The fact that the information and purchasing behaviour of customers in an increasingly digitized business world is changing essentially, has probably not escaped any sales department by now. In many places, however, there is less clarity regarding the question of how sales should best adapt to these changed and constantly changing conditions. We have formulated five theses that describe what the sales people of the future will look like.
Thesis 1: Sales loses information supremacy
Much of the information that the customer previously only learned in conversation with a sales representative is now available to him at all times. All the essential nominal data of a product are just a few clicks away. And they can often be evaluated more efficiently by the customer in this way than a conversation with the sales representative. Today’s sales people have to deal with much better informed customers – and with the resulting increased expectations of the conversation. Because the added value of the conversation for the customer can no longer be created by pure information. Instead, sales people of the future will have to offer much more strategically specific solutions. This requires in-depth knowledge of the customer.
Thesis 2: The sales people become customers’ experts
Today, sales people are often primarily experts for their product. But with the loss of information supremacy this is worth less and less. In order to meet the increasing demand of customers for noticeable added value, sales people of the future will have to become experts for their customers. In order to be able to offer truly innovative solutions, it is necessary to have a deep understanding of the processes and, in particular, of the customer’s challenges. The guiding principle: “Know your customer” will become dramatically more important.
Thesis 3: Sales people become supporters in the purchasing process
Given the much deeper insights that the sales people of the future will gain about their customers, they will increasingly become the customer’s representatives in the company. Instead of a salesperson who is fully focused on the conclusion and distribution of an existing product, the salesperson’s self-image is increasingly turning into a supporter of the customer in the purchasing process. And this is a tremendous opportunity! Because by bringing the real and relevant needs of the customers into the company, the products and solutions can be tailored more effectively to them. With sales – assuming a corresponding corporate culture – the entire company becomes a problem solver for the customer.
Thesis 4: Data will be the decisive resource in sales
Technology is still seen more as a competitor than an opportunity by some sales departments. One reason for this is often the fact that too many companies still relate the digital transformation too closely to marketing. And some formerly original sales tasks are now integrated into marketing as a result of technology. But also and especially sales people need to be trained in how to use these technologies. In order to be able to fulfil the new role of the sales people in this form, data becomes a decisive resource. Only with the help of comprehensive data can the deep insights into the needs and challenges of customers be gained, which will enable sales people of the future to become experts and find solutions.
Thesis 5: Sales people can spend more time on their customers
Finally, the good news: What sounds like a lot of additional work in sales up to now, is in reality simply a different job. Many simple administrative tasks are increasingly being taken over by technology – even in sales. As a result, employees are gaining more and more time to focus on their customers. Technological change is neither a blessing nor a curse for sales. It is an inexorable fact to which we have to adapt evolutionarily. However, this will not succeed with isolated individual activities, but only by completely rethinking the role of sales and by fundamentally adapting the DNA of the sales work in the company. Then the sales people of the future will become a key growth driver.
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