Technology Will Help but Never Replace a Real Salesperson

At a staffing industry conference I recently attended, I heard a presentation about how technology will replace humans in certain sectors. As the speaker offered examples of jobs that no longer require staffing by a human being, I started to wonder if the role of a business-to-business salesperson would ever become similarly obsolete.

After the presentation, I asked the speaker for his thoughts on this question. He explained that even though certain jobs will eventually see their staffing needs filled by robots or other technology-based solutions, roles and occupations will evolve to support those jobs—and humans will be needed for those new positions. In particular, he predicted that the connection between marketing departments and sales departments would continue to grow and rely on human involvement in the production of robust content strategies that organizations deploy in their efforts to attract potential buyers who have already amassed a great deal of information about them.

When I returned home from the conference, I did some research of my own to find out just how critical the human influence is on those tasks—and I hit the jackpot. For example, I found one Gartner study stating that “customers are . . . 57 percent through the purchase process before they have the first meaningful contact with a seller.” During that “pre-contact” time, a potential buyer is absorbing information about a company—and forming opinions (including biases) about it as well. This underscores the importance for marketing to pave the way at every step of the journey for consumers to learn about and engage with a company’s brand.

Similarly, research by Megan Heuer, the vice president of research at SiriusDecisions, has shown that although technology has become a vital tool for gathering information, with “67 percent of the buyer’s journey . . . now done digitally,” interaction with salespeople still occurs throughout the buying process. That’s why “every marketing organization must view its inbound efforts as absolutely critical to success at all stages of the buyer’s journey,” and why salespeople need to build and nurture the company’s relationships with potential buyers right from the start.

What does this all mean? In short, it means that even though technological changes are coming down the pike, all the robots in the world will never be able to hold a candle to humans when it comes to building trust-based interpersonal relationships.
In order to make sure that your organization stays in front of all of your buyers, stick to the rule of three: for every four touches your company makes to your buyers, be sure that three are educational and focused on them. By providing ideas and content that are focused on the buyer, the salesperson creates a level of trust and credibility in that relationship. Robert Rose, the chief strategy advisor at the Competitive Marketing Institute, writes that a buyer’s trust in a company grows when the company’s content exhibits these four characteristics:

  • Risk appropriate. (“As marketers we should gauge what we ask in relation to the perceived risk the audience could have.”)

  • Recurring. (“It’s not only about developing extraordinary things that are valuable, but about the little things that frequently deliver reliably over time.”)

  • Personal. (“The best way to get data that can be trusted by your brand is to deliver that personal experience that encourages the audience to willingly and trustingly give its information to the marketer.”)

  • Cumulative. (“To elicit a deeper trust, each experience must be able to adapt in the present to what happened before and what will happen after the interaction.”)

Trust can be cultivated by frequently sharing with buyers information that is relevant to their particular needs and interests. Industry experts and thought leaders excel at this task, and you can put their talent to work for your organization by using their content in your outreach efforts.

Packaging such content for your clients, however, takes some work. If you want the people you are selling to view you as a thought leader but do not have the time to invest in curating the appropriate content for your target audience, contact us today. That type of work is our area of expertise, and we welcome the opportunity to assist you!

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