By Gerhard Gschwandtner
The advancement of technology is forcing the redefinition of the sales professional’s role in B2B selling. Recently I’ve read a variety of reports and articles detailing how technology – from artificial intelligence (AI) to automation – is threatening to take over the traditional job functions of humans.
In fact, I began writing about this issue as early as 2010 (“Are You at Risk of Being Replaced by Technology?”). At the time, I cited the following shifts:
Innovative technology can also displace jobs. Over the years, ATM machines have replaced bank tellers and telephone operators have been replaced by automated answering technology. Travel agents were replaced by travel Websites. Video store clerks were replaced by Netflix.
As my team and I prepare for the upcoming Sales 3.0 Conference in Las Vegas later this month, we’re asking speakers to explain how sales leaders can create an amazing sales force in this rapidly-changing environment. In particular, I’m looking forward to hearing a presentation from LaVon Koerner, chief revenue officer and co-founder of global consulting and sales revenue acceleration firm Revenue Storm. The Sales 3.0 Conference team recently published a new report, “Four Leadership Insights You Need to Create an Amazing Sales Force,” in which LaVon offers some interesting insights. As he says, sales leaders need to stop depending on salespeople to just sell better and, instead, lead them to sell differently.
Here are two critical highlights from the report:
Tip #1: Shift your strategic sales approach to “demand creation.”
The most successful sales professionals understand that individual human beings – not companies – make decisions to buy. Relationship development is an intentional process that requires salespeople to invest time doing careful research before walking through the door to determine the potential value they can offer. Additionally, it requires continued nurturing. Salespeople need to continually ask: “What have I done for my customers lately?”
The Internet provides product and pricing access and ease. What it doesn’t provide is innovative judgment and the ability to alert a customer to unknown areas of gain. The sales professional of the future will need to excel in this area – working with the prospect, sifting through and distilling data to help achieve a solution for advancing his or her company in new and creative ways. This is the heart of demand creation.
Tip #2: Encourage reps to leave their customer-relationship comfort zones.
A new type of sales professional is needed to navigate customer relationships in a digital age. The fact is, many simplistic sales jobs will disappear in the next decade. And, although rarely discussed, most of today’s sales professionals have a tendency to hide behind the caliber of their product offerings, their pricing, or their company. Instead of “safe” discussions around products, features, price, and company, your salespeople have to be savvy and brave enough to earn the right to have discussions around personal agendas.
To learn more, you can download the full report and register to join us in Las Vegas on September 18-19 at the next Sales 3.0 Conference, where LaVon Koerner will present, “Not Another Class: Make Your Sales Force Amazing.”