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Executive Summary

This article explores the role of technology in potentially replacing salespeople in the modern B2B landscape. As prospects increasingly carry out their own research and engage in self-service, the traditional role of the salesperson is being questioned. By leveraging Digital Selling and providing quality content, businesses may be able to reduce their reliance on sales teams while still maintaining effective sales processes.

There was more than a grain of truth in Alec Baldwin’s mantra of Always Be Closing taken for the 1992 film ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’. Selling in the 1980s and 1990s was all about closing the sale. There were many smooth-taking salespeople who could lead a prospect down the sales path and close them, without the prospect being aware they had even been sold to!  There was money to be made and not every closed sale was an ethical one, however, times have changed and buyers can self-educate and self-serve which changes the landscape for everyone.

Table of Contents

  1. The Changing Role of Salespeople
  2. Customer 'Self-Service' is King
  3. Why Your Company Can Operate with Fewer Salespeople
  4. Early Learning Syndrome
  5. How Marketing Technology Can Enhance the Sales Process
  6. Content Distribution Strategies
  7. Rethinking Company Structure
  8. Key Takeaways
  9. FAQs
  10. Conclusion

1. The Changing Role of Salespeople

In the past, salespeople played a crucial role in closing deals and generating revenue for businesses. With the rise of technology and the internet, the traditional role of salespeople is shifting. Buyers now have access to a wealth of information online, enabling them to make more informed decisions without the need for sales representatives.

2. Customer 'Self-Service' is King

With the increasing availability of information online, customers are more inclined to conduct their own research and engage in self-service. This shift in behavior benefits both the customer and the business, as self-serving customers are generally more satisfied with their buying experience.

Advantages of Customer Self-Service

  • Empowers customers to make informed decisions
  • Reduces pressure on sales teams
  • Increases customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Saves time and resources for businesses

In a previous article, “Four books, Seven years, One message for B2Bs” I reviewed four books that had a profound effect on me.  These authors (Jay Baer, Brian & Jeffrey Eisenberg, Steve Woods and Eric Ries) all believe that a self-serving customer is a happy customer. 

3. Why Your Company Can Operate with Fewer Salespeople

As customers become more self-sufficient, businesses can potentially operate with fewer salespeople. By leveraging marketing technology and providing valuable content, businesses can focus their efforts on building trust and nurturing relationships with prospects, rather than relying solely on traditional sales tactics.

Factors to Consider When Reducing Sales Staff

  • Evaluate your current sales process and its effectiveness
  • Assess the potential impact on customer experience
  • Determine how technology and content can fill the gaps left by salespeople
  • Ensure remaining sales staff are well-equipped to handle new responsibilities

4. Early Learning Syndrome

The shift in customer behavior is evident when comparing traditional sales approaches with modern, technology-driven methods.

Traditional Sales Approach

  • Salespeople educate customers on products and services
  • In-person meetings and demonstrations
  • Quotations and references provided by sales representatives

Modern Sales Approach

  • Customers conduct their own research online
  • Websites, blogs, videos, and podcasts provide product information
  • Newsletters and email campaigns keep prospects informed

5. How Marketing Technology Can Enhance the Sales Process

By leveraging marketing technology, businesses can enhance and even shorten the sales process. This allows sales teams to be more effective and profitable, ultimately benefiting the entire organisation.

Marketing Technology Tools to Utilise

6. Content Distribution Strategies

Consistent content distribution is essential to building trust with prospective buyers. By posting valuable content regularly, businesses can ensure their brand remains top-of-mind for prospects.  We hve developed our own strategy to help manage and sustain content distribution and a low cost in terms of Saas and human resources, it is called Social 444.

Content Distribution Channels

  • Social media platforms
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Guest posting on relevant blogs and websites
  • Podcast appearances and collaborations
  • Influencer partnerships

The list is extensive, but the objective should be to build trust with your prospective buyer so their decision to buy from you is the natural progression to all the valuable content you have provided. 

And when looking to distribute content you need to post regularly so that your prospective buyers become familiar with your brand, (see our blog on branding "Demonstrating Authentic B2B Branding and You") and to build the necessary trust ahead of any purchase.  

7. Rethinking Company Structure

As the role of salespeople evolves in the modern B2B landscape, businesses must adapt their company structures to meet the needs of self-serving customers. By fully utilising marketing technology and providing valuable content, businesses can reduce their reliance on traditional sales teams while still maintaining effective sales processes.

8. Key Takeaways

  • The traditional role of salespeople is being challenged by the rise of customer self-service and the increasing amount of information available online.
  • Businesses can potentially operate with fewer salespeople by leveraging marketing technology and providing valuable content to prospects.
  • By utilising and optimising marketing technology, businesses can enhance their sales process and potentially reduce their overall cost of sale.

9. FAQs

How has the role of salespeople changed with the advent of technology?

The role of salespeople has shifted due to the rise of customer self-service and the increasing availability of information online. Customers are now more inclined to conduct their own research, making the traditional salesperson's role less relevant.

What are the benefits of customer self-service?

Customer self-service empowers customers to make informed decisions, reduces pressure on sales teams, increases customer satisfaction and loyalty, and saves time and resources for businesses.

How can businesses adapt to the changing landscape and reduce their reliance on traditional sales teams? 

Businesses can adapt by leveraging marketing technology, providing valuable content, and focusing on building trust and nurturing relationships with prospects. This approach can help businesses maintain effective sales processes while reducing their dependence on traditional sales tactics.

What marketing technology tools can businesses use to enhance the sales process?

Businesses can use a variety of marketing technology tools, such as videos, online meetings, webinars, white papers, online chat facilities, helpdesks, FAQs, knowledge bases, blogs, articles, podcasts, infographics, and comparison charts.

How can consistent content distribution help businesses build trust with prospective buyers?

Consistent content distribution keeps businesses top-of-mind for prospects and demonstrates their commitment to providing valuable information. This helps build trust with prospective buyers, making them more likely to choose the business when they're ready to make a purchase.

How can businesses ensure their remaining sales staff are well-equipped to handle new responsibilities?

Businesses should provide training and support for their sales staff to help them adapt to the changing landscape. This may include training in using marketing technology tools, understanding the importance of content, and learning how to build trust with prospects through nurturing relationships.

What should businesses consider when rethinking their company structure to better align with the needs of self-serving customers?

Businesses should evaluate their current sales process and its effectiveness, assess the potential impact on customer experience, determine how technology and content can fill the gaps left by salespeople, and ensure remaining sales staff are well-equipped to handle new responsibilities.

10. Conclusion

The modern B2B landscape requires businesses to adapt to the changing demands of self-serving customers. By leveraging marketing technology and providing valuable content, businesses can potentially reduce their reliance on sales teams while still maintaining effective sales processes. It is crucial for businesses to re-think their company structure and fully utilise marketing technology to meet the needs of the modern buyer.

Go to our Digital Selling pages to see how you can change the way you work and scale up your business.

30 April 2024

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Author

The author and founder of salesXchange, Nigel Maine is a B2B marketing and sales expert with a proven track record in scaling up growth for Technology, SaaS, and Professional Services organisations. With 30 years hands-on experience and unique approach, Nigel has developed an effective strategy that dramatically increases exposure and profitability for B2B organizations.

Nigel has founded multiple start-ups, is a published author, public speaker and hosts both a podcast and business live streaming show, broadcast on LinkedIn Live, YouTube & Facebook. He also has extensive knowledge of MarTech software, creative hardware and software, and A.I. prompting tools.  Contact: 0800 970 9751 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.