The pandemic threw the B2B sales profession into a different world. Online sales presentations burst into the mainstream, and telephone selling became more important than ever. And the surprising thing was: customers preferred it. One survey after another backed that up, with this one suggesting that 70–80% of B2B decision makers prefer remote human interaction or ‘digital self-service’ (i.e. buying from a website without a salesperson being involved).
So… customers prefer it, we know how to do it, and there are cost savings too. Everyone wins. The age of the 50,000-mile-a-year-plus sales rep is over, right?
Well, it appears not. In a lot of companies, the salespeople are back on the road. I’d be interested to see any research on this, but anecdotally I think that it’s being driven by a ‘we know best’ approach, seemingly in the face of the evidence. Someone I know told me that they felt it was better to get back in front of the customer, because when they did an online presentation, they were always worried that the opposition might be doing a face-to-face one, and would be at an advantage. They clearly didn’t think that the opposite might be the case; perhaps when they arrived for their face-to-face presentation, the opposition might already have put themselves in pole position with an online one?