Sales has changed.
That’s no secret; the advent of technology and the evolution of the educated customer has forced sales organizations, sales managers and sales reps to change the way they used to do their jobs. According to The Corporate Executive Board (CEB), 57% of the purchase decision is completed before there is any interaction between the customer and the seller. In that kind of environment, there is no room for the door-to-door, field sales rep.
But that does not mean sales reps have become obsolete. Far from it, in fact. InsideSales.com reports that since 2009, inside sales jobs – sales done remotely or virtually – have grown at a 7.5% rate annually, compared to just .5% for outside sales. By 2020, there will be 2.6 million inside sales reps in the United States.
If customers are becoming smarter and more independent in their buying decisions, how does that explain the recent growth – and projected growth to come – of the inside sales profession?
The Evolved Sales Rep
To successfully work with the more informed modern buyer and help get them across the finish line to a sale, sales reps have had to change their game and evolve their role. The old persona of the pushy, aggressive sales rep who spouted on about product features and never took no for an answer would have no chance of success in today’s sales environment. Instead, today’s sales reps must be:
empathetic, to understand the prospect and their pain points
trustworthy, to establish a real connection
analytical, to be comfortable talking in numbers and referring to sales metrics
consultative, to help talk the prospect through a specific problem
strategic, to be able to evaluate a situation and diagnose a plan for it
a critical thinker, to adapt to the uniqueness of each individual prospect
Sales reps today aren’t obsolete; rather, they have become the new added value for customers who already have most of the information they need and just need to take that final step toward completing the sale. What does this mean for the sales rep tasked with guiding that customer toward the finish line?
That there is an even greater impetus on the sales rep to deliver this added value, in the form of specific solutions to the prospect’s pain points. It’s no longer enough to tout product features – sales reps have to directly tie any product features and relate it in a way that the prospect will see personal and tangible benefit. That is where the value-add comes in.
This means sales reps can’t just pick up the phone and dial willy-nilly. They have to be strategic in their approach, diligent in their research, be comfortable talking about ROI and real numbers in an analytical manner and, above all, be helpful and consultative.
So to all those decrying the end of the sales rep as we know it….you’re absolutely right! This is the end of the old, archaic and aggressive sales rep. Today’s breed of sales rep is a much more evolved, nuanced and analytical selling machine. This is the state of Sales 2.0 today.