23May

The Invisible Salesman

There was a time when salesmen brought briefcases to our doorsteps and took us through an interesting product journey. Sales pitch, smart communication, stories and personal experiences were the main selling points of the product. Today, in both the B2C and B2B scenarios, the salesman has become invisible. The advent of technology has taken over 40% of a salesperson’s work.

Salesmen today hide behind emails, chat-bots, and other automation resources. Though businesses use several automation tools and techniques to acquire leads, having a human presence makes your customers realize the value of your product/service. You may realize that the salesperson today comes and goes like the gush of wind; we cannot see them but can certainly feel their presence.

Presently the job of a salesman has become difficult because:

  • Immense importance and priority given to customer experience.
  • Increased demand for highly skilled customer care officers and relationship managers
  • Need for exceptional soft skills to nurture Business to customer relationships.

Technological Ease

Technology has overruled geographical barriers that has limited a business in the past. Now that digital marketing has taken over industries with a storm, acquiring leads has become very easy. All you need is an official website and online marketing skills to attract buyers. Still, it is hard to say if technology has increased the productivity of a salesperson or not. When working for a structured company, tracking and monitoring becomes arbitrary for businesses willing to enhance their productivity.

Automation processes save us time and efforts in acquiring business leads & nurturing them. Marketing automation tools such as customer.io, HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, Constant Contact etc., have made it easier for marketers to explore and invent new strategies needed to capture leads prepare volumes. While the salesperson provided us with after-sales support and participated in re-marketing activities, current lead marketing tools like E-book giveaways, chat-bots, regular e-mail marketing, explainer videos, advertisements etc perform the same function and much more. Therefore, the salesperson today faces increased competition and low productivity.

Here are a few reasons why they feel the punch:

  • When technology has become easily accessible, why shouldn’t competitors opt for it? After all, going global is a major objective for brands to adopt a technology.
  • Another hitch is the availability of various options on the internet. A marketer spends his or her time analysing the efficiency of automation tools.
  • Lack of personal touch is another factor which hampers the productivity of a salesperson since marketing automation has certain limitations. You cannot automate or predict responses for ever unique customer.

The Frustrating Thing about Technology

The Invisible Salesman

Technology is a boon to most industries, but over the grass root level, one may not realize how big of a frustration it could be for high yielding salespeople. A recent study conducted in collaboration with more than 720 reps revealed some shocking facts that covers all aspects of technology and its’ contradictory sync with time management.

Here are the revelations:

  • On average, a salesperson spends two-thirds (64.8%) of his time on non-revenue-generating activities, this leaves only 35.2% of their time to sell the product.
  • However, the field representatives are practically ahead, spending 3.1% more time selling.
  • Strangely, only 22% Salesmen are able to adopt the Time Management Methodology.
  • This is because 14.8% of the drained efficiency caused by administrative tasks, along with activities like social media handling and hanging out with colleagues. Hence, 20.4% of their activities rank a negative efficiency score.
  • Sales technology (62.8%) like sending promotional emails (33.2%) account for most of a salesperson’s time.
  • While the tools to gather sales intelligence consume the least time (0.4%)
  • Interestingly, Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRMs) have declined because 9.1% of the Sales Representative’s time is spent in managing and maintaining spreadsheets for effectively balancing CRM tasks efficiently. Therefore, most sales representatives have considered CRM as their biggest frustration.

Is AI at Salespeople’s Rescue?

Currently, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the latest buzz in the world of sales and marketing. There seems to be an “AI” software or service at every step of your objectives. But when running a sales team, you need to deliver results throughout every quarter as a sales leader. Though buzzing technologies may sound attractive and catchy, it is still unsafe to adopt it without knowing outcomes. Sales leaders usually pay attention to AI if it can help boost their sales volume.

Most tech moguls claim AI highly productive and advantageous for their services offerings. However, from marketing automation to CRM and sales tools, the claims appear to be thin. To avoid falling into the AI pit, it’s necessary to determine if it’s worthy to spend time on it and derive optimum results. Experimenting with technologies could be good but knowing the exact benefits and results by adopting AI should matter to you more than anything else.

What is Effective- Automation or Human Interactions?

While automation makes a task easy to perform, a salesperson is important because of the following factors:

  • The degree of personalization in communication – The key to effective communication in sales and marketing is personalization. Automation limits the depth of communication and makes it too difficult to determine the customer’s needs. Whereas a salesperson establishes a relationship with the customer, encourages him to opt for other services, and can gather feedback or offer simultaneous support.
  • Drafting a flexible sales pitch– Businesses that follow a template approach in communication are less productive than those who have salespeople telling buyers what’s in it for them. Salespeople add value by determining the consumer’s behavior and attitude towards their product/service so that they can filter customers within their sales funnel.
  • Permission marketing approach – Permission marketing is a type of marketing where the consumer agrees to receive sales or product related information in the future. With the recent digital advancements, we often forget what it means to take permission before we promote a product. It is not enough to find an email id and send a promotional mail. You must take your consumers permission before sending them anything. By having a salesperson, proper communication gives scope to permission marketing.
  • Aesthetical Value to user interface & user experience – The automation process is mechanical and therefore does not cater to a rich business-to-customer relationship. A salesperson, on the other hand, can add value and unlock several opportunities with a customer. Imagine your customer is willing to talk to you about how he can use your services for his other businesses, or what potential growth opportunities he can avail through your services. In this case, a salesperson needs to be equipped to establish a vision for your customer’s growth. Since you’re concerned about user experience, you as the salesperson would make sure you take part in your customer’s ideas.
  • Delivering the right dosage of communication – With automation, you may have established some pre-defined communication model, but what if a customer is agitated or dissatisfied with a situation? What if he is curious about another service? Is there another to help him/her to choose the appropriate package for his needs? Automation can be a boon to a company but one should also be prepared for unscripted conversations with their customers. A salesperson is ideal to handle an unsatisfied person and guide customers to the best suitable package.
  • Use of Appropriate call to actions- Call to action tabs play a significant role in encouraging people to take an action after consuming the content. The million dollar button- “Buy now”, creates a massive opportunity to make a sale. In case of online sales for an e-commerce product, automation works like wizardry. Still, when offering a product for sale, a human interference is important to answer to unscripted inquiries.
  • Remarketing- We may not hesitate to admit that automation is highly effective for remarketing. In case of e-commerce transactions, the role of email marketing, and use of buttons to follow up on abandoned carts are some of the popular automation techniques that work well. However, human relationships between a salesperson and a customer is likely to get a number of referrals as well.
  • Social proof – To establish a social authority, having a salesperson in communication makes lot more sense than having a chat-bot communicating with your customer. It helps you act in the moment and respond to different behaviors. This will give room for negotiation and will let you stay in control.

It can be derived that only generating leads isn’t going to help your business grow. You need human interaction to convince customers to make a purchase decision. After all, the key to a happy and satisfying customer experience is human interaction.