This has left many of us in the Marketing & Sales community wondering where we go from here. How will our profession change in the decade ahead? And more importantly, what can we do to remain competitive on the job market and effective in our work?
We recently spoke with two long-time experts in the fields of Marketing and Sales: Mark Appel, Chief Marketing Officer at CM.com, and David White, Director of CM.com in North America, who gave us some tips on how Sales and Marketing teams can gear up for the future.
The Human Factor Is the Key to Winning the Future
“If I look at all the roles within the Marketing team now, I think they will all continue to exist, but I do think that the emphasis will shift to other things as a result of technology becoming even more important,” says Mark.
Technologies will soon completely take over many of our routine tasks like forecasting, developing sales channel strategies, post-sales follow-ups, and admin. Thanks to data-driven technologies, which will help businesses align more closely with their markets, the lines between Marketing and Sales will become increasingly blurred. Marketing will become more sales-driven, even as Sales becomes more reliant on marketing.
These developments mean we’re all going to be free to focus our attention on different ways of adding value. And this is where our uniquely human qualities, such as creativity, curiosity, empathy, and people skills, are going to make all the difference.
“Sales professionals need to evolve continually. They need to look at responsibilities and positions that can’t be replaced with artificial intelligence or machine learning or an API call,” says David.
Considering the integral role new technologies will play, the best Marketing and Sales pros will be the ones who master what we call “hybrid” skills: balancing tech skills with uniquely human skills.
The Top 5 “Hybrid” Skills for Sales & Marketing in 2030
It might sound like we’re talking about cyborgs or things out of a sci-fi movie. But these hybrid skills, mixing tech and human capabilities, are very real, and they’re only going to become more important going forward.
Here are five hybrid skills that should be at the top of all our professional development plans right now.
#1. Technical Skills
Future Sales and Marketing professionals will need to adapt to new systems and adopt them quickly. At a minimum, they’ll need to be at home using enterprise software such as a CRM. Yet the field is rapidly expanding to include other technologies that will soon shape our everyday work lives, from communications to analytics and the way we create and manage campaigns.
All of this makes it important for Sales and Marketing teams to have knowledge of APIs, software integrations, and new tooling. These technical skills will become as essential in the future as product knowledge and soft skills.
Lastly, as order-taking becomes fully automated, your value as a salesperson will lie in your ability to serve as a partner and advisor to your customer.
“If you’re in Sales, you’ve really got to do some reflecting and bring some added value to the table. Simply communicating product features will not be enough,” says David.
#3. Digital Presentation Skills
Virtual meetings are here to stay—even after the pandemic. For Sales professionals, this will mean polishing your digital presentation skills and learning to use virtual meeting technologies to your advantage.
To ensure the right skills, organizations need to offer training on everything from creating a Zoom-friendly presentation to set up the right lighting conditions for your video calls.
#4. Creative Data Analysis
As our jobs become increasingly data-driven, data analysts will climb to the top of the job market. But the data analysis of the future will be more of a creative role than it is today.
According to Mark, “The trick will be learning the right things from all this data. And that requires creative analysts who know which data they need and how to extract meaningful insights from it.”
The ability to recognize buyer behaviors and target customers at precisely the right moments will become a highly sought-after skill.
#5. UX/CX Expertise
As products become increasingly commodified and standardized, offering a unique experience is the only way companies can stand out in the future.
“The companies that will win are the ones who offer their customers the smoothest onboarding, who offer proactive service, who are easy to contact… That means customer experience,” says Mark.
For Sales and Marketing teams, this will mean listening more closely to our customers’ needs and pain points and thinking of creative ways to address them.
Focusing on Where We Add the Most Value
We can all look forward to plenty of exciting tech-driven developments in the years ahead. Yet our real competitive advantage will lie in the human skills that no robot can ever replace. This will only become more important as the major trend towards increased product personalization reaches new heights.
Now and in the future: Curiosity, expertise, and strong customer relations skills are among your strongest tools.