Over the last month I read four articles that kept coming back to the same theme: The impact technology is having on traditional sales organizations.
- Procter & Gamble recently announced that by the end of 2014 they want to buy 75% of their U.S. digital media programmatically—and just to make sure we’re on the same page here, programmatically means untouched by human hands.
- Publisher Conde Nast announced it was merging programmatic and direct sales together.
- Andrea Mitchell, in a piece on bizcommunity.com, said “It is predicted that programmatic media buying will soon replace all traditional ways of media planning and buying—not just for digital, but for all media channels.”
- While showrooming has had a tremendous impact on retailers, human interaction still matters. It is still a vital driver that explains why, in certain cases, consumers still prefer to purchase products in-store versus online. For example, a 2012 Nielsen poll indicated that 69% of its respondents thought in-store purchases were "most reliable," and 68% said it was the "easiest" and the "most convenient" way to shop.
No matter what type of b2b sales you are in, technology will impact your sales organization. How it impacts you, individually, will be determined by what kind of salesperson you are. How can your human interaction make an impact?
Here are some gut-check questions to consider:
- Are you focused on consistently on bringing ideas to your clients that will impact their business or are you simply implementing someone else’s idea?
- Are you consistently thinking about the results your client will see or are you just negotiating, hoping you will be on the buy?
- Are you trusted and valued by your clients, always providing them empathy, expertise, and problem-solving capabilities, or can the role you provide be replaced by the click of a button?
- Are you pitching or creating?
- Are you creating new and specific value for your clients or just facilitating what they are asking for?
The b2b salespeople who are simply negotiating, implementing, and facilitating actions that someone else has decided will have a higher probability of being replaced by technology. But the b2b salespeople who provide ideas, create specific value for their clients, understand what success looks like for their clients, and help them solve problems have a very different future: They will survive and thrive.
What kind of salesperson are you?