What’s changed in the past decade?

The ten year anniversary of working with a client blog

I recently celebrated my ten year anniversary working with a client of mine, The Marwood Group, and it got me thinking about how I met Jeff Gold, Sales Director at The Marwood Group and what I’d accomplished with him in that time.

Back in 2009, my sales training business was developing nicely, I had a few clients, my book was just published and I was honing my signature programme ‘The Psychology Of Sales’.

I was invited to deliver a speech on Marketing Your Business at the CEME facility in Rainham, Essex. It was a free seminar offered by the college for businesses seeking to improve their marketing.

There were around 120 people in the room and I spoke to many afterwards, however, I met Jeff and his colleague David and we arranged a meeting in his offices for the following week. The Marwood Group are the premier quality non-mechanical plant hire and sales company in the UK. I didn’t even know what plant hire was when I met Jeff. he wanted training for his Hire Negotiators, I thought their job role was Higher Negotiators and put that in the proposal! (I still wince at that today, Jeff still laughs about it)

Since then I have delivered over 100 training and coaching events for their staff across the country and have built up not just good working relationships with the people I’ve trained but actually genuine friendships too.

During that time Jeff’s steered The Marwood Group to growing the business, trebling the turnover and improving margins through increased productivity and, it must be said, with improved standards of the salespeople throughout the organisation. Jeff’s one of the ‘good guys’ in business and I have a tremendous amount of respect for what he does and the unique way he does it.

As we get ready to enter a new decade, I started thinking about the ten years working with The Marwood Group and that got me to thinking about how the world has changed over the past ten years.

From a tech point of view, nothing’s really changed has it? iPhone X max vs iPhone 3GS, yes more features but essentially the same device. Playstation 3 or 4? Xbox 360 or Xbox 1? Macbook or Macbook? Google was dominant then and is now. The Premier League was on the box all the time so nothings changed there. Sat nav has improved though! How many of us use Waze, for example? Wearable technology has become mainstream and as they become more powerful, we will no doubt find new things to do to distract ourselves.

Outside of technology devices though a LOT has changed. Technology has improved, become faster and more stable and new concepts such as effective cloud storage, powerful tablet computing, effective wearable tech, a proliferation of bots, real world AI and other ‘under the hood’ technologies have been brought out.

One of the biggest changes have been the ever-improving speed of internet connectivity and the stability of internet-based telephone calls. With so many of us covered by superfast broadband, the ability to have a reliable, fast internet connection is open to everyone. Mobile telephony has improved in the adoption of 4G which is generally faster than the older 3G connections.

I started thinking about how the workplace has changed and I think that there have been some seismic changes over the past ten years.

For example, work dress code. Many companies I work with have ditched the suit and tie for more relaxed clothing. I personally still wear a suit when I’m with clients, however, I have mainly stopped wearing a tie over the past ten years to avoid looking too formal. It’s interesting that the wearing of a tie has fallen away do much, that now it’s becoming a very positive statement to actually wear a tie! (Hang on, I might just change that policy of mine not to wear a tie! Watch this space…)

With the improvements in technology and stability in VOIP calling, the concept of working from home has become far more commonplace.

In 2009 I had an office, in 2019 I work from home. My business partner, my daughter, also works from home, sometimes hers, sometimes mine. We used to share an office but were hardly ever there at the same time as we were at events or training. With a high quality answering service like Moneypenny, we are able to have all the functionality of an office without the cost and crucially, without the commute. Saving time AND money!

With laptops, tablets, smartphones, onedrives, dropboxes, whatsapp, teams, slack, really, there’s no need to be sitting in an office all day, for my business, anyway.

Technology does allow us to be more flexible in our working practices. It is driving changes in behaviour.

For example, when I started working with The Marwood Group, their reps were not using embedded technology, didn’t have smartphones and paper was the order of the day. This impacted the company as they employed sales support staff.

With paperwork to be followed up from the reps and a paper-based system, this meant that with the twenty reps they had at the time, there were ten support staff. Roll on ten years, there are well over thirty reps and the support staff team is down to four. The reps are using smartphones with tablets and are now directly inputting to the CRM instead of requiring staff to do it for them.

The reps are more effective, partly through technology and partly through our training programmes, delivered over the years.

I digitized my sales training content and the staff re-do my sales training annually to remind them, online. It hasn’t reduced my working with them, rather it’s added value to my offering.

Technology is driving improvements in efficiency and the result is companies run leaner with fewer staff.

This drives businesses forward for greater profits but means that there’s fewer employment opportunities for people to do task based jobs.

This is the biggest change, I think, over the past ten year, the beginning of the eradication of the task-based jobs.

Over the next ten years I think that this will be where the biggest changes to our lives will come, the requirement for fewer task based roles in the workplace as they are the ones that will be eradicated by technology.

I’ve seen the sales reps at The Marwood Group become more than leaflet droppers and transform into a cohesive and professional team that provide a valuable service TO THEIR CUSTOMERS by helping the customers reduce stress, avoid costly problems and ensure that people working on building sites are kept safe by using the right equipment.

Had they not changed, were they just dropping sales information in, could they have been replaced by technology?

We’ve upskilled them, adapted their roles so that they are current in a changing business climate and this kept them relevant.

Interestingly, from a geological point of view adaptation is what keeps some species alive and others extinct. Homo Sapiens (modern humans) adapted to a changing environment (end of the Ice Age) better than Homo Neanderthalensis that may have contributed to their eventual extinction 45,000 years ago.

Whilst this is conjecture, the lesson for people today is that if you are working in a task based job that could be replaced by automated technology, you should be consider what you can do to make yourself as relevant as possible and future proof your skills.

For example, customer service telephone jobs will, over the next ten years, come under pressure of becoming extinct through automated processes. We see this happening at other clients already.

However, if you transition into a sales telephone role, you are in a role that is less susceptible to automation. Adaptation stops you becoming outdated and replaced by automation.

Food for thought?

At Cellular Attitude, we can help you and your staff adapt and become even better at selling through our face to face and online training programmes.

Don’t let your job role become extinct before you’ve adapted to a more secure type of role.

We’re more than happy to have a discussion about that.

I’d like to finish by thanking Jeff Gold and everyone at The Marwood Group for being a fantastic client over the years and I look forward to working wit you for another tean at least!

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