Technology provided consumers with access to more information than at any time in history. However, there is a gap between businesses and consumers, despite the increase in consumer demand for products and services.
Due to archaic systems and processes, there seems to be a change in consumer buying, augmented by increased digital adoption, demand for self-service checkout in physical and digital space, and an increased sensitivity towards customer experience.
The Evolution of B2B Sales in the Last Decade
The best way to look at the future of sales and sales roles is to see how it was decades before. Let us look at how the B2B sales function had changed over the last five to ten years.
- More educated buyers – The internet has democratized knowledge sharing. Today’s buyers are more educated and demanding, but such buyers have never been part of the dynamics. Due to the information parity, consumers have more leverage than before.
The buyer awareness and sophistication will change the most. Consumers are already running Google searches on you and your business. So, the roles of salespeople have become dramatically different due to their strategic importance.
- Growing remote relationship-building – Calls and in-person meetings would close deals. But we are eliminating face-to-face interactions without sacrificing relationship building. Salespeople are still developing meaningful relationships with video calls.
- Rise of inside sales – The rise of contact centers and communication technologies have introduced inbound marketing and the inside sales models, which is the biggest change to sales. In the last decade, salespeople started closing minor cases. Today, companies are relying on inside sales to close bigger deals than before.
- Increasing use of sales enablement – Sales enablement involves implementing a cross-departmental strategy for sales and marketing. It has entitled salespeople, enabled them with the best kind of content, and has increased their performance. It is more proactive, strategically focused, and hands-on than traditional marketing.
- Communication on preferred channels – As new technologies and communication platforms emerge, buyers conform to the seller’s preferred communication channel. Salespeople adapting and switching channels are winning deals than those following traditional channels.
Moreover, sales teams have evolved from autonomous agents with a personal list of prospects to teams co-equally using automation tools and using automation to prospect and stay in touch, and CRMs to manage activities and report.
How Could Sales Change in the Next Decade?
What will B2B sales look like in the next five years or the next couple of decades? Let us explain how.
Automation will increase efficiency – AI, ML, and automation will assist sales teams, automating simple and repetitive tasks. For example, your software will send you a message if you have a call with a client. Prediction and machine learning will make the process more efficient.
Automation could automate everything – Due to AI’s ability to manage and process a vast amount of data, the sales functions could be automated entirely based on AI. The processes will become much faster and do more efficient work than humans.
Greater need for sales training – Most salespeople will be efficient due to automation, and technology will replace those who non-perform, period. This will raise the demand for excellent sales training around conversational abilities and navigating complex sales effectively.
Products may auto-sell – As automation technologies evolve, companies will rely on salespeople less. When AI is applied to the qualifying and presentation phases, products may start selling themselves.
Specialization of the sales process – The sales process may have several parts. In the future, expecting one person to be good at research, prospecting, outreach, discovery, evaluation, demonstration, negotiations, closing, and managing accounts could be dangerous.
While lead generators and marketers gather leads, project managers will research and do pre-sales activities. Account executives will conduct discovery work, presentations, deal closures, and account managers will provide customer service and implement what’s been sold.
Tools and technology will leverage the sales function – While AI, chatbots, and other technologies will absorb low-level sales functions, higher-level sales roles will gain more real-time information with these tools. High performers will increasingly use AI.
Sales roles may combine – Sales may blend with marketing and customer service and become one revenue function responsible for driving revenue in an orchestrated and experiential manner. They will monitor inbound sales opportunities, responding via chat and chatbots, and participating in mid-bottom funnel conversations.
Changing Nature of Sales Roles
Declarations that technology will replace talent have worried salespeople in every industry. Despite the powerful advancements AI technology offers, human intervention is more critical than ever during a B2B buyer journey. Sales teams will consider robust sales tools as their coworkers.
As technology advances, tech requirements too will advance. Tech-savviness will be a default job requirement. Telecommuting and technology will make it easier to connect with team members, resulting in integrated but geographically distant sales departments.
Draup conducted a comprehensive analysis of the sales roles’ evolution and found a change in the sales workflow, evaporating the traditional sales job roles into new-age sales roles across industries.
We have looked at two sales roles – Inside Sales Manager and Sales Specialist.
Inside sales manager
As per research, 70% of customers do not want an in-person meeting. Contrarily, key decision-makers are more receptive to remote sales. 78% of decision-makers polled have answered an email or taken a cold call and set up an appointment, or attended an event.
The inside sales manager manages a sales team that sells high ticket items, especially in B2B. These sales professionals deal remotely, optimizing the current online technologies for remote demos, product presentations, and other sales functions.
Ironically, even outside sales spend more time inside to communicate with prospects, thanks mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic. Arguably, telemarketing jobs have become competitive, encouraging them to veer out of their scripts and have personalized conversations with their leads and customers, just like inside sales professionals.
There are sales acceleration and intelligence tools that the inside sales teams can use to dial more leads, send more emails, and have more conversations by forming a powerful sales technology stack.
Organizations prefer inside sales teams due to their cost-effectiveness, preferred by customers, enabling better collaboration, and offering productivity-boosting tools.
Sales specialists work for business growth with knowledge of company processes, products, and services which supervise and motivate sales teams and evaluate their performance. They are involved in market research, sales forecast, marketing strategies, and advertising meetings.
These specialists make sure they meet sales forecasts. They are experts in selling certain products and services. They make sure that companies remain profitable by continually prospecting and performing. They must also be aware of market changes and demographics.
Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 2% and produce 35,400 job opportunities in the U.S. alone. When we look at resumes, we found that sales specialists included communication and enclosed business relationship building. While hard skills like these are helpful to have, let us look decode further.
In-demand Sales Roles Hotspots & Reskilling
Draup performed a Location Intelligence analysis into in-demand sales roles, the career progression analysis of traditional sales roles, and analyzed 400+ locations across the globe. The document shows the location hotspot and the cost for inside sales manager and sales specialist roles.
While technology has impacted the natural career progression of traditional sales roles, employees and employers favor a career progression into alternative sales roles with Reskilling. For example, we have analyzed how a Sales Consultant can be reskilled to transition to the new sales specialist role.
Draup has analyzed more than 4,500 job roles across 2,500 locations. We have analyzed 50 million + digital & digitally influenced professionals to help HR leaders in their Talent Acquisition, Workforce Planning, and Reskilling Initiatives.
Download the whitepaper to learn about the digitalization of sales function, how new-age skills are restructuring sales teams, in-demand sales roles, including the location, and reskilling strategies.