Why Marty McFly would make a great salesperson

21st October 2015 is the date Marty McFly arrived in the future in the iconic film Back to the Future. Whilst we might not be whizzing around on hoverboards (well not in my town anyway!) imagine being Marty and glimpsing at future trends such as listening to our music on a tiny device that fits into a pocket or a company that customers can’t get enough of such as Amazon.

Great forward thinkers like Apple and Amazon (and many more) didn’t have a Delorean to take them into the future, but they did have the ability to anticipate what we would want even before we knew we wanted it! This great ability is called customer foresight and we all need to develop it in our organisations if we want to excel at selling and serving and remain one step ahead of the competition.

Most organisations have some insight activity focused on the needs, goals and problems customers currently have and how they can help them, but customer foresight is a different thing entirely. This is about solving problems before the buyer realises it’s a problem.

It’s not about mind reading as it’s not in the customers mind. They can’t tell you because they don’t know it yet. That’s not their job, it’s yours! It could be as simple as analysing what’s out there and providing something better or a much more complex approach. Either way, you need to have the right culture and mindsets in place. This means everyone in the organisation strives to be the best they can be for your customer and there is a long term focus on anticipating and solving problems and needs before they arise.


Hold a meeting with a good representation of the organisation present and discuss how you could gather information on the future needs of current and potential customers.

Think about –

  • The bigger picture for customers outside of your current offering
  • How the world is changing and how potential future events may affect customers’ needs
  • How you can bring foresight into the awareness of everyone in the organisation

Create an environment that supports and nurtures this thinking and you too could be more like Marty Mcfly!

Have a go at bringing your focus back to the future! ​