Sales Jobs of the Future

Last Updated Oct 28, 2011 5:39 PM EDT

In my recent post "Sales Jobs: Not Just Hunters and Farmers" I provided some observations about the future of selling based upon research conducted at The Chally Group.

I received a dozen requests for more information about the change roles of sales professionals, so here is a brief description of the kind of roles that are evolving today, and will become even more common in the future.

NOTE: The key concept behind that post (and this one) is encapsulated in the following figure (CLICK to see full size):

Here are the job roles:


  • Indirect Sales. Must be able to train channels (resellers and distributors) on sales and programs, make joint sales calls, motivate channel partner through presentations and conversation, provide product knowledge as necessary and maintain repeat sales through the channel.
  • Strategic Account Manager. Must be able to develop leads, find opportunities, penetrate prospect and customer accounts. Requires long hours of communication and account development, as well as problem solving and the ability to bring opportunities to a close.
  • New Business Development (aka "Hunter"). Demands individuals who can develop leads, find opportunities, penetrate prospects and customers, and be willing to put in long hours as well as problem solve and close.
  • Account Management (aka "Farmer"). Requires excellent customer relations, skills focused on working internal systems on the customer's behalf, and effectiveness at explaining and clarifying issues to the customer; this is driven by the desire to increase business and the ability to work long hours when necessary to accomplish that.
  • Territory Consultative Product Sales. Focuses on establishing a credible image, developing new business through effective qualifying and presentation skills driven by the motivation to be an effective consultant
  • Territory Relationship Product Sales. Calls for a disciplined and systematic approach to goal achievement and a focused response to customer needs in a service capacity, as well as effective communication skills and the ability to work a sales plan in account penetration; removes objections and gives permission to buy.
  • Territory Consultative System Sales. Demands the skill to develop business through effective lead generation, qualification of profitable prospects, and tailored presentations; willing to work long hours to meet objectives, sets ambitious goals and achieves them through effective selling, and understands sales strategies and tactics.
  • Territory Relationship System Sales. Adapts image to accommodate customers, gives personal attention, and takes hands-on responsibility for assuring continued customer satisfaction; knowledgeable of sales strategies and pushes to set personal records in sales; comfortable with the recognition of a high-profile role.
  • System Specialist. Focuses on assuming the leadership to learn customer needs and goals, stays continuously aware of the market and spends the long hours it takes to influence and train others.
  • Product/Service Specialist. Customers look for individuals who provide reliable information, learn their business, know the market, and communicate effectively while remaining dedicated to their own sales results.
  • Product/Transactional Specialist. Demands initiative and perseverance to develop leads, qualify, and close on an ongoing basis.
  • Outbound Telesales. Takes the initiative to present benefits and answer objections in order to grow the business; willing to learn the products and services; can persevere for as long as necessary to succeed.
  • Inbound Telesales. Requires an image conscious vocal demeanor in a service oriented individual who is interested in learning the customer's needs, solving problems, and making the appropriate (and profitable) recommendations
  • Customer Service Representative. Calls for a focused commitment to take personal responsibility for satisfying all customers, regardless of their attitude or style; solutions must be intelligently thought out, often quickly, and presented with a positive attitude.
Needless to say, these differentiated roles are more likely to be found inside large companies than small ones, but they definitely represent a movement away from the "jack of all trades" view of the sale professional, and towards a vision of selling that is, well..., more professional.

BTW, I'm working with Howard Stevens, the CEO of Chally, on a book project. Stay tuned and I'll fill you in as the project continues to develop.

RELATED POSTS: READERS: In my new book How to Say It: Business to Business Selling, I provide an easy-to-follow step-by-step system for B2B selling. It's available for pre-sale (and a huge discount) here.
  • Geoffrey James

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