Recently, at an event a speaker said that about one-third of the salespeople would be retiring in the next couple years. I didn't really think anything of it until I was putting some slide decks together for three different sales trainings I am doing.
Then I ran into this graph from pharmaceutical sales, which shows the decline in the number of sales reps.
One, hiring sales talent has never been more challenging. And when your organization mindset is mainly technical, thus the thinking is that sales and marketing are necessary evils tied to overhead, it will be even more challenging to hire and retain sales talent.
Two, retaining sales talent will be even harder ESPECIALLY when you change the compensation plan. Salespeople hate it when you change the comp plan. And those changes never benefit us.
Three, the indirect channel will become more significant for companies as the means to sales growth. Soon the channel partners - especially those with defined target industries - will be sitting in the catbird seat.
Four, service providers looking for a quick (sales) fix from the channel will find it elusive. Why? The channel is being hounded to sell for every service provider that can get their contact info. (How many booths at CPExpo? Over 125? How many booths at ITEXPO? Over 150? That's how many SP's are chasing channel partners!)
Five, service providers ideally would automate sales so that no salespeople were needed. Alas, that is a few years away, except for commodities - with commodity margins. The ROI on a hosted phone system keyword search is more than the 22 months that most customers stay, so automation isn't going to work well.
The common factor is that sales is hard. Salespeople are retiring. New salespeople are difficult to come by. Sales training will have to be put back on the books. And your channel strategy will have to be well thought out (but then you can say that about direct sales strategy too.)