Monday, 22 August 2011

Sales Forecasting, Futurists and Science Fiction - it's geektastic!

Sales forecasting - considering where future business will come from ,has always been an important part of the sales role but never easy especially in our technological age.

By 2015, it is estimated, there will be 15 billion devices able to connect to the Internet that’s more  than the number of people on the planet

Synthetic Biology  undertaken by "Self-organizing Systems laboratories" at Universities across the world, research into the possibilities of biological machines.  Working on DNA and bacteria they are looking to ways to produce bio-fuels , food, and  biological sensors.
'Futurists' imagine and document what could be the implications of such things.
Will all this speeding up technology mean the slowing down of humanity?  Are people to become just a consumer ? What if our Buyer/client or we as salespeople can’t think what we or  (s)he needs?
Perhaps Science Fiction has a role in helping us think about such questions
What are the relationships we will have with technology?
First perhaps we need to get into a geek mindset.

Harry Potter films could be viewed as science fiction .

 Are his spells merely "Apps" and what is the operating system of his wand?

At the moment there is a fascinating free exhibition at the British Library , Kings Cross London on genuine Science Fiction. It is called "Out of this world". Closes on September 25th 2011.

The British Library show covers science fiction with zones such as 'alien worlds','future worlds', 'parallel worlds', 'virtual worlds', 'end of the world' and 'perfect world?'

I had always thought it was writers such as H.G. Wells who started the whole Science fiction genre but of course it is all much older than that as the show explained.

 Lucian of Samasota describes a voyage to the moon in his True History  c  AD 160, even a thousand years before that -Homer's Iliad describes the god Hephaestus who made automatons such as the mechanical tripods which move back and forth to the feasting-hall in Olympus.

Talking of feasting - Sales and Marketing were quick to exploit the popularity of modern era science fiction. In one of the British Library displays was an early trade card of 1890 for the beef drink Bovril now owned by Unilever.

The card displayed three Bovril jars which had sprouted arms and legs holding up the world as if they were Atlas.

Apparently the brand name was inspired by Edward Bulwer - Lytton's science fiction novel The Coming Race. The Vril-ya race in the book gained their power and strength from an electromagnetic substance 'Vril'. 
In naming their product- the beef content was represented by the latin bos( bovis) and prefixed to the strength of Vril - BOVRIL.

Both in fiction and movies ,Science Fiction has been the harbinger of many later real products.  Social, Mobile and Local communications ( SoMoLo) was predicted by  a number of writers.

 So maybe Salespeople might find it is worth reading some science fiction not merely for its great entertainment value, its possible scientific predictions but also as indication of future business culture.
  • What kind of future will we have  to sell in?

  • What are you excites about  our modern age and what concerns you as a salesperson?

  •  What is your wish for future of selling?

Science and technology has progressed to the point where what we build seems to be only constrained by the limits of our own imaginations.

 The future of selling is built everyday by the actions of people.

 It's up to all of us to be active participants in the future and these conversations can do just that.

Perhaps Science fiction can assist us in our adventure.

Here are some of the quotes displayed at the exhibition - which could have resonance for the future of selling.
"It is change , continuing change that is the dominant factor in society today" Isaac Asimov

"What the writers of modern fiction invent today you and I will do tomorrow" J,C Ballard

"The distinction between the past, present & future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion" Albert Einstein

"We need men that can dream of things that never were."  John F Kennedy

In addition to Science fiction authors in our own time we have secular prophets of our day called futurists and some are also science fiction authors.

Futurists you may care to follow
Gerd Leonhard:

 Here are some notes of his ideas and thoughts  from one of Gerd's presentations

Consider the frame(work) not just the picture ie.It is not about the technology but how we use it.
The web is always on , interconnected and mobile.
 Conventional broadcasting is being superseded by networked business. Gerd reckons total fragmentation is certain.
We are moving from the network to the networked. The new era is total mobile empowerment. 
This will mean an era of mind share attention and trust.
For example -The most credible source for information about a brand  on a social networking site according to Internet User worldwide InSights Consulting  March 2010

A consumer                         38%

The Brand itself                  32%

Journalist                             7%

Marketer                             3%

other                               1%

Connectivity  Social and Mobile Gerd considers, is changing the very definition of Selling, Paying.. and Value.
Whatever you are selling you are in the audience.

No longer  are Businesses and their leaders the directors only but now connectors.
Connectedness to like-minded folk is the new social commerce.

 68% of US Facebook users in March 2010 were more likely to buy a product or visit a retailer based on a positive Facebook friend referral.
Gerd challenges us with the question Are we providing enough social oxygen?   For example of the top US retailers 18% had videos on their websites in 2006 by 2009 68%.
He describes Advertising 2.0 as
  • With-vertising,
  • Cont-vertising,
  • Me-vertising
– Messages have to be engaged, mobile, social and emotional.
Gerd advocates that communication should now be through story telling across all platforms. ( TV, Film Ipad, Kindle, Gaming,PC Mobile, Print etc)

The future of selling means
involving the users,
giving something,
all brands will be networked, 

Our entire Media and communications Infrastructure is becoming real time.

 It is changing how we Value , Price, Reason, Timing, Package and  Trust.

He cites the crisis of legal downloading in Music, Television and Films and points to data on how much people will pay for legal copies.

 Gerd suggests “ Data is the new Oil”  He showed a slide of increase in US Social media Marketing spending amongst B2B community

Social networking sites             43%

Webinars                                    26 %

Search engines                          17%

Company website                        7%

Gerd Leonhard   Gerd Leonhard

Another futurist site worth visiting:


The Tomorrow Project engages in ongoing discussions with superstars, science fiction authors and scientists to get their visions for the world that's coming and the world they'd like to build.

Authors Douglas Rushkoff, Ray Hammond, Scarlett Thomas and Markus Heitz  have created short stories about the technology of tomorrow on this site that you can download.
Brian David Johnson Intel's Futurist
Doctor Who's TARDIS ( Time and Relative Dimension In Space) lands at Olympia Exhibition Centre, London

"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without we would go nowhere" Carl Sagan

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