Sales Capabilities of the Future: Dynamic Shifts and Emerging Patterns

In a world where technology and consumer behavior are evolving at a breathtaking pace, the future of sales is no longer a distant concept—it’s a dynamic reality reshaping the way businesses engage, persuade, and close deals.

Thought Logic engaged in in-depth interviews with CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) industry leaders, unearthing transformative trends and conducting a meticulous analysis of the current market landscape to chart the course for the evolution of best strategies. Our report, ‘Sales Capabilities of the Future,’ explores how market forces affect leaders and organizations, finds upcoming drivers of change, outlines the key capability priorities for the next 3-5 years, and expects changes in capability areas and budgets.

Let’s look at our findings from the reports spanning 2020 to 2022.

Year after year, the landscape of sales and marketing capabilities has undergone significant transformations, and the years 2020 to 2022 have been no exception. Businesses that do not mobilize operations and reinvent their sales strategies will not stand a chance in the race to establish eCommerce. These transformative years, starting with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, have accelerated existing problems, led to the realization of new organizational capabilities, and paved the way for a future where innovation, omni-channel, and adaptability reign supreme.

2020: Acceleration and Adaptation

In 2020, the world was forced into a whirlwind of change, demanding businesses to adapt rapidly or face the consequences. Existing problems, such as consolidation and margin pressure, were amplified by the pandemic’s effects on the economy. Faced with the necessity to address their profit and loss statements, companies ventured into a new frontier: virtual selling. As consumers turned to online shopping, rapid ecommerce growth pushed businesses to embrace digital channels and rethink traditional sales strategies. The shift towards virtual selling became a necessary mindset for sales teams to stay relevant.

“Salespeople have the desire to push, push, push versus recognizing volume is only as good as the value it gets.”

In response to the challenges, revenue growth management, along with price management, became critical factors in sustaining profitability. Companies started to realize the effectiveness of customer value creation for overall growth. Leveraging existing supply chains allowed businesses to navigate disruptions and meet customer demands. Real-time adjustments for both online and in-store operations emerged as a powerful tool to maintain agility and meet customer expectations.

Continuing Theme: Automation and AI (Artificial Intelligence)

“Technology allows the unleashing of people to spend more time thinking about the customer.”

Even amidst the chaos, a consistent theme emerged: the wider use of automation and generative AI to streamline operations and shift the focus of sales teams to a growth mindset. This newfound openness to change allowed businesses to harness data-driven decision-making and create more personalized experiences for customers. Research from McKinsey estimates that investment in AI generates a revenue increase of 3 to 5 percent and an ROI increase of 10 to 15 percent. With rising economic pressures AI can be utilized for companies struggling to gain traction in their digital market space.

2021: The Realization of Organizational Capabilities

“We’re no longer just looking for ‘sales’ folks, we’re bringing in people who have a thirst for learning and feeling confident enough to represent a full cross-functional perspective.”

As the dust settled in 2021, the lessons of the previous year began to manifest in the form of newfound organizational capabilities. Supply chain management came to the forefront as businesses recognized the need for resilience and control over costs. Repairing supply chain gaps was a key step in cost control. The availability of data supplied a wealth of information, but the challenge lay in extracting valuable insights and leveraging them effectively.

A significant shift occurred in the sales arena, as sales teams transformed their strategies from merely driving sales to adding value for customers. Automation played a crucial role in this transformation, enabling sales professionals to focus on building relationships and offering personalized solutions. The rise of multifaceted leaders with increased marketing skills and supply chain expertise allowed organizations to quickly adjust to changing market expectations.

Continuing Theme: Embracing Digitalization

“We need to reach a place where supply chain is part of our DNA, and no brand is considered without that component.”

The trend of embracing digitalization continued to gain momentum. Businesses seamlessly integrated online and in-person sales channels to cater to various customer segments effectively. Properly segmenting customers allowed organizations to maintain better control over their profit and loss statements, leading to more sustainable growth.

2022: The Age of Hybrid Workforce and Corporate Responsibility

As the world settled into a new normal, businesses focused on establishing eCommerce capabilities and digitalizing their operations fully. A hybrid work environment became the norm, enabling companies to access a more diverse talent pool without location restrictions. This diversity fostered greater innovation and risk-taking.

In 2022, Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) values, along with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, gained more relevance in sales and marketing strategies. Consumers increasingly sought brands that aligned with their values, prompting businesses to prioritize sustainability and inclusivity.

Continuing Theme: Data Intelligence and Media Convergence

Data intelligence continued to be of paramount importance, and companies made concerted efforts to clean, analyze, and extract valuable insights from the data deluge. The collaborative effort between marketing and sales teams became vital for organizational agility and customer understanding. Organizations recognized the importance of data and how important it is to utilize the information to make data-driven decisions.

Media and marketing also underwent a significant shift, with companies heavily investing in digital media to reach broader audiences. Media companies themselves started venturing into product sales, blurring the lines between content and commerce.

“There is a huge race amongst retailers to get supply and advertising dollars to their media platforms.”

The Future: Omni-Channel Marketing and Holistic Customer Experiences

As we look to the future, the key to success in sales and marketing capabilities lies in mastering omni-channel marketing. The method of promoting products across all platforms, devices, and channels with unified messaging and visuals will be vital for building holistic customer experiences. Businesses that can seamlessly integrate online and offline operations, leverage data-driven insights, and create personalized customer journeys will thrive in the dynamic landscape of the future.

In summary, the years between 2020 and 2022 marked a period of remarkable transformation in the realm of sales and marketing capabilities. The acceleration of digitalization, automation, and data intelligence has reshaped the way businesses engage with customers. Themes like adaptability, data-driven decision-making, and organizational agility have proven to be evergreen principles in the pursuit of sustainable growth. Embracing the future is no longer an option but a fierce imperative for CPG leaders hungry for a competitive edge. In this dynamic terrain, the exhilarating quest to stay ahead is a relentless thrill, as fresh challenges arise at every turn.

At Thought Logic, we speak with clients, prospects, and industry experts on this topic. Only by knowing which Sales Capabilities are at the forefront can we develop the tools and enhance services that uniquely speak to our clients, giving them strategic support. In the SCOF (Sales Capabilities of the Future) report, Thought Logic asked 20+ Sales Leaders to share their thoughts on Future Capabilities and what their focuses were for 2023+.

Our SCOF for 2023 is coming out soon, click to sign up on the bottom of this page to have future Insights sent to you.


Nirvana Findley

Principal Consultant

About Strategy + Transformation

Thought Logic’s Strategy + Transformation smartSolution helps businesses navigate organizational transformation through periods of growth and change.

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