By Dave Brock
As I reflected on the question, I think we can only discover the answer by changing the question, “Why do customers need sales people any more?”
Increasingly, the answer appears to be “They don’t!” We see all sorts of evidence supporting this. Customers are relying, increasingly, on other sources of information. They have solution provider web sites, influencers, referral sources, and other sorts of channels to learn about new solutions and how different supplier solutions might fit.
We also see customers voting with their time, they are becoming increasingly difficult to reach, they guard their time. Gartner data shows buying groups allocate roughly 17%* of their time to meeting with sales people (that’s not each person, that’s total).
We have all sorts of data showing how unhappy customers are with sales people: “They only talk about what they want to talk about,” “They don’t understand me and my business,” “They don’t understand their products,” or, “They waste my time.”
Sales leaders/managers are also doing things that seem to reduce the need for sales people–or perhaps SDRs. As they adopt strategies that, increasingly, try to make the buying process more transactional, one wonders, can there be a more effective way, further reducing the need for sales people, or at least SDRs. I wrote “What do Uber drivers and SDRs have in common,” as speculation about the future with fewer or no SDRs.
All of this seems to indicate the future of sales roles/jobs is pretty bleak. And it probably is unless sales people (driven by sales leaders/managers) change how we sell.
Stated differently, what the majority of sales people currently do creates little value to the customer. Unless we change significantly, customers will find other alternatives to help them buy.
After this very bleak set up, I’m extremely optimistic about the future of sales and selling! I think the demand for high value creating sales people will sky rocket, as a result the number of jobs for people that can fulfill this role will increase dramatically.
So the future is bright — but only for those sales people/leaders that can adapt to doing those things that create the greatest value for customers!
Here are some of my arguments:
- We’ve long known that customers struggle to buy. Gartner data shows 53% of buying decisions end in no decision made. These are customers that have an established problem and a need to buy, and funding. But they fail to navigate their buying group to a decision. The underlying reasons have little to do with selecting a soluton, but more to do in aligning the priorities, agendas, needs of the buying group and getting support up the management food chain. Great sales people, facilitating the customer buying process can help more of these people successfully complete their buying journey. Think of it, we (collectively) have the opportunity to nearly double our …read more
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