Who will guide today’s corporate leaders through the turbulent challenges presented by the digital economy? It’s a question posed by Scott Santucci, founder of the Sales Enablement Society and a director at The Alexander Group in a keynote speech at the recent Experience Sales Enablement 2017 conference in Dallas. He argues that sales enablement leaders now have a powerful opportunity to play this role. But getting there requires them to first step back and consider the larger forces now at work. As Santucci sees it, a meteor crashed into the economy in 2008. Back then, the top seven companies had a combined market cap of $1.84 trillion, with an average valuation of $262 billion. The companies that made up the list included Exxon, Wal-Mart, a number of Chinese financial concerns, and Microsoft. Today, the top seven companies are mostly technology companies, with a total valuation of $4 trillion and an average valuation of $568 billion. In the past nine years, dramatic changes ushered in a digital age. These include the following:
- Consumers sought experiences as much as—or even more than—they sought products, forcing companies to rethink what they sell. One office furniture company, for example, is selling “space optimization strategies” instead of desks and chairs.
- The Chief Procurement Officer role became prominent. While centralized procurement saves enterprises billions of dollars, it poses new obstacles for salespeople.
- Omnichannel transactions have made buyer dynamics more confusing and complex.
Digital is disrupting the value exchange processAs businesses change, and as the customer’s world keeps changing, inefficiencies are created at the point of sale. “When the human beings on the buyer side are confused, and the salespeople on our side are confused, what happens?” asks Santucci.“We get a boatload of inefficiency at the point of sale.” According to Santucci, companies have three choices:
- They can innovate, just as Uber came out of nowhere and made taxicabs obsolete.
- They can transform to meet customer needs, like the way AMC Theatres is retooling its locations into bars and restaurants.
- Or they can be disrupted. Clueless companies will feel the negative effects of this by losing market share and ultimately going out of business, but more thoughtful companies that choose to abandon old business models can free up resources for innovation and transformation in other areas.