Relevance of Salespeople in 2014 – A Response to Jean Spencer

We recently came across an article on Social Media Today by Jean Spencer that sparked some intense debate in the Roobix office. Spencer’s article argues that content marketing will replace physical sales teams in the future and points towards signs that this is already taking place. We are so passionate about the topic that we feel compelled to respond.

Conflicting sources

We took our time reading all the cited sources and ended up a little confused. Many of her sources actually contradict her argument of face to face contact becoming irrelevant. A Business to Consumer (B2C) example is used to support a Business to Business (B2B) argument. As discussed in a previous post, these industries are entirely different when it comes to marketing strategy due to the goals and motivations for purchases being vastly different. At Roobix we reached the conclusion that Integrated Marketing Communications needs to make a comeback. An online presence and content marketing should be teamed with a sales force to provide the interaction and accountability clients crave.

The 80/20 Rule

To return to a classic saying – 80% of business comes from 20% of the customers. This 20% is made up of clients where a personal relationship is developed and maintained. This spurs the repeat business and increases referrals to their own network. People will buy from people they like and trust. Content alone cannot make people like you or your business, nor build true loyalty. Despite analytics tools and big data, it is still impossible to tailor communications to people as well as you would do in a face to face conversation. The beauty of a salesperson going out to a client site for a chat is that the interaction is always tailored and personal. This improves the chances of them liking you and as a result, your business. People like people who are similar to themselves, or who represent who they want to be. Adjusting your personality to fit your client’s persona will deliver impressive results. Although content can be written to match a variety of client personas, it cannot think on its feet and adjust its message to build trust and get that sale across the line. It cannot look them in the eye and offer accountability.

Accountability through personal interaction

Accountability is particularly important to B2B customers. In a B2C transaction it is usually only the customer who is impacted if the product is faulty or experience is negative. When it comes to a corporate environment the entire company will be impacted by a bad decision. Aside from creating potential expenses to the company, it could also put their job on the line. This higher risk means a higher level of trust is required before a deal is signed. This level of trust is best achieved by meeting face to face.

Good salespeople are worth their weight in gold

While it is true that there is a stigma around modern salespeople, this is mostly true for B2C interactions. In B2B relationships the client is looking guidance and advice. A good salesperson that believes in the product or service they’re selling is able to genuinely assist their customer to find the right solution. This is how trust and a relationship starts, not through a website or even content marketing. Whereas a website is good for generating interest, it will never be better than a good salesperson at converting leads into customers.