Using Automation to Help Address the Sales Labour Crunch

June 5th, 2011 by

We are in an interesting time. Since the beginning of the year the stock market is down due to economic and employment concerns in the US and European countries, but here in Alberta we have enjoyed the benefits of the high price for oil. Two recent headlines in news articles suggest that the Alberta economy is growing: “Ledcor hiring campaign signals Alberta boom” and “Is Calgary’s boom back? Consumer confidence seen climbing ’with a vengeance”. In the same time frame the Calgary Chamber of Commerce released the results of its annual survey of the Calgary businesses and the number one concern of labour shortages.

“Concerns over labour shortages, absent since 2008, are once again on the radar. “Employee recruitment, retention and skill development have returned labour as a top Chamber member priority,” said Adam Legge, President + CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.”

What we are seeing in Alberta is a precursor to what is going to happen globally when the economy starts to recover. Access to qualified people to help companies meet the growth demands will be the number one concern for businesses. The solution to this problem is not just about having the ability to hire more employees than your competitors; it also involves getting more productivity from your existing employees. The need to balance growth and productivity is reflected in the Business Week article, “Why Facebook Needs Sheryl Sandberg” – Mark Zuckerberg’s second-in-command provides “adult supervision” at the company, trying to keep growth at an optimum level.” The article speaks to the struggles of Facebook wanting to manage growth with productivity.

Sales organizations will not be immune to employee shortages. The combination of growth of sales organizations creating demand for new sales people and losing sales people to other industries that are offering attractive salaries will make it tough to retain and attract new sales people. Companies will need to adopt sales automation and invest in online channels to improve customer communications if they want to manage the economic growth.

An example is a prospective customer that I visited last month; they service the oil & gas industry and the solutions they provide require significant engineering to complete a proposal. The challenge they have is they do not charge customers for preparing a proposal and they don’t have enough sales and inside sales people that have the ability to respond to customer requests. They know that customers are at different stages of the sales cycles; some are gathering information to help with the preparation of project business case and others are ready to implement, but they take the same approach to all the opportunities which includes costly proposal preparation.

This would be an example of an application that leading scoring and online channel development would help improve sales productivity. Having the ability to score the customers based on the readiness to make a buying decision by routing the qualified customers into the proposal process and managing unqualified customers through webinars, seminars and white papers. It is very important for sales and marketing organizations to prepare for the pending labour shortages by improving automations and communication tools.

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