This Is What The Promotional Products Team Of The Future Will Look Like
Massive shifts are taking place in how we work and how we sell and the business that thrives today will adjust to these now. The customer of tomorrow, the salesperson of tomorrow, the team of tomorrow, collaboration and the supply chain, and the role of entrepreneur/owner are all facing seismic changes. Those who heed the warning will reap tremendous benefits; those who ignore these changes will fight attrition. Following is our continuation of a 5-part part-mini series on what the business of tomorrow looks like, today.
So far, we've looked at the critical changes the customer of tomorrow demands today and the six traits the salesperson of tomorrow needs today, in this brief installment, we’ll consider what the promotional products team of tomorrow will look like:
(1) The Elimination of Non-Value Add Activities
There is still a tremendous amount of time wasted in this industry on non-value add and duplicate activities: double and triple order entry, managing disorganized client artwork assets, cumbersome spreadsheets, numerous proof approvals, obsessive order tracking, etc. These activities are being replaced by technology now for those who are willing to embrace it, but for those that are still struggling with these expensive, superfluous tasks, their speed to respond to the market gets dangerously slower while those who are willing to embrace the change are getting quicker, stronger, and leaner.
(2) More Talent Toward Sales Creation
Even for those who have made progress towards replacing outmoded activities with technology, things are about to heat up and get even faster. We’ve mentioned before, as more process automation gets smarter with services like PromoStandards evolving into real-time functionality, more and more tasks will be replaced by automation as information flows seamlessly from supplier to distributor to customer. This is critical because when it comes to the resources of your team, many distributors currently spend an inordinate proportion of their payroll on after-sale activities. In the future, more of these team members will shift from tasks like order entry or tracking toward more pre-sales activities: research on clients, contributing to ideas for customers, more creative output, and more energy toward custom solutions tailored to client demands. The distributor will need to be prepared to reimagine his team and consider that since those administrative tasks will go away, you’ll have team members that will need to be redeployed, reskilled, and refocused.
(3) More Interdependence
Currently, most distributors’ teams work in silos, separated by small departments or discipline (order entry is one silo, store creation another silo, accounting yet still another silo). Information is not easily shared across these silos and many are working in the dark when it comes to real-time knowledge on live projects. This creates confusion, slows the business to a dangerous pace, and prohibits teamwork. It’s crucial that the distributor of tomorrow (today really!) equips their teams with modern tech tools that give them clear visibility about what’s happening with every client and every project. For those that do, this technology will continue to replace tasks and make information on real-time projects available to all, team members will begin (and many already have) to work smarter for the betterment of the team and the betterment of the customer). The salesperson will not be the lone beholder of client intel, instead, the team will be more integrated and more aware of clients and their needs now that information, status on orders, and progress is accessible by all. Future training requirements will need to be focused more on teamwork and fostering a culture of group thinking, shared ideas, and interdependence.
Ultimately, Leaner, Faster, More Creative … and More Profitable
Not only will supplier information flow seamlessly from supplier to distributor to customer but the information back from customers (order approvals, proof approvals, order delivery, etc) will also be handled through digital services, creating fewer and fewer transactional communication points from the team to the customer and more intelligent customer contact. This will also free teams to be more swift to respond to real-time projects, allowing them to pivot and focus quicker.
This means less headcount and more profit, more revenue-generating personnel than ever before, which translates into faster, exponential growth. These changes have an enormous impact on the type of candidates we recruit for our teams, no longer will we focus on recruiting a large percentage of our team for after-sales activities (admin tasks), the team of the future will be more client-facing, forward-thinking, consultative, creative, and more responsive than ever before.
The future of the industry has never looked brighter (and bigger!) for those willing to change and adapt - and your support team will no longer be relegated to merely admin tasks but activated for high-energy, high-impact selling, your team is about to become a selling machine!
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