Six reasons why technology won't kill B2B salespeople
A new report from Forrester Research called “Death of a B2B Salesman,” predicts that one million U.S. B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service e-commerce by 2020.
Fears over technology stealing sales jobs is nothing new, it happened following the advent of both the phone and Internet. Fortunately, the salesperson didn’t die then, they adapted, and according to a multitude of recent studies, the sales industry is evolving and actually entering a period of expansion.
The U.S. Department of Labor projects employment of sales managers will increase by eight percent through 2022, while employment of sales engineers, wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives are expected to grow by nine percent.
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In addition, the 2015 CareerBuilder.com U.S. Job Forecast Study ranks sales jobs as the number one job employers are currently looking to fill, ranking 10% higher than technical positions. This is a significantly increase from even last year when sales also ranked number one.
Amidst fear and speculation, the facts demonstrate that B2B businesses across North America are making strategic investments to staff their sales department with high-achieving, technologically savvy salespeople to bridge the gap between buyers and sellers that technology cannot fill.
There is positively no doubt that digital marketing and e-commerce are dramatically changing the way we do business. However, the businesses that adapt and incorporate new technology comprehensively across their organization will beat out their competitors.
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Eliot Burdett, CEO of Peak Sales Recruiting, a leading B2B sales recruiting company, has seen first-hand the growth in the B2B sales industry and offers 6 reasons why technology will not represent the death of the B2B salesperson.
1) Studies show B2B buyers want salespeople involved earlier: New research from the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA), shows that 70% of B2B buyers want to engage with salespeople early in the sales process. ITSMA did the research with almost 300 senior executives who were buying complex solutions valued at over $500,000.
2) Marketing disintermediation: While in many companies, marketing might be the primary owner of the digital relationship, in companies where the transaction value or complexity is above a certain threshold, the sales team needs to get involved early to help shape and develop opportunities. Ultimately, when large amounts of money are involved in B2B purchases, buyers want to deal directly with a human being to develop a relationship, perhaps negotiate and to get certain assurances.
3) Buyers increasingly expect customized solutions: In the age of solution sales, buyers expect solutions to be customized for their unique requirements. Since buyers are moreinformed about their needs, they expect an informed seller who can add value beyond that supplied by online marketing materials. A salesperson is needed to accommodate a more complex buying environment. Direct one-to-one interaction and conversations are still absolutely critical and necessary.
4) Outbound sales needed to drive new business: While digital marketing departments are equipped to handle inbound inquiries, to really drive revenue a company needs aggressive and effective outbound sales teams to achieve growth. Outbound salespeople are also the critical drivers of new business opportunities.
5) High cost of sales automation and digital marketing: Senior executives who are determined replace their sales division in order to save money should understand that the cost of leveraging sales automation and digital marketing technology is actually very high. It requires many core competencies, a willingness to invest big dollars, and very few have been successful.
6) Technology enhancing relationships, not replacing them: Through social media and big data, the amount of information we have about our clients has never been higher. As a result, selling is more scientific and structured today than ever before. The top percentile of salespeople are technologically savvy and inclined to use every tool and piece of data available to them to win business. The ability to know more about the purchasing habits of consumers allows sales teams unprecedented ability to foster strong relationships.
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About Eliot Burdett:
Eliot Burdett is the Co-Founder and CEO of Peak Sales Recruiting, a leading B2B sales recruiting company launched in 2006.
Under his direction, the company leads the industry with a success rate 50% higher than the industry average, working with a wide-range of clients including boutique, mid-size and world-class companies including P&G, Gartner, Deloitte, Merck, Western Union and others.
Prior to Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies by recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software) and served as Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.
Eliot received his Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner. He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast.
Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking
“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.
We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.
Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate.
With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.
There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.
Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture.
It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.
Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.
On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.
As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.
A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.