May 11, 2017
Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Andy Hoar discusses the large-scale displacement of B2B sales reps by 2020, triggered by the powerful combination of empowered customers and digital technologies.
Andy Hoar, Vice President, Principal Analyst
The shift to a customer-led, digitally oriented market is causing far-reaching and sometimes painful changes to how businesses work, with few unaffected by this new reality.
The most vivid aspects of change are often attributed to consumers and are playing out in the B2C space. B2B companies may be slower to feel the change, but the consumerization of the B2B buyer and the desire to regain leverage with providers are forcing similarly profound changes in the B2B market.
Today, 68% of B2B buyers prefer doing business online versus with a salesperson, and when they engage with sales, they want that experience to be in a more problem-solving, consultative manner. This is not a shocking reality, but it is sending shock waves through B2B sales forces.
Forrester predicts that 1 million sales reps will be displaced by 2020.
This is not so much a story about loss but one of re-engineering — re-engineering the sales strategy, selling motion, and sales teams, then orchestrating it to avoid a hit to the top line. Digital experiences must perform in tune with consumer-oriented expectations of B2B buyers; leaders will need to optimize the size and nature of existing sales teams, and maybe the most daunting task of all will be the hiring of a consultative sales force in a labor market that is undersupplied and hotly contested.
In this episode, Andy Hoar reminds us that Death of a Salesman was not simply a fictional drama, but a real and immediate pressure on B2B companies to move faster and rethink how to market, sell, and service their customers — or create unnecessary and severe risk to their business.