"One Million B2B Sales Jobs Eliminated by 2020."
5 years ago, Forrester made a prediction that, if you were in B2B sales, you saw.
“B2B buyers are living in a 2015 digital-first world, but B2B sellers are still living in a 1965 salesman-first world.”
eCommerce was coming for our jobs.
eCommerce - designed to be the ultimate removal of friction from the buying journey. Designed to provide all of the information a buyer needs for which they “typically” would receive from a human salesperson, right?
And what did the sales community do?
Looked in the mirror. Those who were essentially the profession’s drive-thru attendants, there to take your order (with a potential upsell to a combo-meal), stepped up.
Passionate sales professionals earned their way, with the help of an emboldened sales enablement profession, to a tantamount MBA in their craft - becoming an asset to prospects and customers - becoming the experts; essentially their professional personal trainers or doctors. The best professionals taught customers not just how to address issues, but to achieve more than they thought possible.
Voice mail was the death of the cold call. No wait...caller ID was the death of the cold call. No wait...eMail was the death of phone-based sales? eCommerce?
It's 2020. That Forrester prediction didn’t age well...
There will always be something around the corner. The newish “silence unknown callers” option on phones? Buyers staying remote post-pandemic? The true impact of AI?
Watching “The Last Dance” reminded me of why I’m doing what I do, but also how to ensure no prediction of the profession’s demise becomes a reality.
- Recognize your own complacency, and kill it: What worked yesterday won’t work for long. What worked in February doesn’t work here in May, right?
- Embrace the science: I’m trying my best along with a few others to bring the incredible advancements made in decision and behavioral science to the world of sales. When we optimize for the human brain, we become a wanted guide versus a necessary (or unnecessary) evil.
- Learn from eCommerce: Pay attention to your buying journey when you buy something of substance online. What is it about the experience that you like? Can you bring those elements to the B2B experience? Of course you can...
- Transparency: I'm sure you spend time looking at reviews...both the pros AND THE CONS. Be that source for the buyer. There's a reason why it works on a website - it helps you predict your own experience, which is essential to a purchase. And when the reviews are nothing but perfect 5.0's? It likely erodes your trust - you leave the site to do your homework elsewhere, and often never come back. Does that sound familiar to the way you present solutions to prospects?
- Brevity: You ever notice that websites communicate very clearly, in bullet form, minus a lot of the fluff? Learn the craft of brevity in your messaging. Communicate in bullets versus novels. Get to the point quickly.
- Firmographic & demographic focus: When we buy, we want to talk to someone who truly knows more than we do. If you’re not focused, it’s hard to know more than your buyer.
- Pick a vertical among your territory list where you know your organization has experienced success. Learn everything about it.
- Determine your ideal buyer - their role and level. Then learn everything about it - the job, the challenges, what they read, what they listen to, and become an expert. You won't be able to avoid being a value in every conversation.
You can future proof yourself and the profession. There's no better time than...always.