Are salespeople still needed? The world of sales has changed dramatically over the past few years. Willy Loman, immortalized over 70 years ago in Death of a Salesman – excuse the lack of gender sensitivity, it was a different time, but the message is universal – foretold the shifting sands of how successful salespeople would have to adapt their efforts to get customers to buy.
The Impact of Technology
Over the past few decades, customer relationship management (CRM) tools revolutionized the way salespeople could manage all aspects of the customer interactions. Smart phones put the same power and information in a palm-sized tool. Salespeople used to collect a pile of pink phone messages, and sometimes take days to respond. Now, the expectation is to get a response in minutes and hours!
Of greater impact is the ability of the client to serve themselves. With Internet-based access to data and the predictive power of artificial intelligence, potential buyers can do research and make purchases with little or no need to interact with salespeople.
This innovation creates higher expectations in the customer. They want instant information, customer reviews, technical specifications and the best price. In many fields, products have become commodities, because there is little difference between Company A or B’s toaster. Disintermediation occurs when you remove a step in the buying process.
Innovative companies have made a fortune on the volume of sales they can make around the world using the Internet. Bar codes and online shopping carts have replaced order-takers or salespeople who add little or no value to the buying experience other than accepting their payment. And a good website is a lot less expensive than a salesperson, never mind a team of salespeople.
Are Salespeople Still Needed?
Is this the ‘death of the salesman?’ Not for the smart ones. While technology alters the buying experience, there is still a need for knowledgeable, innovative salespeople. Those who can help customers to purchase the more complex, more expensive and more customized product at times when a mistake could be expensive or even fatal. Salespeople can demystify the product or make comparisons between products that help customers clarify their options and buy exactly the right product.
Innovation makes it easier to buy commodities. Salespeople can help customers to make more difficult decisions. Salespeople will continue to be relevant as long as there are complex problems to solve. That is, if they become more knowledgeable than their customers, and serve the customer better than their competitors.
To learn more about ways to serve your customers and demystify the sales process, you can visit the Pure Selling web page.