Let us imagine there are two different energy businesses. One company is clearly determined to achieve its sales goals, now and in the future and sees what needs to be done to win in the digital age. That company decides on a course of action. The company also has a management team that makes it clear to its own employees, too, that the energy business has to change at all levels, and the company’s employees are acquiring a basic level of digital literacy. Employees are quickly alerted to the fact that they themselves are the driving force behind the changes happening in the digital age.
This is quickly catching on, and so a new wind is blowing through the halls of the venerable company, new dynamics are developing and enveloping the whole sales organization, and the ever-growing digital business is also boosting the salaries of energy company sales representatives. There is a lot of interest in artificial intelligence, too, and the sales team now has acquired a solid base of digital knowledge and specialized knowledge of online marketing. Furthermore, the growing digital distribution business is enabling more talented younger employees to enter the energy business, high-performers who understand something about sales and digitalization. and social media marketing. The whole thing gains its own momentum, overcoming inertia. The company is growing organically, and to make targeted purchases in companies that can additionally support the growth course.
The other energy company is not so successful. Due to rigid structures and bad incentives, a fatal pessimism has set in, and there is an unwillingness of employees to learn new skills. This company is increasingly limited to trade fair appearances in order to reach new customers, otherwise on its network of regular customers.
You often hear in sales meetings: We know what our customers want!
The ravages of time are noticeable, but everyone is silent. It is the calm before the storm, the tides change, the storm approaches. The staff and its management are sitting on their business cards, waiting for the departure of bad weather.
THE DIGITAL AGE PUSHES ENERGY COMPANIES TO CHANGE THEIR APPROACH TO SELL TO B2B AND END CUSTOMERS
IN GERMANY ENERGY BUSINESS WILL FACE MOUNTING PRESSURE FROM FOREIGN MARKET PARTICIPANTS BECAUSE OF DIGITALIZATION
THE END GAME FOR ENERGY COMPANIES IN GERMANY
HOW ENERGY COMPANIES CAN CHANGE THEIR SALES ORGANIZATION TO MAKE DIGITALIZATION WORK FOR THEM
ENTREPRENEURIAL SKILLS WILL BE A REAL ASSET FOR SALES PERSONNEL
RECRUITING PRACTISES AND INCENTIVE STRUCTURES MUST CHANGE FOR ENERGY BUSINESSES IN GERMANY TO HAVE A FUTURE
TRAVEL COSTS OF ENERGY BUSINESSES WILL FALL BECAUSE OF VIDEO CONFERENCES AND DIGITAL MEDIA
OVERTHROW OF EXISTING STRUCTURES IN SALES ORGANIZATIONS OF EVERY TYPE OF ENERGY BUSINESS
SUMMARY: HOW CAN WE GENERALIZE WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT; WHAT CAN ENERGY BUSINESSES EXPECT
Let us think about what all of this means: It is obvious to me that most companies will not follow this new trend, they will not adjust to artificial intelligence beyond a rudimentary level. Most companies, in my estimation, are more likely to be the followers of this structural development, and if the effort and pressure on the company as already stated in the previous part will have reached a critical mass, these companies will either be taken over by competitors which have a better digital model and are able to generate sales revenue more effectively in the digital age. Alternatively, these companies will be bought up by energy companies from abroad, and sales organizations will be restructured and internationalized to suit the customers' needs. It could well be that most customers are located in Asia, so the sales organization will become part of a global sales team. And here in particular East Asian companies have already shown a strong appetite to acquire European and in particular German energy technology companies. Another option is that these companies become nationalized, or they simply will go bankrupt. All of these options are possible. As a result, as pressure mounts, so too will the pressure on the few sales representatives who are able to contribute to the energy busines and drive sales, but on whom the burden will be heaviest. From a personal point of view, therefore, there is the risk that an ever smaller group of sales employees of an energy company will have to generate more and more sales, adapt to severer sales conditions and, above all, adapt to digitization in the energy business. At the same time these sales representatives will think and act as entrepreneurs. Of course, this leads to an inherent contradiction as it conflicts with business practises that have existed in Western Europe since World War 2 and the majority of workers who are aiming for a work-life-balance.
The actual question is, however, if fewer and fewer salesmen are in a position to generate sales revenue, because they possess a certain skill set that can be put to use in a sales organization, and the existing skills of a salesperson only form a basis competence on which which higher-level skills rest upon, and digital skills that sit on top of that skill base gain in importance, then it quickly becomes clear in which way every sales organization will develop in the long term, in the direction of a reduction of the sales staff who are employed in field service, but those who remain thereafter will conform to a ratio of 20%/80%, where 20% generate 80% of the sales. These individuals will be fully capable to run their own business as well, because they have the skills of an entrepreneur.
On the basis of what we have discussed so far, we can address the main issue at play here. How can we achieve a balance between digitalization, artificial intelligence, restructuring of the sales units and the employees working in the sales organization. How can we balance the demands that digitization places on the energy business without endangering its economic viability. We have to keep in mind that it is ultimately the sales organization that secures long-term sales for the company, and on the other hand, we have to train the sales staff in the best possible way to meet the requirements of digitalization in order to generate sales revenue and to preserve the energy business from long-term economic decline. This brings me to one of the most important insights of this article, that the remaining sales staff of that sales organization will necessarily be entrepreneurial, and to a certain extent has to act and act self-determinedly, and without which the restructuring of a sales organization to the digital age would be impossible, from my point of view is.