There aren’t marketing without sales. Selling requires persistence to perform a number of tedious, time-consuming, and repetitive tasks ranging from scheduling appointments, sending follow-up emails, to permanent adjustment of sales offers. Mass-digitalization, social media, smartphones in terms of hardware and various software tools and applications, including lotus notes, CRM and lately chatbots, have made the issue burning.
A number of tasks assisting the sales process can be automated. Automated emails, phone call logging, note taking, lead management, preparing adaptive offers and presentations all assist sales to be even more productive and to deliver greater yields. Technology has streamlined the sales process to the degree, where sales training, product and strategy updates, meetings with colleagues as well as appointments with clients have moved at least partly digital.
Rather than being skilled face-to-face communicators, heavy telephone users and mail generators, salespeople are destined to adopt new technological paradigm. Salespeople are forced to change the way they operate and be digital savvy. Traditional salesforce presentation skills (whether self-, product- or company-presentation) need to be coupled with ability to convey just as powerful lasting first impression online. Traditional listening skills are to be complemented with ability to read between lines and process large amounts of text. Building trust and “intimacy” with virtual customers is yet a different kettle of fish than engaging in chit-chat at social gatherings, boozy client lunches, or making statements at meeting rooms presentations.
Many organizations are adopting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) philosophy, especially for their sales representatives (which are company’s employees or commission-based free lancers). The utilization of personal mobile devices, which individual salespeople are already comfortable with, can further enhance their productivity and redirect efforts from peripheral tasks. Technology has enabled to track salespeople performance in real time, providing companies with instant access to salespeople’s digital devices, tracking salesperson’s physical location, mapping and visualizing company car trips as additional indicators to obvious performance measures such as sales volumes or conversion rates.
A common fear of current trends is that sales will be fully automated, and thus salespeople will be soon replaced. Actually, the opposite is true: customers are crying out for personal one-on-one communication as never before. Greater collaboration, customization and co-creation are paramount to the B2B sales as well as in consumer sectors. Pushy hard sell is on its way to the historical archives of sales techniques. Selling digital products requires constant support and involvement from a network of vendors and providers. Human salespeople are irreplaceable in conveying the benefits of more complex (smart, digital, autonomous or automated) products as some clients are lagging behind in digital technology adoption. Salespeople become the educators to their clients, discussants to their needs, strategic or operational.
Global digital revolution is set to displace some tasks and workers. Estimates believe that up to 20 % of salespeople’s tasks may be further automated, which would increase dramatically time available for actual selling (studies report about a third of working time salespeople spend on selling now). Door-to-door sales and multilevel selling schemes are moving online. B2B sales managers grow their teams by adding new specialized jobs such as software engineers, digital officers and sales data analysts. Individual sales reps use a variety of digital and social platforms to be where their clients are. Sales as a profession (whether retail or wholesale) may expect to grow their importance and remuneration in the next decade.
Prodejci: Automatizovaná a digitalizovaná tvář marketingu
Jedna z oblíbených marketingových akademických diskusí typu Kolumbovo vejce se vede o to, zda marketing (resp. marketingová komunikace) více potřebuje prodej, nebo zda prodej více potřebuje marketing. Obě tyto domény však procházejí současnou technologickou revolucí současně. Tak jako automatizace a digitalizace klade nové nároky na marketing a marketingovou komunikaci, mění se i požadavky kladené na pracovníky prodeje. Prodejci se musí naučit aktivně využívat nové technologie, automatizovat části prodejní cyklu, využívat nové komunikační kanály se zákazníky a aspirovat na to stát se technologickými nomády. Význam, společenská prestiž i finanční odměna profese prodejce však budou v digitalizovaném světě spíše vzrůstat.