The role of the seller has been constantly in transition since the rise of the internet. Digital developments started with websites such as more or less static brochures, while the dynamics of digitization now require permanent adjustments. In recent years, social media have changed the communication between companies and their customers, nowadays big data and Artificial Intelligence are becoming more important. Moreover, millennials are emerging in the workplace. To be successful in the future, sales professionals must adapt. We list the most important developments.
1. Customers have different expectations.
Buyers are already doing a lot of preparation for the actual purchase and have already focused extensively online. They no longer need information about products, but expect a solution for their own situation. Not a standard product, but tailor-made and sales play a crucial role here.
In addition, the traditional funnel, where all buyers follow the same process step by step, is now obsolete. Nowadays, discovering, evaluating, involving and experiencing customers are mixed up. It is the job of sales to help customers with these partly simultaneous processes. Digital means play a role in the information process of customers, but with the actual purchase, sales are becoming increasingly important to deliver customized work.
2. Digital means to attract and bind
The best sales organizations are easy to find online. SEO helps to attract visitors to the website; not as a product catalog, but to increase brand awareness. In other words: not showing what you have, but how you can help. Most buyers have at most two brands in their head, so a top of mind position is very valuable.
3. Big data replaces gut feeling
Big data is not a hype. Over the past two years, more data has been produced than in the entire history of humanity. The internet is becoming faster and more devices are being connected, so that organizations measure and know more. By analyzing data, companies can make better decisions. Costs are lower, marketing is more effective and innovations are more in line with demand.
4. Artificial Intelligence delivers the best leads
Artificial intelligence (the English abbreviation AI is more established) is a great opportunity for sellers, which is rarely used. It enables sales professionals to gain more and better insight into (potential) customers, thereby increasing the chances of success. Closer cooperation with marketing and business development colleagues can be very fruitful.
5. Millennials require a different approach
Millennials and Generation Z, people born after 1985, are becoming increasingly important in the workplace, also as a buyer. As digital natives, they are used to customized information, authentic relationships and corporate social responsibility. To be successful with this group it is important that companies work transparently and efficiently with a solution-oriented attitude of the entire sales team.
6. Account based selling is on the rise
On the customer side, the typical individual buyer is increasingly being replaced by a team. Instead of focusing on the transaction, sales of the future revolve around trust, relationships and the creation of value without selling. Customers seek understanding for their needs and want solutions. This makes the sales cycle longer. The most successful sellers have fewer accounts that they spend more time on.
7. Attracting sales talent requires a new course
It is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to recruit suitable sales talents. Toppers are stuck and are not looking for another job. Traditional recruitment yields less and less. The roles in the labor market have been reversed: employers must apply to candidates with modern means.
The radical developments in b2b sales require new approaches. Internally it is important to seek more connection with marketing and business development for an integrated customer approach. And externally it is necessary to focus on the most promising clients.