There have been a lot of surveys and studies in the marketplace that talk about the role of a B2B salesperson being dead, or that marketing is the new sales for B2B businesses. I think the first point would be that we don’t believe that to be true and we don’t see that in the work that we do for our clients — and we work with a number of B2B organizations. I think what’s really driving this idea is that the buying process is changing. What consumers and business people are learning from their personal lives — in the way in which they buy in a B2C sense — they carry that into the B2B interaction. So they want to be able to get information in a digital fashion and a bit more directly. Therefore it seems that the role of a professional salesperson in the room with you seems to diminish to a degree, but we only see that for a portion of the B2B space.
Where we do see error in circumstances is where I’m selling a commodity or a standard product and I can do it online, directly, in a commerce model. It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that a salesperson isn’t involved in that circumstance, so that’s a portion of B2B, but for the lion’s share is the work where a professional salesperson is involved. Their role is as important as ever, and it requires that mix between digital content and the conversations they have in a room with a client.
Navigating the increased complexity
What gets in the way for these B2B organizations that have those complex circumstances? They still adhere to traditional selling models. So the focus on how they want to sell as opposed to how the buyer wants to buy. The short answer is that you can no longer follow a process that you want to follow. It’s all about the ways in which the buyer wants the process to go. Hearing that sounds really simple, but the point is that it’s pretty hard to put into practice. Until you start to map out what that buying process looks like and think about the ways in which marketing and sales professionals work together to be able to meet the buyer the way they want to me met and dealt with, that’s where the real complexity comes to play. That’s what we do at Baker Tilly. We work with our clients to help them along with that process of creating the strategy and supporting solutions so that you can adhere to the process the buyer wants, so you “do what you say,” if you will.