“Death of the B2B Salesperson” – Not as Scary as it Sounds!

October 9, 2018 | Melody Astley

According to Forrester Research, 59% of B2B buyers prefer not to interact with a sales rep, and 74% find buying from a website more convenient. With these stats, many are suggesting that the role of the sales rep is coming to an end. What is FinListics’ take on this stat?

Automation and digital transformation are impacting all types of roles – from taxi drivers to financial planners – it makes sense that sales roles will be impacted as well.  Automation also impacts buyer behavior, so we’ll explore why the market is responding to buyer preferences that support the Forrester research.

The “death of the B2B salesperson” is a widely debated topic.  Our take is that it’s bound to happen – it’s happening right now – but it’s not a big deal.  The market is asking for it. It is, however, a call to action for those sales professionals who want to rise above the commoditization of sales roles.

Let’s think about these stats from both a seller and buyer perspective.  As a sales leader, I’m always looking for ways to leverage technology and automation to make the sales process more efficient.  Take a non-strategic, transactional sale for example.  It’s expensive and wasteful to have too much human intervention in those deals – we want those transactions to be as “set it and forget it” as possible. Sales automation technologies have matured to the point where this is possible.  The result?  There’s less need for sellers to support these deals.  And that’s ok.  We want those buyers to buy from a website and not to interact with a sales rep.  For the more complex deals, though, it’s very important that a seller work with the client to educate them, not on features and functions, but on the business impact of your solution.  Automation won’t replace the need to articulate business value – the strategic seller will not go away. 

As a buyer, you want the same thing – you want to get what you want as hassle-free as possible.  While you’re on the website, you might have a quick question about a feature, so you’ll chat with someone.  In the new world of automation, that “someone” you might be talking to today is likely not even a person.  It used to be that sellers were the product experts and buyers had to talk to them to better understand features and functions, but that’s changed.  A feature/function discussion is now a commodity conversation, and as a commodity, it should be automated.  No sales rep needed.  When the stakes are high, though, buyers want to be educated beyond automated advice or information on a website – so they want to talk to someone who can advise on options and outcomes, and in a B2B sales environment, this person is the sales rep. 

It’s not all doom and gloom. There’s a call to action here. Companies are investing to be more efficient, and buyers are asking for a hassle- free experience.  Automation technologies make this a reality, and some sales roles will go away.  What we’ve seen, though, is that the seller who educates and demonstrates business impact will survive.  So, if you’re dedicated to the sales profession, think about where your role is headed and how you talk about your solutions and their impacts.  If you take the role of an adviser/ educator, then the “death of the B2B salesperson” doesn’t apply to you! 


Posted in Selling Strategies