Death Of A B2B Salesman, a recent report from Forrester Research, predicts that one million U.S. B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service e-Commerce by 2020.
Fear over technology displacing sales jobs is nothing new. The same concerns arose following the advent of the phone and the Internet. Salespeople didn’t die then — they adapted.
In addition, according to a multitude of recent studies, the sales industry is evolving and actually entering a period of expansion. The U.S. Department of Labor projects employment for sales managers will increase by 8% through 2022, while employment of sales engineers, wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives is expected to grow by 9%.
In addition, the 2015 CareerBuilder.com U.S. Job Forecast Study cites sales jobs as the No. 1 job employers are currently looking to fill, ranking 10% higher than technical positions. This is a significant increase from even the previous year, when sales positions also ranked No. 1.
There is positively no doubt that digital marketing and e-Commerce are dramatically changing the way we do business. However, the businesses that adapt and incorporate new technologies across their organizations will beat out their competitors.
Below are six reasons why technology will not represent the death of the B2B salesperson:
1) Studies Show B2B Buyers Want Sales Involved Earlier In The Process. New research from the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA), shows that 70% of B2B buyers want to engage with salespeople early in the sales process. ITSMA polled nearly 300 senior executives who were buying complex solutions valued at more than $500,000.
2) Large B2B Purchases Require A Human Touch. In companies where the transaction value or complexity is above a certain threshold, the sales team needs to get involved early to help shape and develop opportunities. Ultimately, for high-dollar B2B purchases buyers want to deal directly with human beings to develop relationships, perhaps negotiate and to get certain assurances.
3) Buyers Increasingly Expect Customized Solutions. In the age of solution sales, buyers expect offerings to be customized to meet their unique requirements. Since buyers are more informed about their needs, they insist on an informed seller who can add value beyond that supplied by online marketing materials. A salesperson is needed to accommodate a more complex buying environment. Direct one-to-one interaction and conversations are still absolutely critical and necessary.
4) Outbound Sales Teams Are Needed To Drive New Business. While digital marketing departments are equipped to handle inbound inquiries, companies need aggressive and effective outbound sales teams to achieve growth. Outbound salespeople are the critical drivers of new business opportunities.
5) Sales Automation And Digital Marketing Are Significant Investments. Senior executives who are determined to replace their sales division to save money should understand that the cost of leveraging sales automation and digital marketing technology is actually very high. In addition, this approach requires a number of core competencies that many companies are still lacking.
6) Technology Enhances Relationships, It Doesn’t Replace Them. Thanks to social media and Big Data, the amount of information marketers have about their clients has never been greater. As a result, selling is more scientific and structured than ever before. The top salespeople are technologically adept and inclined to use every tool and piece of data available to them to win business. The ability to know more about the purchasing habits of consumers provides sales teams with an unprecedented ability to foster strong relationships.
Eliot Burdett is the Co-Founder and CEO of Peak Sales Recruiting, a B2B sales recruiting company launched in 2006. The company works with a wide range of clients, including boutique, mid-size and world-class companies such as P&G, Gartner, Deloitte, Merck and Western Union. He also co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast.