Hourglass Buying

In similar vein to there now being a ‘skills shortage’ – which I know worries those desperately seeking new sales hires today – I’m reminded of the existence of the hourglass economy.

Here’s a 2014 quote from a then global supplier of workers, hinting at their sector’s onrushing “candidate shortage”;

“The middle level is being disrupted through technology. Where once we had big layer of management, advanced data is removing the call for them. We don’t need clever and experienced people making decisions when big data can tell you the same answer: I’ve seen it in practice with massive demand for skills in big data and automation.”

Reminiscent of the early- to mid-90s decimation of middle management under the banner, BPR (that era’s technology-enabled fad, Business Process Re-engineering), this “phenomenon that we have seen for several years now is the disappearance of mid-skilled jobs, which is leading to a hollowing out of the labour market”.

From the gig economy explosion one end to scramble for engineers, commercial screwdrivers and project managers at the other. Few can be left untouched.

Even (we solution) salespeople may maintain our niche, facing down the rise of the sellbots. Recruiter Monster put this down in part to our clan’s attractive “originality, flexibility and management skills”. Phew. But let’s not get complacent…

What interests me here is the ‘hollowing out’.

We are suffering ever-less engagement with potential buyers. At critical junctures they are making decisions without our personal input. Especially at problem acceptance, project scoping and longlist identification stages early on.

Lead Gen pros talk of bulking up the container that then gets opened into the ‘hopper’. Filling the pre-funnel mechanism.

In the same way the ‘squeezed middle’ are encouraged to either de-, re- or up-skill, ought such logic be applied to our funnel management?

Are our funnels changing shape? Resembling more of a glassblower’s work-in-progress multi-bulbous vessel?

If our flow of potential business is moving into new patterns, then how are we fending off the threat of any hollow hitting?

The classic instruction – ‘you can never have too much on the go’ – has always been guilty of slight misdirection. Yet if we can release the squeeze we will be better off.

Can you identify where it may be? And hatch a plan for forcing a wider path through it?

The drum I bang is to know your process is critical. Focus on the repeatable successes. Spread what works across all your deals. Simple, yet fiendishly difficult to enact…

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