We talk today with Andy Hoar, the Vice President and Principal Analyst for Forrester Research for many years. Andy wrote a seminal work 18 months ago called The Death Of A (B2B) Salesman. In that piece, he stated that one million US B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service e-commerce websites by the year 2020. That is a big chunk, given that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy employed 4.5 million B2B salespeople in 2012.
Certainly, the times are a changin’ and B2B professionals must radically transform their historical sales models to accommodate a real-time and global buying environment that we all live in today. Companies need to recognize the amount of shopping and research that is happening online in the consumer space and start examining their B2B sales strategies.
It isn’t the end of all B2B salespeople, but the end of the typical salesperson and the way they interact with their buyers. Buyers want more self-service at all parts of the sales cycle and like the convenience of online purchasing as consumers, so they have the same expectations when it comes to B2B purchasing too.
“If I know what I want, I should be able to buy it immediately,” Hoar says. “When it comes to cross selling and qualifying buyers, all of this can be done better in a digital environment. There are a lot of impatientB2B buyers these days.”
B2B buyers will still tap salespeople when the sale is complex, when they want to negotiate price, or if an item is expensive or requires installation and servicing. Hoar spoke about how to become more effective at B2B online sales and how companies can start moving towards a more self-service model.