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The Key to Boosting Market Performance? All Roads Lead to Talent

The State of Sales and Industrial Marketing 2021: Putting Industry 4.0 Into Practice – 2nd edition report presents a series of challenges for the manufacturing industry, especially when in the context of the present and future of work. Nick Gill, Regional Vice President — Manufacturing, Automotive, Mining, Oil and Gas at Salesforce unpacks the key findings.

Our industry is steeped in tradition and history, which on one hand is a great and noble thing. On the other hand, it means that recent demands for workplace transformation have left us a little behind the curve. But while we may not have the immediate ability to stay as light on our feet as others, there are a number of ways we can drive positive outcomes through change while still respecting what’s come before.

Many roads lead to the need for appropriate talent

Superior customer experience (CX), sales effectiveness and sales forecasting are on face value, very different metrics of organisational success. However, it’s increasingly apparent that one factor can improve the performance of all three: talent acquisition. 

What I mean is that implementing modern strategies, processes and technologies is the first step in attracting the right talent. And by “right” talent I mean those with the unique (and often digital/data-driven) skills that can help manufacturing carve out its territory in the new normal. 

The State of Sales and Industrial Marketing report underlines this need for innovation on the above metrics clearly. Cutting-edge sales technology is a key performance driver, yet only 18% of executives strongly agree that they work with such tech. Similarly, sophisticated sales forecasting analytics is a key performance driver, yet only 17% of executives strongly agree that they have access to such analytics.

And when it comes to CX performance, strong cross-functional support is key, yet only 25% of executives strongly agree that they have such support. 

All three statistics could increase by attracting the right talent with the right digital and technology skills.

Attracting the right talent to manufacturing

Getting the right people in the right positions to improve on the key metrics that drive success requires action on multiple fronts. 

Manufacturers need to embrace the future by being innovative, adaptable and change-management focused. In many cases, attracting the right talent isn’t only a case of upgrading systems, technologies and processes, but creating the right roles that will harness those upgrades. 

For example, the manufacturing industry is relatively new to digital — but we all know how important it is to the future of work. To implement and make efficient use of new digital marketing systems or sales platforms, you need talent that can work with data and analytics, which for many manufacturers is foreign territory. 

Yes, training and enablement of existing employees is also imperative, but there’s no denying that new waves of talent bring with them new sets of skills. 

Stemming off from the need for digital skills is the challenge to navigate what is an even newer space for manufacturing: social media. Whether selling to both businesses and consumers, or only direct to businesses and dealing with consumers via warranties, manufacturers need to consider how they can nurture great CX and relationships through social media. Once again, creating the right roles to service such outcomes will attract the right talent.

The Great Resignation and the future of work

If you’re yet to hear about The Great Resignation, it’s a phenomenon that began in the US, where large percentages of workers across all industries quit their jobs due to practical, personal and philosophical reasons after the COVID-19 pandemic threw everything into disarray.

This phenomenon has spread around the world, with Australia set to experience its own wave of resignations. Research conducted by PwC and Deloitte revealed that almost 40% of workers are planning to find a new job in the next 12 months.

While this mass exodus might sound daunting, it creates great opportunity for our industry. Manufacturing employee demographics are already shifting, with the older generation moving towards retirement. We are in a prime position to develop a workplace culture that attracts talent not only through modernised positions, but through pivoting towards the new workplace normal — offering flexibility, hybrid work options and dynamic employee experiences.

Even though 41% of surveyed executives say that increasing both flexibility and adaptability in service of a new workplace culture is their biggest challenge, we are moving into a timeline where that challenge can be more readily met. 

In other words, we have all the insights and opportunities to improve on all mentioned metrics with the right talent. We may have to do so over a longer period of time than other industries, but with innovation and focus, we are guaranteed to make great strides in the right direction. 

Nick Gill

Nick Gill is RVP, Sales - Manufacturing, Mining and Automative at Salesforce Australia and New Zealand.

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