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The sales force of the future requires strong support from HR says Deloitte


12 December 2012: The emergence of a multichannel environment has created the need for a different kind of sales force and strong support from Human Resources (HR) according to professional services firm Deloitte. 

In the global report ‘Human Capital trends 2012: Leap ahead’, Deloitte highlights how the internet has made customers demand more, have unprecedented access to product and pricing information and have the ability to make purchases at the touch of a button.

Nicky Wakefield, Deloitte Consulting Human Capital partner, has found in this technology-driven, multichannel environment that it is hard for traditional salespeople to deliver the full value that more informed customers expect and organisations require, in order to stay ahead of the competition.

“As buyers demand more for their money, there are increasing pressures to reduce costs. Organisations that are pursuing rapid growth are shifting their sales focus towards emerging markets, which are widely viewed as the primary engine for future revenue and profits,” said Ms Wakefield.

“These new challenges and complexities are giving rise to a new way of selling and a new kind of sales force — a shift that has HR implications ranging from talent strategies and organisation design to learning and development, compensation, governance and change management,” said Ms Wakefield.

The report identified how the current transformation in selling is happening faster than most business leaders predicted just a few years ago. It will ultimately touch nearly all aspects of the sales organisation — from the type of talent that is acquired and developed, to the way people are organised, governed, and rewarded.

“Achieving this future vision will require HR leaders who understand front-line sales issues, the customer experience, and the particular DNA required for the sales force of the future.” added Ms Wakefield.

The report noted that making the leap to the sales force of tomorrow requires strong support from HR. Many core elements of sales force effectiveness have stood the test of time and remain a key focus such as improved customer segmentation, skill set development, and sales support.

The report also identified eight key focus areas where leading HR organisations are developing the sales force to improve performance:

  1. Different talent for a different way of selling; Many companies are choosing to hire a different breed of sales rep for high-value roles.
  2. New skills and competencies; To be effective in this more challenging environment, sales reps need to learn and develop new skills.
  3. New organisational structures that foster collaboration; Many leading HR organisations are helping to develop new structures that foster team selling and cross-channel coordination.
  4. Rewards and incentives that drive the desired behaviours; New compensation models should balance short-term sales wins with longer-term relationship development.
  5. Governance that balances control and flexibility; Many leading companies are developing governance structures and internal controls that manage risk and rogue behaviour without stifling innovation and initiative.
  6. Stronger integration across channels and functions; These days, more and more customers are buying goods and services without interacting with a sales rep.
  7. Effective sales management; Skilled sales managers coordinate the various aspects of the sales process and allocate resources to improve results.
  8. Overcoming resistance to change; The new approach to selling is fundamentally different and requires new behaviours and new ways of thinking.

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Jane Kneebone
Deloitte Australia
Job Title:
Director, Corporate Affairs & Communications
Tel: +61 3 9671 7389, Mobile: +61 416 148 845
David Brown
Deloitte Consulting
Job Title:
Human Capital Leader
Tel: +61 2 9322 7481




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