and, therefore, in how you sell.

Selling has been turned on its head, and sales organizations are trying to catch up. If you have any doubts about the magnitude of change, just think about your level of control over the last major retail purchase you made and multiply that by twenty, and you will have a sense of the revolution in buying that is going on with your customers. The revolution has created a shift of control — away from you as a seller and toward your customer.”

Linda Richardson, Best Selling Author and Founder and Executive Chairwoman of Richardson

“Inside sales has never been more important, and it seems like every minute brings new changes. Keeping up, staffing up, and preparing for the coming year has never been more important — and for that, you need the inside track. Our trend report is 100% accurate — loaded with great advice on tactics, tools and talent that will keep you on track and ahead of the curve.”

Josiane Feigon, President of TeleSmart (Download her FREE Inside Sales Trend Report HERE)

And most radically of all …

“There are currently 18 million sales professionals in the USA, by 2020, there will only be 3.6 million”

Gerhard Gschwandtner, Selling Power

So, with all of that in mind, it is probably an appropriate time to ask ourselves some important questions …

Some surveys project a tremendous reduction in sales jobs so is the need for salespeople declining?

Where will the sales jobs of the future be?

Is sales still a great career path?

Will inside sales be the dominant deployment model of the future?

How should do we determine the “right” sales deployment model for our organization?

As we look at changing our sales deployment model, what are the critical success factors in migrating from one to the other (for example going from field sales to inside sales)?

What are new skills sales professionals need to develop to be successful in the new world of selling?

Is marketing increasing in importance?

Will customer support roles become more significant?

In the future, will customers move straight from the foreplay stage (marketing) to the cigarette (customer support/service) and miss out on the sales interaction altogether via an automated process?

Is it time the sales training industry stopped coaching skills that will soon be irrelevant?

Is the sales training industry keeping up with customer preferences?

So many questions, and I am going to do my very best to answer as many of them as I possibly can – again, if you haven’t subscribed to the Top Sales World magazine, please do so HERE


News: Busy, busy day over at TSW

Excellent new article from Art Sobczak and a challenge? “Look for the Word “Wine” in this Post” There’s also a timely nudge for sales managers from Jim Keenan: “How Long Are You Gonna Give em? [How to Get Rid of Bad Hires?]”

We send our congratulations to Colleen Stanley for penning last week’s Top Sales Article, and also a big pat on the back to everyone who made the Top 10 Sales Articles list for this week.

Tamara Schenk is publicizing her upcoming Academy presentation on June 4th – “Round Pegs in Round Holes” – whoever came up with that title deserves a medal!

And let’s not forget that Dave Kurlan is presenting Module 8 on the Sales Management Academy Level tomorrow “Getting it Right at the Front End”




  1. says

    I absolutely agree that order-taking clerk-style sales jobs will disappear over the next decade (or less), Barbara. I see it demonstrated in the wholesale food industry as broker and distributor reps are replaced by online ordering, and “selling” is replaced by webinars and multimedia presentations. However, there will always be a place for a professional, consultive seller in ANY selling or distribution channel. Be prepared to step up…or step away.

  2. says

    Thank you very much for these brief yet very significant nuggets of wisdom from the high ranks of business and trade industry themselves. I believe it’s still up to you whatever way of professional selling you’d want to use. In the end, it’s you who’d profit the most from your choices.


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