Selling is changing and those leaders who do not keep up will be left behind. The fact that selling is changing is not new in itself. What is new is that there are several key trends converging to create the perfect storm for your sales efforts. Will key retirements slow your business’ growth?
Starting today, I share what I see as the bigger trends impacting your sales and marketing efforts. Over the next two weeks, we continue to layout the key trends impacting your business development efforts.
Then over the next several months, we share practical, implementable strategies that help your sales and marketing team continue to help grow and take your organization to the next level.
An interesting change I see is that many baby boomers are quickly moving towards retirement. Coming from this key retirement trend is the rise of the next generation of professional buyers, their roles and impact changing within their organizations. They have a different outlook on business, as well as specific training and tools in this area. This trend is changing both your and your clients’ businesses forever. Today, I talk about the retirement side, next week I talk about the professional buyers.
Let me share several ideas that you may find interesting. I looked at several of my clients’ executive leadership structures. Through the magic of big data and several great online resources, I checked down several levels into the organization and discovered over 70% of their top two levels of leadership are 60 years old or older.
Now what does this mean to your sales and marketing efforts? To me, it means that I better have significant relationships within this client’s organization as we begin to see their leaders retire. It also means that the long term relationships you may have built within their organization could be gone in the next several years. This puts a tremendous amount of your business at risk.
What else does this mean to the people your selling to? You may have already noticed this trend, but many of the leaders I’ve been working with are seeing their direct reports become more conservative in their decision making. They may try to get your people involved in their sales process to minimize potential damage from a bad decision. By including additional decision makers into the sales process, it now takes longer to get a positive decision.
In many organizations, as their key decision makers retire, the next generation of leadership has a limited exposure to you and your organization. Younger executives are looking to make their presence felt in their leadership teams. This sometimes means ending relationships with organizations they do not feel connected to personally. These younger executives also have a more global approach to sourcing their solutions. They are much more computer savvy. They also have developed extended networks of suppliers who they may know and are more comfortable dealing with. LinkedIn has created significant buyer networks for the next generation of professional buyers and leaders.
These younger leaders understand the critical role collaboration plays in working together with their suppliers. In many cases, if they are working in a purchasing capacity, they have significant training in how to structure a deal that is beneficial for their company. There are significant changes to the market as global competition continues to change your clients’ industry.
On your side of the business, you also have key players on your sales and marketing team moving quickly towards retirement. In many cases, your top sales and marketing professionals are edging toward their retirement. As they move towards their personal goals, they may be more relaxed in developing relationships with individuals who are not going to help them meet their short term goals.
This means that key new business initiatives can be at risk within your best clients. Many older sales professionals who have been cultivating key relationships with economic buyers may not be interested in collaborating with lower level individuals in your client’s organization. Many senior sales executives are not as familiar with how business is changing and this may cause a breakdown of communications with your key customers.
I’ve seen several senior sales professionals struggle with many of the changes in how business is done with younger professionals. Many new purchasing professionals are 55% through the sales process before engaging your sales professional. In many cases, your sales professionals that are used to being involved earlier in the sales process get frustrated with these younger leaders because a sense of entitlement that exists from an incumbent mentality with long term relationships with clients.
As a byproduct of how this younger generation buys, it’s critical to create a marketing strategy that allows your clients to find the critical information that matches your buying process more closely so that your sales professionals can help the clients through their own buying process.
In the past, key accounts did not change hands often because of the long term nature of the relationships between partners. Today, this is changing because of the retirement of key individuals on both sides of the business relationship. Are you prepared to deal with this dramatic change?
See you tomorrow when I talk about a special project you may want to get more involved in. Next Monday, I will share several ideas on understanding the professional buyer of today. I will share several ideas to help you better understand the buyers’ motivations and how they expect to work with their best partners. See you then.