Are Sales Reps Becoming Obsolete?
Four Ways Sales Reps Can Demonstrate Their Relevance In the Digital Age
Once upon a time, decision-makers at businesses welcomed appointments with sales professionals. It was the primary way they could learn and ask questions about the features and benefits of products and services before deciding whether they were the right fit for their companies.
That environment no longer exists. Now, prospective customers are busier than ever, and they have the Internet at their disposal. Rather than disrupt their schedules by meeting with sales reps, they can do product research and request more information electronically whenever it best suits them. They don’t have to worry about feeling pressured into a sale, either.
That presents challenges for the sales department in your company. With digital communications continually evolving and making it more difficult to get face time with customers, how can your sales reps gain an opportunity to talk with prospects? How do they prevent being viewed as obsolete as more and more of the sales process gets handled by technology rather than people?
For sales professionals to thrive, they must find ways to set themselves apart from their competition. To do that, they must hone their mastery of online tools and apps. They must also realise that no matter how digitised the B2B landscape becomes, ultimately, people do business with people. The human factor hasn’t lost its importance, but it now requires sales pros to adopt new approaches for establishing and maintaining relationships.
1. Take time to understand their company’s CRM and lead development platforms.
They need to become intimately familiar with the systems’ capabilities and how to pull relevant data that will shed light on what prospects are interested in — and where they are on the buyer’s journey. They must also use that data promptly, addressing questions and sharing appropriate sales and marketing collateral, so they don’t miss out on prime opportunities to nurture relationships.
2. Demonstrate their expertise online.
To build trust and credibility with their target audiences, sales reps should consider regularly sharing informative content (white papers, articles, etc.) on social media. This will help demonstrate their understanding of their industry, prospects’ challenges, and how their solutions can solve pressing problems.
3. Choose the messaging in their sales emails carefully.
The average person deletes nearly half of the emails received each day. Because the odds of prospects opening and reading sales-focused emails are slim, sales professionals need to construct their email communications carefully.They must:
- Use wording that attracts interest and commands attention
- Avoid coming off as pushy and aggressive
- Personalise messages, so they don’t read like mass emails
- Convey what’s in it for the prospects (homing in on how they and their organisations will benefit)
Your organization must also make sure it has SEO-optimized landing pages on its website that your sales team can reference in their emails to drive prospects farther into the sales funnel.
All of this is easier said than done, so your company might benefit from the help of an Internet marketing company (such as Straight North) to create your sales landing pages and execute your email sales campaigns.
4. Harness the best of both worlds.
Just because digital platforms have taken over much of the sales process doesn’t mean face-to-face connections no longer have value. Networking events, conferences and other in-person events where your target prospects are in attendance can lead to building new relationships and strengthening existing ones. Whether sales reps meet new prospects at events and later connect on LinkedIn to explore possibilities, or they have their first opportunity to shake the hands of prospects they previously “met” only via social media, their in-person and online efforts will support each other. They need to excel at both.
Sales Reps Never Go Out of Style
Despite the many ways digital platforms and the Internet have overhauled the sales process, organizations will always need sales professionals to maintain personal connections with prospects and customers. Times have changed, though, so sales reps need to embrace technology and learn to use it to their advantage.
Dawn Mentzer Author Bio – Straight North
Dawn Mentzer is a contributing writer for Straight North, one of the leading Internet marketing agencies in Chicago that provides SEO, PPC and web design services. As a solopreneur and freelance writer, she specialices in marketing content — and collaborates with clients nationally and globally.