As the economy continues to show signs of improvement the economic winds of change are once again upon us. Over the past year we have seen a bull stock market setting new highs, a firming up of the US housing market, and solid global markets for goods and services. Our clients have been working with us to develop new strategies to adapt and capitalize on these upward trends. We are glad to see the “flat is the new up” mantra has now been left behind, at least in most market segments. Now once again there is renewed focus on top line revenues and businesses worldwide are looking for a new way forward.
Much has changed in the human capital aspects of today’s global workforce. For one, this workforce is more mobile, more technologically savvy, and better connected than any workforce in history. They are younger and better educated too. However, as many of the leaders of the last economic growth cycle have left the workforce for retirement and other pursuits and there remains a dearth of experience available to train and make ready these eager “juggernauts” just waiting for their chance to excel. During the Great Recession the opportunity for succession planning was held in abeyance while more pressing matter were attended.
Corporations have begun to recognize this situation and the need to make significant and immediate investments in learning and development. Those employees and producers identified as “High Potentials, Rising Stars, and Fast Trackers,” will gravitate toward those organizations willing to invest in their growth and development and leave behind those that fall short. Recent media and publications support this thinking with hard facts and figures indicating in at least one account that since 2010 organizations have invested almost US$1,000 per employee annually on training, with even more spent on high potentials and over-achievers. A number that is sure to rise with a beneficial increase in ROI.
As economic pressures slowly yield, the consequences of deferring past decisions will become more urgent. There will be a need for new growth strategies and objectives to be defined, new products and programs to support them, and staffing and training requirements to prepare the staff to execute them.
Despite the reprioritization of strategies and objectives, the changes in business focus have not brought forth a change in the business drivers; namely, business developers and producers are still called upon to take the lead for the growth of their firms. Sales organizations are now called upon to take charge and be the leaders of growth. Sales leadership is tasked with the responsibility of achieving increased revenue growth targets with essentially flat headcount, making training and professional development paramount.
The time is now to begin a closer examination of all facets of the sales process - seeking new ways to build revenues, top-grading people, pioneering products, honing distribution channels, and most importantly; building essential business development skills.