The world of marketing and sales everywhere is evolving rapidly, with dramatic consequences for how people discover, evaluate and buy products and services. B2C businesses have been famously affected by customers’ desire to research, compare, evaluate and buy without ever speaking to a sales person. Now, the same change is happening in B2B businesses that have relied heavily in the past on the role of the sales representative.
The two articles in this POINT / COUNTERPOINT consider the role of the sales rep from very different perspectives.
Chuck Drucker and Lea Studer argue that the role of the sales person remains solidly focused on building and maintaining the customer relationships that are at the core of a sustainable and growing business.
"According to the CEB, customers view the products and services of competitors to be far more similar than they are different, so often the biggest differentiator is not the product or service, but the relationship and insights that sales representatives provide.
Not uncommonly, when buyers move to a new company, they call the sales representative who used to service them because the relationship is as valuable, if not more valuable, than the actual product or service." Read More
Andy Hoar, in a recent market research report released by Forrester, and in an accompanying blog, sees things differently. He argues that the extensive use of internet research by B2B customers is fundamentally changing the roles of – even the need for – sales representatives.
"For a minority of customers who are buying complex and expensive products and services, talking to a sales rep can be a value-added experience. But for the majority of B2B buyers who are self-educating online about products and services, or who already know what they want, the diversion is inconvenient and unwelcome." Read More