If you have a monopoly, then your reward is a quiet life, one devoid of having to deal with competition. But most firms face changing competition, threats to their installed base, and quarterly investor expectations — all of which place sometimes conflicting demands on sales efforts. Sales forces are expected to both:
Maintain the current business: Be predictable and consistent. Because the company relies on existing sources of revenue to keep the business going, sales faces constant pressure to “make the numbers” and focus on the short term. “Nothing happens until you make a sale” and achieve target numbers, and there are typically firm-wide consequences if you don’t.
Adapt to the new: Keep innovating. Current numbers are important, but preparing for future needs creates the necessary foundation for profitable growth. Sales must also generate new sources of revenue and so learn to sell new products, through expanded channels and applications, to new customer segments. This becomes more critical as market life cycles shorten and the time in which companies can maintain product differentiation shrinks.