As a sales professional, my perception has always been that the sales force is the most vital part of a company. Typically it’s half the company.
If sales is half the company, then it has to be the most important.
Does the sales force continue to bring in the most money? Or, is it marketing?
Let’s be honest, customers don’t like sales.
What is the future of sales?
These are valid considerations, as the cost of a sales force is astronomical. Also, with more of the buying process online, there are more customer acquisition opportunities.
This begs the question, what is the role of the sales force today, as well as in the future?
I believe the sales representative’s role is changing. It is going to morph into a combination of marketing, account management, and a product specialist. All of which are selling.
The traditional sales force
The role of the sales force is to manage their subset of customers. A business manager or a Franchisee.
With some marketing support, they freely manage their own area.
Sales professionals spend their week cold calling, following up and providing demos. If this is territory sales, there is significant time spent driving between appointments.
In this model, there is, unfortunately, a lot of expenses and wasted time. Before so much of the buying process occurred online, this made sense. This sales process is shifting.
The online buying process
The role of the sales professional is changing, as a result of the buying process moving online.
The future of sales means needing to have their own digital toolbox. This is having their own SEO plans, social media presence, and blog. Social selling. All to assist with the customer acquisition process.
Through online interaction, you can create frequent, high-value contact with customers.
Evidence suggests that 70% of the buying decision occurs before speaking to a sales professional. Thus, the sales professional needs to find a way for their product to be introduced during that process.
What is the future of sales?
If the role of sales is shifting to accommodate the new buying process, does compensation change?
Yes. Compensation can shift customer satisfaction, customer retention, and gaining new business. It will no longer be sales professionals cold calling with a 2% success rate.
The role of the sales professional will be to provide in-field service and support. Also, build their own local influence, promotions, and marketing.
It will be less time driving around and far more time in an office curating information and content. This is how customers are going to seek solutions.
Again, nobody wants to talk with the sales professional first. They might be sold a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist (no sales professional has ever done this).
The prospects want to do thorough research, then speak with a sales professional. Either confirm what they found or find an “expert” opinion. This is why you want to be the person that provides the “expert” opinion.
This shift is easy to discuss in theory, but harder to put into action. This will require more tech savvy professionals and who can manage their online presence. Those who can build a client list.
This is not the death of a sales professional. More a shift where the sales professional becomes their own sales and marketing department. Owning their territory and customers.
The goal is to be called when the customer reaches the buying decision.
Good luck and good selling!