The future of sales may not be what you expect in the B2B market. You've probably heard how much of retail sales has gone automated thanks to specialized software and tools that attract customers to various products. It turns out that self-service e-commerce is a huge part of B2B sales as well.
The reason B2B marketers face a crossroads in 2016 is that Forrester, one of the leading consulting firms in the world, predicts that up to 1 million salespeople will lose their jobs by 2020 due to automation and self-service e-commerce. How does technology replace good, old-fashioned sales instincts? Why does 20 percent of B2B sales staff become obsolete in four years? There are several reasons the future of sales looks bright and bleak at the same time.
The same Forrester data that predicts the job losses also states that 75 percent of B2B buyers prefer to make purchases for work online; however, only 25 percent of B2B sellers offer their products online. The move to online B2B products, such as bulk office products bought en masse, affects jobs outside of salespeople. Administrative people who take orders, pass along messages and follow up sales leads may also lose positions. People who stock warehouses and fulfill orders may also face job cuts with the adoption of self-service e-commerce modules.
Fortunately for salespeople, there are ways to mitigate the possibility of losing a job to automation. All you need to do is adapt, innovate and commit to having the best possible customer outcomes. As everything moves to faster and less expensive ways to interact with customers, there are three ways to prove your worth as a salesperson in a time of increasing self-service e-commerce technology.
1. Adapt Quickly
Adapt quickly to new situations, technology and concepts. Do your homework, and research trends that potential customers find valuable. Aside from using current technology to run data analyses, talk to people within your industry to get a feel for what's happening. Reach out through social media, LinkedIn and email to colleagues in your network. Find out what makes companies tick, consult with your team members, and get as many perspectives as you can before talking to a major lead.
2. Create a Vision
Customers need to be able to see where they end up when they sign with your company. All of the self-service e-commerce technology in the world can't show big clients how your products or services help their bottom line, growth potential and market share. That's why sales teams need humans to wrap up sales pitches with visions of the future. If you're the person who can do that for customers, you have job security for years to come.
3. Solve Problems
After you create a vision, it's time to solve problems for your customers. Generate a strategy in your proposal that's unique. The solution should close a compelling case about how your company's strategy can't be replicated anywhere else — this is where you convince clients that they need you just as much as you need them.
All three of these concepts add value to a sales proposal. Self-service e-commerce technology can't accomplish that feat, so that's where you step in to win the day.
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