How will Industrial 4.0 impact us in sales?

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The term “Industrial 4.0” originated from the German Government. It was a reference to a project focused on the computerisation of manufacturing. The term “Industrial 4.0” was revived in 2011 at the Hannover Fair. At that time many thought it was a continuation of the third industrial revolution that we refer to it as The Digital Revolution.

To understand what impact Industrial 4.0 will have on us in sales, we need to look back in history at the first and later industrial revolutions. There have been three industrial revolutions and each has transformed society and the way we earn a living.

  1. The First Industrial Revolution started at the beginning of the 1760s with the advent of steam. The change in society was dramatic. Farming communities moved to urban communities. Work centred around the factories. Unskilled labour was cheap. 14-hour shifts were commonplace, and economies grew. From it, a new middle-class worker emerged.
  2. The Second Industrial Revolution started around the 1870s with the advancement of science. The conveyor belt, division of labour, mechanics and mass production. Henry Ford’s company was mass producing the Ford Model T car. People followed jobs and workers in rural communities continued moving into urban areas. How people earnt a living selling was changing.
  3. The Third Industrial Revolution started in the 1960s. It is known as the Digital Revolution and you are enjoying it now reading this Article or listening to the video stream. Every industry sector across the World has seen the impact of the digital revolution. Information technology began to automate production and take supply chains global. Our ability to sell became a lot more skilled, efficient and faster.
  4. The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Once again society is being transformed, which includes the way we sell. Flying cars are coming and we do have robots! Everything is becoming connected with the Internet of Things (IOT). Artificial intelligence (AI) is automating anything predictable and repeatable. Machine learning is creating a new skilled, 24-hour machine-based workforce for the future.

What does this all mean to us in sales?

The systems we depend upon are embracing Artificial Intelligence or AI. Salesforce published a survey presenting 26 statistics that prove sales is changing. Statistic No. 23, highlights AI is the top growth area for sale teams. Its adoption is forecast to grow 139% over the next three years. As we get older, our willingness to change decreases follows a linear line. Technologies rate of change is however exponential and is governed by the law of accelerating returns. Once again how we sell needs to change on account of the incredible rate of technological change occurring around us.

If you have a son or daughter, niece or nephew, or friends with children, assume for a moment they are 14 years old. Consider the whole of the technological change we saw in the Twentieth Century. It has repeated itself in their 14-year lifetime. What took 14 years will only take seven years from today. By 2040 when they are 35 years old. The twentieth-century rate of change will be happening many times a year!

What does that mean for us in sales?

Many of us will still be working in five years. It means you must start preparing yourself now for the changes that are about to happen. When it comes, and you are not prepared, you and your businesses will become uncompetitive within our new world of sales. To coexist with technological advancements that include robots, AI, IOT, Machine Learning. To remain competitive, you must become more human to remain and succeed in sales.

Industrial 4.0 will automate all that is predictable and repeatable in our jobs. See this as an opportunity to create space to sharpen your human skills. The skill to focus on sales include your ability to empathise., to be compassionate and creative. To apply your wisdom and experience to broaden your perspective. You put these very human skills to work better serving your clients. Being human is developing these and are other human virtues. To build more trusting relationships that allow you to discover new insights. These insights allow you to be consistent and accurate in managing your sales forecast. For sales leaders, it means better managing sales pipeline reviews. These reviews drive the growth of your business.

Focus on sharpening your human skills required to be more competitive selling. Embrace Industrial 4.0 to work alongside automation and robots. Do this, and you will be able to look back over the next five years with pride. The pride you are the best you can be managing an accurate sales forecast. The best you can be leading a successful sales team. The best you can be running effective sales pipeline reviews.

Download our Guides. The Sales Pipeline Guide for Sales Teams & Business Owners. Within this guide, you can also download another Guide – Using Sales Prospecting Tools to Improve Sales Pipeline Reviews.

About the Author

Treve Wearne is the founder of Nazca Services Limited. Treve supports businesses and sales teams positioning themselves and increasing sales revenues. Improving sales forecasts, talent development and retention in the most challenging business environments.