7 Billion People and Counting, What Impact Does that Have on a Sales Person?

October 29th, 2011 by

We are a few days away from the population hitting the 7 billion mark and that brings up questions of what does the sales world look like moving forward. Peter Apps from Reuters wrote an interesting article entitled, “7 billion and beyond Population: Problem is Economic.” The position of the article is the aging population is going to be the biggest challenge. Many demographers and longterm planners say the challenge for the next century will be less dealing with growing numbers of people and more managing the much larger population of aged and perhaps dependent people while finding new strategies to deliver prosperity, jobs and essential services.

The combination of growing population in other countries other than Canada and our aging workforce is forcing us to look at the important role of improving productivity will trying to maintains our life style. Sales, marketing and customer support are three areas that can realize huge gains by committing to improving productivity. In the early 1900’s Walter LeMar Talbot, President of the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company had this to say about a sales person:

“Gentlemen, after all, this business of selling narrows down to one thing – just one thing . . . seeing the people! Show me any man of ordinary ability who will go out and earnestly tell his story to four or five people every day, and I will show you a man who just can’t help making good!“

I meet with many Canadian sales organizations now (2011) and they set the same sales activity targets set by Walter LeMar Talbot in the early 1900’s when the population was 1.8B people. The expectation that a sales person will have 5 conversations a day as an acceptable level of sales productivity will not be competitive in a population of 7B people. If we are not able to improve the productivity in Canada we will not generate that tax base that is required to sustain the standard of health care and essential services that is required to support our aging population.

Companies need to rethink expectation the population in 2011 is four times greater than 1920 when Walter LeMar Talbot made that statement that if a sales person will “tell his story to four or five people every day” that they would be successful. Is it safe to say that same person now needs to tell the “story” 20 times a day if they are to have the same level of success? The tools that will foster the huge jump in sales productivity are CRM, Social Networking, Blogs, Mobility, Cloud Computing, etc. Companies need to be changing sales processes today if they are to stay competitive in a world of 7 billion people.


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