The next five years are going to change the way salespeople do their jobs. Just as automation changed the way we manufacture goods, greater connectivity and advancements in artificial intelligence (A.I.) and technology are affecting the way we sell. If you’re in sales right now, your job five years from now may look a lot different than it does today.
Sales is changing, but that’s good news for salespeople. There will still be plenty for you to do, and it will be at a higher and more strategic level.
The modern buyer is socially connected and fully mobile, and they expect businesses to be so as well. Social media is only going to continue to grow as the preferred way to communicate online. Worldwide users are estimated to reach 2.95 billion in 2020 and will continue to grow through 2022. This spells advantages for sales teams that focus on social media as a tool for driving referrals and capturing sales.
After all, today’s digitally driven consumer expects lightning-fast service, and their expectations aren’t getting any lower.
There’s good news in here for future sales teams: Customer demands may mean added pressure for your team to be more responsive, but they also indicate your customers are looking for you on social media. Businesses can create huge advantages for themselves by building a strong social media presence and using it to funnel customers toward their sales pages.
As Drew Hendricks points out, social media is also your greatest listening tool. The more you know about your customer, the better you can tailor your offers. Having the most advanced tools to monitor social media effectively will help keep a finger on the pulse of your customer. Used wisely, this information will help leverage future sales teams and improve their chances of selling at crucial moments.
One thing is for sure about AI: Sales teams that use it are becoming incredibly efficient. The concern many salespeople have is whether all this technology will negatively affect their careers. But there’s reason to believe those who keep up with technology have a lot to gain.
The salespeople who master the technologies available will be able to automate tasks, freeing up more time for presenting to potential customers. They’ll know their customers better, be able to meet them where they are in the customer journey, and provide a richer customer experience.
Studies have found that higher price point sales, especially in the B2B sector, benefit from the human touch. Buyers choose to work with suppliers who understand their industry and can identify and solve all the problems the customer may encounter.
We’re also going to see more salespeople acting like consultants, ensuring customers get the most benefits from their products and services.
Because in a saturated market, who are you more likely to choose?
A) The supplier that sells you their product.
B) The supplier that sells you their product, tailors it to your needs, and helps you use it to grow your business.
It’s an easy question to answer, and suppliers are already changing their models in response.
It also won’t be enough for a salesperson to know everything about their own products. Salespeople are already expected to act as a resource for their customers—someone who understands their customers’ problems and can provide solutions, even if it means referring them to other vendors.
If you can become someone your customer relies on whenever they have a problem, you are indispensable.
Technology is changing too fast for suppliers to keep innovating solely on their own. In his TedX Talk, Dr. Régis Lemmens says businesses are moving away from traditional selling and toward collaborating, where customers and suppliers work together to co-create solutions.
What does that mean for salespeople?
Their jobs won’t disappear, but they will change. It will be up to salespeople to engage customers in working collaboratively on new products and solutions, sharing in the ideas as well as the risks. The salesperson’s job will be to facilitate brainstorming sessions where both parties walk away with a new solution they both helped create.
This new role will ask the salesperson to develop a large ecosystem of partners, since co-creating will require capabilities not every supplier has. In fact, the salesperson of the future might look more like a broker who uses digital tools to manage their ecosystem, and deploys those tools to help customers find solutions.
New technology and the ever-changing role of a salesperson are bound to change the scope of sales positions over the next five years. But like the old adage says, the more things change, the more they stay the same: Customers will continue to look for salespeople who show integrity, responsiveness, and a genuine concern for their needs. Sales professionals who adapt to change while maintaining those traits will find themselves in a much more dynamic career, with some impressive tools at their disposal.
Interested in reading more about AI and its affect on sales? Click below for our eBook, “AI for CRM: Everything You Need to Know.”