This year is a critical time for sales managers and their teams, and several key factors are combining to make it so. New use of data, personalisation and scientific skillsets are playing an increasingly important role; in a few years’ time selling may even be more about science than art.
In the near future, there will be significant change, starting with sales reps being automatically monitored and having their activities analysed.
Sales targets are an essential component of any business strategy. When leaders set unrealistic goals, however, they open their business to massive risk.
The dangers of overly aggressive sales leadership and the resulting hungriness of staff to satisfy management are highly evident. A fifth of employees and a third of senior executives now claim they can justify offering cash payments in return for business, according to the latest Europe, Middle East, India and Africa fraud report from professional services firm EY. A fifth of managers would be willing to book revenues early to meet targets.
Driverless cars, transport as a service, high-speed rail, supersonic flight and passenger drones. The list of travel innovations goes on. Governments are loosening the law to turn their countries into research hubs, and transport and technology companies are pouring billions into development.
In such circumstances, change is bound to be rapid. But there are serious questions over whether consumers want all this technology.
Direct Line Group wants to help bridge the gap between manufacturers and the insurance industry. How will it do this?
- We are engaging in crucial dialogue with manufacturers to help understand the risk impact of automation and ultimately autonomous cars. These vehicles present insurers with a challenge and an opportunity.
Technology is already helping improve safety and the driving experience, and the value for us is understanding how such cars change the traditional motor risks and liabilities we underwrite. In the long term, with more sophisticated driving technology, humans will effectively be co-driving with robots, and the challenge is unpicking where responsibility and liability lie in any given incident.
Businesses have long generated data with nearly every operation, but until recently employee behaviour was not automatically tracked.
The opportunity to improve productivity has changed practice. Using monitoring technology, companies are discovering which parts of the office work well, what times staff are active and where people congregate.
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Emerging liability risks are a constant threat to all industries selling products or services and to the insurers protecting them.
Big businesses and industries worldwide dread another “asbestos situation”. The dreadful lung problems caused by asbestos resulted in massive commercial damages in the form of lawsuits totaling more than $200 billion. From a business perspective, risk in new operations and products is enormous, and big companies are constantly watching for the next asbestos scandal among their risks.
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The power and popularity of wearable technology as a generator of health data and the developing potential of genomics are well-discussed issues in the insurance industry. The sharing economy and shifting social factors also mean people visualise risk in new ways.
Insurers want to offer security in ways that appeal to these emerging customer demands. But they are faced with myriad potential practical steps they could take.
A selection of my writing.