Chapter 5. Career Options - Great Ways to Be a Foresight Leader

9. Sales

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Sales is the classic market function of the firm. In the data fishbowl of the modern world, customer relationship management (CRM) software has become a virtual requirement for many firms. com is a CRM leader. The eminent futurist Peter Schwartz now works there, in government relations and strategic planning. It is worth noting that the Salesforce.com Foundation offers a free full-featured ten-seat user license to virtually all nonprofits who apply for one, a $15,000/year gift worth sharing with your nonprofit leader friends. There are also free and low-cost open source CRM platforms today, such as SugarCRM. Sales requires cognitive and emotional strengths that many futurists lack (“Woo” is one of the classic sales strengths, in the StrengthsFinder terminology (Chapter 10)). There are also many emerging software tools in the sales space, such as LevelEleven’s Compete, a sales gamification platform that works with Salesforce.com CRM software.

Good primers for better understanding and managing this department include Dan Pink’s To Sell is Human (2012), and Robert Miller’s The New Strategic Selling and The New Conceptual Selling (2005). The latter is particularly helpful for personalization and face-to-face meetings, where the sale to large accounts seeks to engage each customer’s unique needs, wants, and visions for the future. For nonprofits, Selling Social Change (2002) outlines successful fundraising and earned income strategies.

As social media and CRM systems grow in sophistication, increasingly segmented and even individualized advertising and sales process engineering strategies, using mass customization and personalized marketing are becoming one of the new frontiers of sales. Another is acquisition of new customers in emerging nations, with efficient, low cost products and services. For a good account of the latter, though its thesis is a bit overoptimistic at present, see C.K. Prahalad’s The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid (2006).

The Sales department is most commonly associated with the Marketing Management foresight function, while Entrepreneurship is a runner-up, as many great salespersons, like entrepreneurs, thrive when given high personal freedom under time and economic constraints, and high-risk, high-reward incentive structures. Most hires in the Sales department are unusually strong in the Influence cluster of skills (see Chapter 10).

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