The three biggest threats facing business professionals in Australia

Times are changing for the traditional business professional.

Having spent close to thirty years in sales, the majority of my colleagues are complaining about how much more difficult and competitive life has become for B2B sales people compared to the last few decades.

This harsh experience is not unique to the sales community either.

Technology is evolving at a faster and faster pace, and ongoing advancements will see a tidal wave of automation transforming industries far and wide. This is on top of the on-demand economy shaking up legacy industries like transportation, accommodation and real-estate, and millennials fast taking over the workforce. Businesses are now forced to act and ensure they undergo digital transformation before they become irrelevant.

So what exactly is in store for traditional business professionals?


The looming fear that automation will drive everyone out of a job is here to stay.

According to The Committee for Economic Development of Australia, up to five million local jobs, or 40 per cent of the Australian national workforce, will disappear in the next 10 to 15 years due to the myriad of accelerating technologies that will make routine and repetitive tasks an easy target for automation.

Every single industry will be affected and in my view the role of the salesperson risks being cut out of the business equation altogether.

Australian startups like MiSale are changing the traditional real-estate model by removing the real-estate agent and companies like Atlassian and Deputy are proving they don’t need traditional sales people to make a profit; no industry will be left unscathed by the force of automation.

On-demand economy

The rise of the on-demand economy is changing the way businesses across the board think about full-time work. Put aside Uber and Airbnb and consider the success of Expert360, which provides on-demand consulting talent for project work, and Workfast, which fulfils workplaces’ temporary staffing needs with quality, flexible workers.

The on-demand economy is not just a movement affecting traditional business either. A recent Startup Muster report revealed that 89.8 per cent of startups outsourced work in the last year, and of the primary countries that outsourced workers, Australia came in at number one by a significant lead.

The sales community is no exception when it comes to feeling the full impact of this ever-evolving trend. Smart businesses no longer need to hire full-time sales people. As a consequence, this has seen a rise in the number of freelance sales professionals in Australia.*

With Forrester estimating that one million B2B sales jobs will be axed by 2020, freelancing is an appealing – and necessary – option for workers of the future and for businesses to understand and embrace.

The millennial takeover

With 50 per cent of the global workforces predicted to be millennials by 2020 according to PwC, the writing is very much on the wall for the older generations: get with the program or face a very different employment future.

And startups are the jobs of the future.

PwC research reveals that startups in Australia alone have the potential to contribute over $100B to the GDP and create half a million new jobs by 2033.

What does this mean? Younger, savvy millennials will soon take all the roles and older workers face a big challenge to become digitally driven, socially connected and highly mobile (aka always “on”) in order to be valued.

A few years ago I saw these trends developing and decided to adopt to the new age. I founded SalesTribe because of the grim reality facing my colleagues and the industry. They are fighting to survive in the new, ultra-competitive, information-rich and consumer-led era. The ever-shifting business landscape at large can be an ominous one for people to grapple with, but businesses and professionals need to make sure they are equipping themselves with the latest learning and development programs, honing in on how to differentiate themselves from automation with unique skillsets and advisory offerings, and embracing – not resisting – the on-demand business economy.


Graham Hawkins, Co-Founder, SalesTribe