The Internet and rise of ecommerce has made transactional selling a thing of the past. The reality is, the internet is perfect for transactional selling as there is very little value that can be added by a professional salesperson. The professional salesperson offers the customer a very different experience and adds value to the transaction by highlighting the buyer’s frustrations or needs and offering solutions, guiding them through the sales process into implementation.
The video “The New Selling of America” does a really neat job in explaining the evolution of the perception of salespeople and their role in popular culture throughout the years. More recently, salespeople have been thought of as more of a nuisance than a convenience. Perhaps e-commerce’s rise in popularity has persuaded customers to believe that they are better served to do their own research, cutting out the value that the salesperson once provided.
The above is mostly true for products in the B2C space. In the B2B world, customers expect that their salesperson will be bringing immense value. The sales person and account representative could be responsible for things like scheduling business reviews, managing inventory, seeking feedback from end-users, negotiating prices on the customer’s behalf, and countless other business activities. These functions not only bring the customer value but also allow the salesperson to anticipate their customer’s needs more accurately, which of course is immensely beneficial for both sides.
Personally, I’ve had plenty of positive and negative experiences with salespeople in the B2B space. The good experiences are highlighted by the salesperson’s understanding of our business needs and where their solution fits in. They are well-prepared and are willing to help make their product succeed by managing end-users, promotional materials and activities, and offering customization. These sales people make the buyer believe that they are entering into more of a partnership than a business contract.
On the other side, the negative experiences can be described in one word; apathy. The salesperson is often uninformed about the prospective end-users, business operation and needs, and process to become a vendor. Negative experiences leave the buy feeling like his or her time has not been valued.
In short, to be success you must be willing to add value. You should always do your homework and be ready to speak about how you can help their business. See the buyer as a business partner and take the time to understand their paint points and eliminate those obstacles. The easier the solution is to integrate into a company’s ecosystem, the more willing they will be to take a chance with you product.