Are Sales People Disappearing in the Digital Age?

October 27, 2017

Posted by ljmcnitt. Published in Chapter News

By Diana Aqra

The age of unlimited information is bringing tremendous change to the work of marketers and sales professionals. Although these roles were traditionally separate and important, the speed of information in the digital age is forcing marketers and sales professionals to re-think their roles to meet and satisfy customers exactly where they are.

Marketers were traditionally responsible for attracting customers through advertising, online campaigns, print and other forms of media, while sales people were responsible for converting prospective customers into actual sales and completing the customer satisfaction process. However, because consumers are increasingly searching to find their own information and skipping talking to sales people, successful companies are reshaping the marketing and sales equation.

“The reality is that sales and marketing are continuously being integrated,” in the digital age, said Jill Rowley, an industry expert who worked for more than 20 years in Silicon Valley and has now transformed into a digital and “social” sales expert.

Rowley spoke at a Colorado Business Marketing Association event Oct. 17, in Broomfield, Colo., where she explained that although she was highly successful as a sales person for many years, it was her realization that she was a “sales person in a marketer’s body” that has led to her continued success in today’s market.

“Sales people are really great at closing deals, but they are really bad at opening,” she told a room of roughly 50 marketing and sales professionals. “It is increasingly becoming a marketer’s responsibility to increase revenue.”

The traditional routine of sales calls and emails are not working anymore, she said. “They aren’t dead,” but consumers are inundated with emails and phone calls that force them to shun, ignore and delete traditional sales channels.

Sales people are encouraged to do more of a marketer’s job these days, Rowley said, by telling stories, sharing experiences and getting connected on social networks. 

Although sales people may not be used to communicating informally, these “digital deposits” can come in the form of activities such as contributing to online discussions, sharing industry articles or sharing another company’s content and are replacing traditional sales calls and emails.

“It’s a give-to-give relationship,” she said, even though you may not convert a sale in that moment, your company’s net-worth is increasing as you expand your [social] network.

So, if sales people are taking on more marketing responsibilities, should marketing people take on more sales responsibilities? Or, will there just be more marketing and less “sales” in general?

“No one wants to be ‘sold,’” Rowley said during the presentation. That has always been true and will continue to be as the power of content, storytelling, and social connections become ever more important in the buyer’s psyche.

The reality is, Rowley said, that marketing and sales both need to carry marketing tactics all the way through the entire customer journey. Sales may not be going away, but they definitely need to add to their skillset. With this in mind, companies that employ this idea of “social selling” are likely to retain customers’ loyalty, gain more referrals and therefore increase their revenue and profit overall, making everyone happier.


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