Salespeople: Are they Dinosaurs or Something Else?


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I read an interesting discussion on LinkedIn titled: How soon will the internet turn your salespeople into dinosaurs? Not surprisingly, this discussion generated a lot of comments – 132 to date. Some agreed that sales reps are an endangered species while others took the opposite approach, maintaining that sales professionals are essential to the success of most companies.

How do I feel about this? Well, I don’t think salespeople are dinosaurs and in fact they are very important in most B2B scenarios. But this doesn’t mean that the status quo will remain in force. In my book titled High Performance Interactive Marketing (published in 2001), I talked a great deal about disintermediation, which basically refers to the process of removing the middleman. And in the end-to-end marketing and sales process, salespeople are the middlemen between the company and the prospect. The crux of the question is: Are sales reps as necessary today as they were 10 years ago and will they be as necessary 10 years from now?  And if not, why not?

I encourage my clients to do everything they can to educate prospects before they engage with sales reps. And by educate, I mean being very specific about what you do as well as what you do not do. The idea is to get prospects to guide their own way through the first three parts of the sales process: awareness, education and self-qualification. Ideally, you then engage with prospects at the point where they already have a good idea of what they want and when you are on their short-list. This has the effect of shortening the sales cycle and increasing the close rate – two very good outcomes.  This will not make salespeople dinosaurs but it will certainly make them much more effective. 

To achieve this type of highly effective marketing and sales machine, marketing will have to up its game. This means a rock-solid value proposition and a very strong online presence. It also requires a level of cooperation between the sales and marketing departments and a commitment to doing everything possible to optimize and synergize the process.  

By the way, I mentioned there were many comments about this subject at the LinkedIn discussion group.  Here are two examples:    

“That’s what the Internet is doing … taking the intermediate layers out of the product/service delivery chain. There will always be salespeople, just fewer layers between the maker of a product/provider of a service and the consumer of that product or service.” (by Bryan Scott, President at Pacific Partners International)

What we are seeing is that Sales Teams are being composed of fewer, better, problem solver reps. The inexperienced reps who can only rattle off value propositions are the dinosaurs who are being replaced by the internet.” (by Paul Rafferty, CEO / Partner, Sales Engine International)

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Christopher Ryan
Christopher Ryan is CEO of Fusion Marketing Partners, a B2B marketing consulting firm and interim/fractional CMO. He blogs at Great B2B Marketing and you can follow him at Google+. Chris has 25 years of marketing, technology, and senior management experience. As a marketing executive and services provider, Chris has created and executed numerous programs that build market awareness, drive lead generation and increase revenue.


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