Sales and Marketing activities span every business and every industry. Small businesses need salespeople, as do massive enterprise companies. Thus sales has always been a top career choice for graduates from every program, especially engineering and business graduates.
The sudden and emergence of the Covid 19 pandemic caused huge disruptions in the labour market worldwide, leading to millions being laid off and even losing their jobs. The rest tried their best to adapt work-from-home practices as physical premises had to be closed down. A few essential services, were however, kept open such as hospitals and logistics operations but with stifling protocols to contain the virus.
One of the major impacts of the pandemic was the emergence of remote working. McKinsey (The future of Work after Covid 19, February, 18th, 2021) found that almost a fourth of the workforce in advanced countries could work out of their homes between 3-5 days a week. This was driven by the fact that several business activities especially those related to selling could easily be moved to the remote mode. This means that on the one hand, remote working may increase by a factor of four to five as estimated by McKinsey and this may result in reverse migration from cities to suburbs and large towns over a period of time.
Shifting the focus from service providers to consumers, the drastic shift to e-commerce and other online activities is likely to persist post-pandemic and McKinsey estimates (McKinsey Consumer Pulse Survey) the number to be almost 75%.
Closer home in India, the unemployment rate hit the roof with a record high of 27.1% in April, 2020 and numbers crossing 120 million (BBC Report). However, with receding pandemic and the resultant opening up of business across the country, a large portion of the economic activity is fast returning to pre-Covid levels.
With the cities and towns across India opening up rapidly, the greatest imperative for businesses today is acquiring revenue. In this scenario, most sectors have showed signs of an increase in hiring across sectors, especially in the sales and marketing segment.
The job aggregator, Naukri estimates that more than 23,000 Sales Business Development jobs are open in India currently out of which more than 1000 are new additions.
The major drivers for a strong uptick of Sales and Marketing positions are:
- Revenue generation:
During the pandemic, almost all organisations have lost a substantial part of their business. It is imperative for them to ramp up revenues at the first available opportunity. Since Sales and Marketing roles have a direct and immediate impact on revenues, it is only normal that organisations will focus on building up their sales and marketing teams.
- Brand awareness
India is a consumption-driven economy and with the return of pre-pandemic income levels, the vast Indian population, especially the burgeoning middle class is expected to engage in consumption with a vengeance. This is so because during the pandemic, consumers were home-bound and did not find enough avenues to channel their consumption. With the withdrawal of various restrictions post-pandemic and with the return of the pre-Covid income levels, Indian consumers will be looking forward to unique opportunities for indulging themselves. Many of the consumption habits have changed during pandemic, such as the shifting of several purchases to online modes, and this will result in a different pattern of consumer demand.
The role of the marketing function is critical in devising strategies for delivering these unique offerings customers and to devise innovative strategies for communication, engagement, and delivering customer satisfaction. This will lead to a spike in demand of marketing skillsets resulting in the demand for marketing professionals.
Changes in Sales and Marketing strategies:
The new business paradigm expected to emerge will witness major shifts in the way sales and marketing activities are conducted. Some of the trends which are expected to emerge are as follows:
- Virtual sales techniques
Physical client visits are no longer seen as mandatory and both sales persons and customers have adapted well virtual means of interaction for buying and selling products and services. This trend will not only persist but may even accelerate in future as organisations attempt to expand their reach while keeping selling costs under control.
- Change in technology
Technological changes are expanding at an ever increasing pace. This is causing unforeseen changes in the way business is conducted and no function, including sales and marketing, is safe from this. Already methods of customer engagement have undergone transformation through use of online platforms such as Zoom or MS Teams. Sales reporting has moved to online, and in many cases onto the cloud. Thus post-pandemic sales and marketing professionals will be expected to be techno savvy and ready to adopt new technologies.
- Better use of social media
The pandemic forced people to be bound within the four walls of their homes. With the normal routes of social interaction cut off, they took to social media with a vengeance. The marketers and their business naturally followed their customers resulting in a sudden spurt in social media marketing practices. The post-Covid marketing professional cannot hope to succeed without a strong background in social media marketing techniques.
- The future belongs to Hybrid
An adaptation to the pandemic, Hybrid sales is expected to be the most popular sales and customer engagement strategy in the initial stages of the sales process (The future of B2B sales is hybrid, April 27, 2022, McKinsey). Business-to-Business (B2B) sales, which is set to gain the most of it.
McKinsey found that Hybrid sales can be expected to increase revenue by more than half, prompting several large players in this market to shift to this strategy. Sales and marketing professionals should take note of it since organizations are creating new sales roles and recruiting appropriate talent to fill these vacancies.
It is thus clear that the landscape of the profession going forward will be very different from the one that we saw before the pandemic struck.