Automation has been the order of the last couple of decades. It has significantly altered the way work is carried out and life is lived. We have been examining how automation alters the job markets and how it impacts various functions in an enterprise. Today, we look at Sales and Marketing.
It has changed a lot!
Marketing automation has been in vogue for a little more than 5 years though it has existed as a concept for the last 25 years. Few large organizations could afford automation in their sales and marketing processes which gave them advantages in sales-force productivity and hence, reduced cost of sales per unit as well as increased sales volume per salesperson. However, with the advent of cloud technologies, mobility, social platforms and analytics, many small businesses have been able to leverage on the technological progress and rev up their sales and marketing engines. Today, we see a pest control agency, a bakery, a beauty salon, a pet clinic and many more such businesses reaching their target audience through Facebook, Whatsapp groups, Hike messenger, Google plus and so on. They are not only trying to reach their target customers but also are communicating how they are uniquey positioned to fulfill their customers’ needs. Some of them have been able to deploy a CRM or a Lead management system; some use emails with pictures and at times, videos! We see them having tied up with multiple listing agencies so that they are found easily; they work with multiple payment gateways so that the customer has a hassle-free way to buy from them. They know what their customer buys and proactively reach out to the customer with offers that make sense to the target audience. They respond to customer queries and comments on the social channels. These methods of engaging with the customer have revolutionised the way sales and marketing happened a decade ago.
Thinking of people who matter!
Someone who aspires to do well in life, irrespective of the size of the business and the role one holds there, needs to understand these changes. Old methods are not going to yield the desired results. Most colleges do not teach what is required on the ground. Hence, one has to observe the way businesses are marketing their products and services; learn the fine nuances so that one is ready to deploy those at work on a day-to-day basis.
After having understood the methods and the typical requirements of the environment to make these methods bear fruit, one has to understand who matters the most in the business. A few years ago, it was the efficiency in delivering a product that determined customer loyalty. But, now we have many other factors which matter. Hence, the skill levels of the people who interface with the stakeholders of a business have become more important than ever before. Enterprises have realized that customer perception about the product is significantly correlated with their experience at each moment-of-truth. This is not only true for the new economy such as service sector but also for the traditional sectors such as manufacturing, industrial goods, commodities and government!
Buyers are tremendously empowered now, thanks to the automation all around. Internet, Smartphones and social media have made information easily available to the buyers. So, they do not need to speak to a salesperson to understand the features, benefits, market standing and price! The salesperson can add value only if s/he is able to help the customer discover his or her needs and show how the company’s offering fulfills the needs the best. And at the same time, he brings the insights back to the team to help design new offerings.
A lot of the traditional channels of sales are getting disrupted in favour of direct interactions with the end-consumer. So, the salesmanship is getting transformed. Clearly, the customer is the king; the warehouse, the retailer, the distributor, the logistics provider and the software provider are no less in the value chain of winning a customer and keeping them loyal to the company!
Actions need to be strategic!
Over a period of time, companies will reduce their salespeople on-ground and increase the number of people who are going to draw market insights, design customised offerings and discounts to customers, develop new business, discover consumer needs and strike strategic deals with channel partners for bundled offerings.
The function of Sales reporting and analysing is being performed largely by machines rather than the human beings. It is going to be outsourced to IT soon!
Product design and development is no more just the product, its packaging and the service network. It is a lot more now – the customer interfaces at each possible touch-point, its presence on various online as well as offline channels and so on. The communication methods have undergone a lot of change. The traditional 4P’s of marketing is getting redefined, thanks to the disruption that automation has brought about!
Marketers are evolving faster than ever before! Interesting times ahead for the companies to transform their organizations to align with the new reality and education institutes to start preparing their students to take on these challenges!