Why We Still Need Salespeople

Sean Gordon, CEO of Intelliverse

Forrester recently reported that 1 million B2B salespeoplewill become obsolete by 2020, citing advancements in sales and marketing technologies as the culprit. Sales and marketing automation technologies have certainly seen a significant amount of growth in the B2B sector within the last few years.

In 2015 alone, numerous startups have raised millions of dollars in capital dedicated to advancing sales technology. But this doesn’t mean salespeople will become obsolete. In fact, I believe in the coming years, they’ll become more important than ever.

Adapting to Change
The sales industry encountered an interesting shift when emails started taking over business communication. Phone calls had long been the standard approach to sales, but salespeople needed to adapt and integrate this new form of communication into their strategy. The rise of sales and marketing technologies is creating a similar conundrum for salespeople today. Sales teams will need to adapt and integrate emerging technology into their sales strategy instead of accepting them as their replacements.

Forrester’s study, Death of a (B2B) Salesman, states that digital B2B sales channels are here to stay – a fact that I don’t think is up for debate. Equipped with the proper tools, salespeople will work in tandem with technology, giving them the ability to execute more effective sales strategies. The incorporation of new technologies to sales teams in the coming months and years will create technology-enabled salespeople, not one or the other. Ultimately, these sales and marketing technologies will help salespeople do their jobs better and with more power than ever before.

In response, salespeople will need to evolve their role with added technology. As Forrester’s study points out, buyers are no longer reaching out to salespeople for basic information. Buyers are now able to research and even purchase products and services via do-it-yourself online options.

The Salesperson’s Shifting Role
Therefore, the job of a salesperson will become much more consultative in nature. Salespeople will focus more narrowly on building relationships with prospects and having personalized conversations, two factors instrumental in increasing loyalty. Technology may be able to assist with lead generation, but it can’t replace human interaction or build relationships. Buyers still need to trust that salespeople have their back – no matter what. They need to validate the soundness of their judgements or receive assurances on their opinions in order to feel confident and justified in their purchasing decisions.

Salespeople are able to have discussions with B2B buyers about products and services that can fit their unique needs versus listing off facts already available online. While buyers certainly have the option to purchase products via an online platform and pass them off to IT for implementation, this may not always be the best option for companies, especially if there is a complex decision making process involved.

Advancements in sales and marketing technologies will no doubt change the function of a salesperson’s role but these technological advancements will not make salespeople a thing of the past. The growth of these technologies validates the fact that the industry is still important and one that it is here to stay. Now, it’s the job of companies to outline best practices for sales teams and properly implement these new technologies for today’s savvy buyers in order to accelerate and improve the entire sales process.

Sean Gordon, is CEO of Intelliverse, a global leader in sales accelerated solutions to drive speed in creating qualified prospects and faster revenue generation.

Want to read more on the topic of why the B2B sales role is shifting but not disappearing? Read our Q&A with Geoff Colvin, author of “Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will.”