According to Andy Hoar, of Forrester Research, over one million US B2B sales jobs will be eliminated by 2020 (Death of B2B Salesman, April 2015). Of the four documented seller types, two extremes stand out. Transactional Order Takers add no value to the buyer process and are predicted to lose up to one-third of all positions. One category of sellers that are expected to experience double-digit growth, the Consultants, are politically aligned and create compelling business value. These are the trusted advisors who provide meaningful insights and secure successful business outcomes that the client never thought was possible.
There are strong headwinds in B2B sales, which include more competitive pressure, customers switching more rapidly, customer access ease, and access to the right buyer profile at the right time which has never been so difficult, despite marketing budgets soaring. This reality is further heightened with time-compressed decision makers, and tremendous high volumes of ‘selling’ noise – the data explosion realities that persist everywhere.
With the accelerated explosion of digital data volume, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 42% through 2020 (IDC Research), sales professionals now live in a sea of data, thundering their waking hours, and turbulently impacting their ability to focus. Already at a focus disadvantage, over 30% of sales professionals suffer from attention deficit disorder. Furthermore, sales professional B2B productivity has been plummeting to all-time lows of less than 33% productivity time – focused on what’s important, the end customer.
Despite these market dynamics, and sales productivity increasing challenges, this is offset by the explosive access to the relevancy of important information to advance our sales intelligence. Mining the data waves do take skills and access to filtering software platforms, to help sales professionals modernize to function using guided AI solutions.
Our ability to take information and convert it into tangible, strategic value is a powerful competitive advantage. Value-added sellers are knowledge resources that use data intelligence to identify economic pain points and inform their buyers of new ideas to solve their pains. These sellers know that if they can’t help their clients to identify different buying criteria, they’ll naturally gravitate to price. They use every tool at their disposal to stay at the top of their game and continue to deliver top performance.
Imagine you’re a world-class, sports fisherman who’s celebrated for catching the biggest fish in every derby. You’ve built your reputation on your fishing acumen. You take it as a compliment that some people say you think like a fish. You analyze every detail of an ideal fishing scenario. You know where to fish, when to fish, how to fish, what bait has the best likelihood inducing a bite.
It’s not easy to stay on top and continue to catch the biggest fish every year. The competition is fierce and every year it seems like there are fewer fish in the water. How do you stay on top? You spend more time reading through the stats, sifting through the data, all in pursuit of that one key insight that will give you an edge. Your traditional way of thinking is to mentally strive with account management coverage to connecting the right dots and selecting the perfect strategy to catch that next big fish.
Now with Advanced AI and new approaches, all your data can be easily mined and you can be guided to the best location where the best fish are to catch, know your odds of catching that right fish, and be advised if you shift positions you can catch even a bigger fish.
Companies that use AI and advanced data sciences approaches to augment traditional sales approaches are 7-10x more productive and profitable (McKinsey). Companies like Ottawa based Versature, Waterloo’s Virtek, USA-based CrossFuze are rapidly innovating with AI Solutions from SalesChoice. At their fingertips, all sales cycles are intelligently ranked. They can understand what the win patterns are and whether they are in a control zone that is optimized. Guidance on pricing ranges or even solution offers are dynamically positioned to guide the sales professional and sales team closer to meet their performance targets.
The impact to a Sales Professional is that they now need to learn how to balance their relationship-selling know-how with their analytical know-how, as the efficiencies of AI cannot be challenged by human intellect, especially in large dataset patterns. What is important is to learn a new analytical language and understand what the basic terms mean and be able to make informed decisions on vendors selling their wares.
Terms like AI may be answered differently by different sales executives, but a simple definition to remember is AI is simply a computer mimicking a human. Other terms like machine learning, are more difficult to understand as there are different types of machine learning methods.
Stay tuned for our next blog and we will define the Basic Terms of AI and Data Science that every C- Suite Leader must understand to be prepared to lead in the new world, where AI will simply be everywhere – as AI is the New Oxygen!
Jean Nickerson, Founder, PurposeFul Selling and Dr. Cindy Gordon, CEO, SalesChoice