Huthwaite International’s Director of Marketing, Rachel Massey, examines the changing corporate landscape and how training partners can stay relevant to the new mindset.

Three factors are transforming how we do business; technology, globalisation and humanity.

Technology is giving us new, more efficient ways of working, the ability to join up and become more integrated, faster and fitter. Globalisation is driving down cost, increasing competition, introducing commoditisation into sectors once considered high-value and specialist. Trading is becoming ever more difficult and turbulent. Finally, the behaviour of bankers, politicians, corporate tax avoiders and others is reducing tolerance levels for that which is unjust and does not give due care and attention to our humanity.

The corporate response

These macro factors are changing how corporates operate, or aspire to operate.

Operationally we’re seeing greater streamlining to drive down cost. Automation, robotics, A.I. and block chain technology are speeding up actions and transactions. They are shaping how we work, where we work, and the skills we need to work. Corporates everywhere are planning what the future of work will look like for them and how they can use technology to help them transform performance while reducing cost. For example, fewer buildings, more integrated job roles, more remote and mobile working and so on.

They are also changing how people think

Business leaders are increasingly questioning the status quo, challenging the norms, imagining transformations and thinking holistically. The focus is not on departmental objectives but enterprise-wide benefits. Disruption is no longer the mindset of an avant-garde entrepreneur or digital start up, it is now a mainstream corporate concept and has become so because technology is making everything and anything possible.

At Huthwaite International this big picture thinking is prevalent within many of our client’s organisations. Some are loud and proud transformative disruptors while others are looking how to engage their own clients in more holistic ways. Our recent European research amongst medical device sales leaders supports this, showing a strong focus on finding and articulating wider organisational benefits beyond their immediate buyer and /or departmental needs.

What’s the role of training in this new landscape?

Against this context, one might wonder which training methodology will genuinely equip sales teams for the challenges posed by the future? After all, with such a rapid pace of change afoot, then surely even the best sales methodology risks obsolescence?

Not so. Keeping any training intervention relevant against the context of rapid organisational change, requires a methodology that is rigorously researched, timeless and validated. That’s why at Huthwaite International, our approaches are rooted in extensive behavioural research; having spent four decades studying the behaviours that are needed for successful business, our solutions are among the most researched and validated on the planet. This, in effect, will future proof an organisation’s sales function, whatever the changes happening in the wider market.

It is important for organisations to recognise this fact.

That means existing training methodologies don’t necessarily need to be wholesale changed (providing they are thoroughly researched and sustainable as previously mentioned), but it isimportant for any training to be considered against the context of its relevancy to the macro cultural conversation within an organisation.

For example, SPIN Selling is focused around human behaviour, as our innate behaviour doesn’t change, neither does the training needed. However, with the launch of our Collaborative Learning platform, we have ensured that individuals can learn in a way that suits their method.

In so doing, the training can continue to contribute to the thinking of a company, and in doing so offer a different and more valuable perspective as and when recipients are ready for it. Enabling an enterprise-wide benefit through training also requires a different level of thinking even the most forward-thinking companies might not be physically ready for – yet. To do this effectively requires a collective model and a shift from running uncoordinated efforts (such as improving negotiation skills in procurement, or increasing value building skills in sales) within silos to launching an integrated, enterprise-wide, selling culture perhaps organised around the customer lifecycle.

What next for the future of training?

In any industry, and in any sector, the key to succeeding, growing and flourishing is down to staying ahead of the curve, embracing change, and constantly evolving to embrace new opportunities and revenue streams. However, just as everything changes, everything also stays the same, and Whatever the future has in store, core business skills remain essential, with selling and negotiating at the very top of the pile.