By Krisha Maclang on July 7, 2015
The job landscape has been changing rather quickly these past few years. Our way of life is increasingly dependent on digital technology, which upgrades and innovates seemingly every week.
Now, when people ask you, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” it’s not such an easy and straight-forward question to answer. Entire industries are quickly fading in the blink of an eye. Remember video rental stores? You’ll be lucky to find a single one standing these days.
In their places, new industries and job functions are sprouting like mushrooms. Jobs in app development and social media did not even exist years ago and now they’re the de rigueur jobs for the millennial work force.
Because Kalibrr wants to help you prepare your career path for these rapid changes, we’re giving you a glimpse into the future landscape of sales and marketing to see what the industry will be like in a few years.
Keeping Sales Human
The sales industry is traditionally a people-oriented industry as sales professionals must constantly deal with vendors, clients and the like. The challenge that aspiring salespeople face is keeping the industry human in the face of an increasingly modernized workplace. Minter Dial, president of The Myndset Company, tackled this problem in his Business Insider article, “5 Ways Sales Can Stay Human While The Rest Of A Company Automates.”
- Great personalities and self-starters will rule
In the face of rapid changes in the workplace, a personable attitude is a key element of a successful salesperson. Aspiring salespersons must know how to breathe life into the brand as they carry it with them wherever they go. Sales people embody the brand they work for and must be able to bring value not just to the brand but to his or her clients as well.
They must also be very proactive. He or she must not wait for things to start working for him or her, but must make things happen. The world will move at an even quicker pace so if a new skill or technology will benefit his or her bottom line then, he or she must take it up on himself or herself to learn it.
- The customer is at the center
The customer experience must feel personal and specifically catered to them. Traditionally independent departments within a company, such as sales, marketing, retail, and customer service, must work together in such a way that customers always feel like they are talking to only one person, even with the abundance of customer channels. While the online and offline customer relationship management (CRM) system for this will understandably be more complicated, the pay-off will make it worth it.
- Increased demand for real-time support
In the future, the speed and availability of connectivity will be even better than as we know it today. Because of this, there will be an increased demand for real-time support and information from sales people. They want to be able to rely on the sales person for important information whenever they want it. Aspiring sales people must be open and willing to provide support and make information manageable for the customer.
Organizations must be able to support its sales teams with the proper training, knowledge management systems and tools to accommodate the needs of the customers while in the field. It must be a unified effort to provide the customer the needed support the instant it’s needed.
- Leverage not just the product but also the brand’s value
The fact is the products being sold these days and in the future are all startlingly similar. Brand A, B, or C of detergents will all probably clean your clothes but what makes the customer choose one brand over the other? Brands must continue to find ways to differentiate themselves from competitors.
The key is in data and market research. The sales team must work in tandem with the marketing department to determine the most effective sales pitch that will truly tell the brand’s story in a way that customers will find valuable to them.
- A new era for sales managers
A sales manager’s traditional role is to keep an eye out for his or her team’s sales numbers, ensuring that each of them reaches their quotas. But sales departments of the future will choose to flatten the hierarchy so there will be less supervision by sales managers.
The future sales manager will function as more of a mentor, providing coaching and support to his sales team in the field. He or she will find ways to improve his team’s networking, communications skills, and access to information and training to optimize their skills as sales persons.
Marketing for millennials and beyond
The challenge for future marketers is finding ways to relate to and communicate with consumers amidst the flurry of available media channels and published content. Marketing experts who are part of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list gave Jeff Beer of Co.Create their predictions for marketing strategies in 2020.
- Mobile connectivity all day every day
If you think that you can’t get any more obsessed with your smartphone, then you’re wrong. The marketing industry knows that our lives are essentially dependent on that tiny piece of metal that’s constantly in our hands. According to Linda Boff of General Electric, we’re probably even going a step beyond by being constantly connected to just about anything: TVs, cars, wearables, everything!
Aspiring marketing professionals should work on finding ways to seamlessly integrate branded content into our daily lives through these mobile platforms. Chris Brandt, Chief Marketing Officer of Taco Bell, predicts that marketing will continue to become an on-going conversation with consumers so if you want to get into the marketing industry, you have to know how to stay relevant to every single person in the conversation via different mobile touchpoints.
- Data is and forever will be key
Brands need data to truly get inside the minds and hearts of their consumers. Data is a crucial centerpiece of marketing as it gives brands or agencies crucial insight to what consumers want or need. Consumers will only listen if you say something they want to hear. Matt Jarvis of 72andSunny says that the key is finding ways to use data to stay relevant in consumers’ lives by helping them fulfill their passions and goals.
Meanwhile Alex Hesz of adam&eveDDB predicts that future applications of metadata are practically endless. Some examples are more accurate and up-to-date, like public health measurements and minimized food waste facilitated by signals emitted by refrigerators which optimize the supply food chain. If you plan on getting a start in marketing, a high level of understanding of data and its place in marketing strategy is essential.
- Interactive storytelling trumps hard selling
The days of one-way communication between brand and consumers are over. Blatantly telling consumers “Buy this!” won’t cut it anymore. Everyone loves a compelling story so the future of marketing includes immersive storytelling content to capture and sustain consumers’ attention.
Brandt says that people want to be included in the conversation and in fact, will want to take part in generating content and not just receive it. The ways in which content will be shared will also diversify so aspiring marketers must learn how to capitalize on the different forms of media, such as videos, long form content, online communities, etc. Boff adds that one day, virtual reality will become a normal part of storytelling and will definitely make the experience much more immersive and compelling for consumers.
- Agencies must evolve or die
Agencies must learn to keep up with the changes and evolve or risk becoming irrelevant. With all of the available channels connecting brands to their consumers, what role do agencies play in the future?
Jarvis believes that agencies are here to stay because they will continue to foster relationships between brands and artists. But Hesz predicts that the traditional agency model must not just adapt but also innovate in the face of these changes. Brandt adds that agencies must learn to integrate the digital and creative aspects of marketing and effectively execute it across all channels in a timely manner.
Meanwhile, Spencer Baim of Vice Media sees future creative minds walking away from agencies and towards creative departments of tech and media companies where they can do more with various platforms.
Overall, the future of the sales and marketing industry is noticeably more personal and more open to information and communication between the brand and customers. Whether you choose to join the sales or marketing side, the challenge for future sales and marketing professionals is to find ways to bridge the gap between brand and customers.