Has Sales changed in the last 10 years?
In my opinion fundamentally yes it has in some aspects, but also fundamentally no! (Confused? Read on and I will explain)
It always pains me, but salespeople don’t always have the best reputation. It’s sad, because as a dyed in the wool B2B salesperson, I know how conscientious many of us are, and how much time, energy and effort we put into helping our customers make the best decisions to enable them to get the maximum return on their investment.
But, I read recently that salespeople are being consigned to history and that, particularly in enterprise sales, we just aren’t needed anymore.
Nailing my colours firmly to the mast, I don’t believe that for a second!
Buying has changed and in the last 10 years it has massively – but people stay the same.
It’s true that customers are becoming more empowered. They research their purchases before they buy (we’re all doing that much more). They spend more time consuming content, reading reviews, scouring the options, watching videos and reading articles – all of which helping them make the right choice. Their approach to buying is different. They don’t want to talk to someone until they’ve done the research themselves.
In enterprise sales, there have been considerable changes in the last 10 years. The move to Cloud and SaaS solutions means that buyers are making a different type of decision.
We all search for answers first before we engage with a salesperson. It’s the norm now to go to Google, I say it and think it all the time “Google it!” and there is plenty of advice out there to help us. But information isn’t knowledge and features aren’t benefits, and it’s these that salespeople provide.
Yet, while the buying process has changed, enterprise buyers are still potentially responsible for a very high value purchase. For me, it’s here that sales professionals come into their own. They are still, in my opinion, a vital cog in the buying process, and I don’t believe there will ever be a time when they are completely redundant.
And here is where the mist and confusion clears! The fundamental change in the last 10 years is that the buying process has changed.
But what remains the same is that people still buy from people.
Lest we forget, businesses don’t make decisions, people do, and people buy from other people. The pressure of business challenges isn’t felt by the business, it’s felt by people. Businesses don’t grow and evolve by themselves, it’s real people that make it happen.
There is an old adage about relationships being the most important thing in sales. Where salespeople will always be invaluable is in the human-to-human interaction. I’ve seen this floating around the internet quite a few times in the last few years, but there is a suggestion that the traditional B2B and B2C sales has gone, and that human-to-human, or H2H sales, are now taking precedence.
I’ve never been one to be blown about by the winds of change, and I don’t think this is such revolutionary thinking anyway, but it makes business sense to put people in front of other people, when they need to make a decision. If you want to understand someone’s need, you’re much better off sitting down with them and talking about it than sending them to an online resource.
Having said all of the above, this is my own opinion based on 25 years as a selling professional, therefore I would love to hear what others think so please feel free to respond.
Sara Morley (@MorleySara)
BMC Performance & Analytics Specialist
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