The world is changing for sales people. When information is available in abundance, buyers no longer need sales people to purchase commodity products. Harsh estimates say that the number of sales people will drop with as much as 75% over the upcoming 5 years.
The Internet and e-commerce is removing the need for sales people whose main task it was to inform potential buyers about their products. Buyers use the Internet to find information and social proof can be found on review sites and in social media. However, when the product or service becomes complex, and introduces more perceived risk for the buyer, the need for professional sales people is likely to increase in demand.
Sales is becoming polarized
Technology and global competition is polarizing buying decisions into more transactional or complex. Simpler, risk-free products can easily be researched and purchased online, whereas the decision process for risky and complex investments is becoming increasingly complex, as there’s now global competition and more stakeholders involved. Online, offerings look similar and it is easy to generalize, but a closer look reveals nuances that could be paramount.
A few decades ago, sales methodologies such as Spin Selling and Solution Selling were introduced, pointing to the importance for sales people to use methods to extract information from buyers and introduce and communicate value beyond the immediate benefits of the product or service. Recently we’ve seen updates to these methodologies and new ones with different names, such as the Challenger Sale by the CEB and Insight Selling by the Rain Group. The common denominator is a movement towards increased education and collaboration with customers.
Less people, more structure and professionalism
If your product or solution can’t be sold transactionally, without sales people, your people will need to up their bar. It is no longer sufficient to be a product expert. Sales (and marketing) people need more business acumen and skills to help buyers align and choose you as their vendor. Companies need to build more solid sales infrastructure and invest in people to grow the business. You will need to start doing things differently, which always hurts. Introducing new habits takes time and discipline. Make sure you update your sales process to reflect the new reality and train everyone accordingly.
Sales people will never become redundant
Yes, there will be less sales people in the future – but in complex sales environments they will become more important than ever. You better make sure they have everything needed to outperform your competition!
George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book
Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals