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January 20, 2011

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2012: The Enterprise Sales Apocalypse?

You don’t have to look to the Mayan calendar for signs of the Apocalypse for field organizations selling and supporting enterprise software solutions.  Instead, I would point you to the product release schedule of leading enterprise platforms like Salesforce.com, Oracle and Microsoft, and the speed at which they are moving core revenue-generating applications to the Cloud.

Consequently, I think it wise that Outside Sales Professionals, System Engineers, and Regional Managers, take the necessary steps to adapt their skills to fit future B2B recurring revenue models. 

As I’ve watched the software-as-a-service (SaaS) market evolve, it has become clear to me that once specific elements of the “cloud universe” align, the need for armies of expensive outside sales teams will rapidly erode.

Particularly, I have been monitoring the orbits of the following:

  1. Enterprise Market: enterprise acceptance of the cloud as mission critical 
  2. Market leaders: major platform co’s shifting to meet demand
  3. Pricing Models: resulting price reductions
  4. Liability: extinction of perpetual agreements
  5. Customer Engagement: customer preference for virtual/real time engagement

I’m sure we could debate each of these items; however, if you follow B2B software trends, you’ll agree that we are moving closer to this astronomical event - every day.

I am not suggesting that outside organizations are on the verge of immediate extinction, nor am I promoting tenure for inside reps.  I’m simply making the point that as the enterprise moves more and more of its mission critical apps to the cloud; software companies will not only migrate their solutions, but their entire sales, marketing and support models. 

Making the leap will required field personnel to adopt the proficiency of inside sales representatives to become what I refer to as a Hybrid Rep; someone who has the expertise and required skill to navigate the enterprise, carry an established network of influencers and decision makers, yet demonstrate stellar phone-skills, the ability to leverage 2.0 tools, and engage in social media.

Most importantly, many will need to realize that given the decrease in average deal size found within this subscription world, along with the limited (time) commitment required by customers; that quotas and compensation will also evolve, inversely impacting on-target-earnings.

So if you’re out there tonight reading this post, sitting in that all too familiar regional jet; turn your gaze upwards, through the clouds, and into the stars, and ask yourself if you’re ready for this new Cloudy Universe and all of the challenge that it will bring.

Because unlike some fantastical movie or crazy prediction, this change is real, it’s upon us and worlds will collide.

-- Tom Scontras, VP Sales & Marketing, Glance Networks

>> Come hear Tom talk about Sales 2.0 at the AA-ISP's Inside Sales 2011 San Francisco, Feb. 10


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