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According to the Harvard Business Review, customers don’t need salespersons the way they used to. Is that good or bad for sales managers? Let’s look at how sales have changed over the last 15 years and let’s try to estimate just how much more things will change in the near future.
In the beginning of the 21st century, sales were still being done on the field. Speaking directly to a customer was common, and so was traveling from one country to another just to meet with a potential client. On the one hand, this was advantageous for the buyer, as business came to them. On the other hand, although the sale per say was the main goal, this proved to be counterproductive and very time-consuming for the sales manager.
At the exact moment when the contract would have been signed, the sales manager would have spent countless hours in a car, in a plane or in some other means of transportation, in the hopes that the meeting would have been successful.
Granted, nothing beats meeting a client in person. That’s why people are still doing it. Communication skills can often times play their part when shaking a man or a woman’s hand. However, meeting prospective buyers who live overseas is very hard to manage, particularly when the salesperson is not sure of the outcome of the negotiation. Also, sometimes you want to sell something big or expensive to people overseas. In this case, video conferencing is a great tool because it increases the reach of the sales person and helps build trust via visual communication.
Even now, there sometimes is little to no work-life balance in the busy schedule of a sales manager.
In 2011, Gartner predicted that by 2020, approximately 85% of customer relationships will be managed without a direct human interaction. Buyers can now make decisions without the help of a representative, and the countless purchases that are being performed online on a daily basis are proof. More surprisingly, a Corporate Executive Board study shows that 60% of a buying decision occurs before talking to a sales rep.
In 2013, Gerhard Gschwandtner, Selling Power CEO, estimated that by 2020 80% of B2B transactions will be automated. According to Gschwandtner, video conferencing technology will be the main method used by both teams and sales reps. Eventually, web conferencing will become so important that telesales will be anachronistic.
Of course, it very much depends on what you are selling. The likelihood is that if, for example, you’re selling software development at a very high price, the client will want to meet you in person and maybe even visit your company office to also meet the team. Especially since these kinds of collaborations are oftentimes long lasting and trust is built over time.
Unlike past times, the salesperson nowadays does not have the task of informing the customer. In fact, the customer can oftentimes complete the job of getting informed on their own. Nevertheless, adding value to a purchase can be done by a salesperson, particularly if they are capable of understanding and resonating with the needs of the client. For example, our customers inform themselves about Veeting online but often they still call and want a live presentation.
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Sales and marketing have greatly evolved in the last decades, and that’s all thanks to technology. Cold calling has not been entirely replaced by email marketing and newsletters but they all go hand-in-hand while the Yellow Pages have been replaced by websites. Sales reps now have to embrace technology and start abiding by its rules. Furthermore, they should feel compelled to utilize online tools which can simplify and quicken the sales process.
While adapting to the requirements of new and improved tools might seem daunting, they undoubtedly offer net advantages when it comes to time management. Therefore, representatives will see themselves compelled to keep up with the new technologies and have a more efficient and analytical thinking, which can be integrated into various marketing automation techniques.
By 2020, sales and marketing are likely to converge, according to Kyle Porter, CEO of Salesloft. Porter claims that salespersons are likely to shift from an individualistic way of thinking to an organization-oriented one and gradually start working towards the same goals that they share with marketing managers.
Sales in 2020 are likely to be completed with a baffling speed. Therefore, sales managers have to improve their skill sets towards integrating both operational and social mentalities.
All these efforts will greatly impact the sales manager’s life. For one, they might need to travel less often, which will allow them to spend more time with their family.
Secondly, video and web conferencing will give them the opportunity to grow and nurture the relationships they’ve built with their existing clients, without them leaving the premises of the office building.
Acquiring new clients may prove to be easier and more effective by using the formerly mentioned methods, as reps will have the freedom to explain the features of the service or the product even by using body language.
Visual aspects are never to be overlooked or underestimated. More often than not, using visual elements during a sales presentation or pitch can actually boost customers’ trust and make your brand stick. There are video conferencing technologies that allow you to achieve that level of personalisation. Salespeople can actually personalise the meeting room so that it looks more professional by uploading their company logo and making use of different colours that represent the brand.
By using branded video conferencing rooms, you create a personalised environment that will make you and your customers feel more at ease and further eliminate the barriers associated with physical distance. Of course, ease of use remains a top priority. Your customers should be able to access the meeting with a single click, without installing any extra software and with the minimum amount of hassle involved.