What 44pc of your Sales Skills will you Need to Change?

Whilst not an oracle we ordinarily ought pay particular heed to, the WEF's latest Future of Jobs report features the odd startling prediction.

I guess they'd claim the Fourth Industrial Revolution they heralded seven years back has now accelerated into the public psyche due to the tipping point that is generative AI.

Statistical 'findings' of note to our domain include this quintet;

  • nearly a quarter of all jobs (23%) globally will change in the next five years
  • extrapolating for their surveyed economies 673m workers, a net decrease of 14 million jobs, or 2% of current employment is expected
  • AI is expected to be adopted by nearly three-quarters of surveyed companies
  • almost half of an individual’s skills (44%) will need to change [what they term "disrupted"] on average across all jobs in the next five years
  • of the 803 companies surveyed, 60% are concerned about skills gaps, & 54% worry about being able to attract talent

I read that 'technology will create structural churn, with a quarter of companies seeing job decline from new technology adoption and more than half seeing job growth'. 'Tasks requiring reasoning, communicating and coordinating ... are expected to be more automatable in the future'.

The two-part question is - should you feel that this issue is burning fiercely right now - what are the implications for us solution sellers, and what might we be thinking about to glide above and beyond the turbulence?

For pointers, let's examine their top trio [as per graph, p.38] of 'cognitive skill' recommendations.

Analytical Thinking

There seems to be a fair degree of crossover between analytical and critical thinking. Whilst appearing to have distinguishing nuances - such as the former breaking down the component parts, the latter questioning those parts - there's a number of templates you can follow with these. From First Principles to a whole raft of rinsers.

Four phases WEF seem to like, cover;

execute - converting instructions into action & suggesting improvements
synthesize - summarise what's important
recommend - say what needs to be done
generate - create something out of nothing, 'translate vision ...  into projects that can be executed'

Other models are available, right. Whatever the merits of this one, in selling we have two pincers to consider here. What situation are we analysing, and how we grade the positions and desired outcomes for us to prevail.

Creative Thinking

In one way, the final phase cited above encompasses this.

Again, there are plentiful models to plunder. The driver is to know methods by which you've created a winning solution, and be able to articulate how you did so. Often emphasising any collab with others to be set apart.

Settings can be wide ranging too. From our own creation of how to craft a bid, overcoming a potentially showstopping obstacle, to how we move the issues and personalities required to align with our way of thinking.

Systems Thinking

When we consider their 2021 definition, we come across this year's strangely hidden component;

Systems thinking unpacks the value chain within an organisation and externally. It complements design thinking: together they’re a dynamic duo.

There's a couple of issues here. First, are the complications of what a value chain might be. We seem nowadays to have gone beyond Porter's original coining. Second, hello 'design thinking'.

Regardless, there's reason to extract (as they elude to) the patterns in whatever drives success, 'unpick' them and constantly refine and restructure them.

This is at the heart of what I believe separates the superstar sellers from the rest.

The true process that delivers your sustainable, repeatable formula for sensational selling.

Incredibly few salespeople get this combo. Maybe now's the time to show you do.

Whilst sensing these aforementioned three 'skills' are a touch too broad for my taste, you could still even frame where you excel, are unique and have proven results across all three. Whether the audience be internal, a prospect, or prospective employer.

There are other areas WEF highlight too which we could well focus on and finesse.

Tech literacy, resilience-flexibility-agility, curiosity & lifelong learning, empathy & active listening, talent management, AI & Big Data.

Bit word salady, sure. But at least there's an attempt to put them into some kind of ranking.

So far, so generic. The main purpose of illuminating these in 2023 though, eclipses that they clearly could have been trumpeted as vital at just about any stage throughout selling.

The difference with now, is how to slot in the developments of not just today, but tomorrow too.

For instance.

When being analytical, can you - or better yet, have you - used new tools to get to the bottom of something? Such as a Big Data scrape. With a sprinkle of AI guidance. Or smattering of an app at the vanguard of a wave.

When getting creative, how are you doing so which before the Twenties was virtually (pun half-intended) unknown? Any engagement over video calls, including brainstorming, prioritising or agreeing counts high here. Then there's async work. Again, there are tools gaining maturity that may be a matter of months old, beyond email threads or web links sent.

When plugging into systems, have you a process? One you can explain. Draw. Show how it works and where it might go even farther?

If among any of all this, you spot something you might well bring into your selling arena, then you could be a long way to stealing a march on that 44% of what you do now about to experience upheaval and shape it your way.

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