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Forrester still expects huge B2B sales losses

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In a 2015 report titled “Death Of A (B2B) Salesman”, Forrester predicted that 1-million business to business (B2B) sales reps would lose their jobs between 2012 and 2020 – and it looks like this will come true.
Two years later, Andy Hoar, the lead analyst of the research, has published a follow-up report, which validates Forrester’s initial predictions and analyses how the B2B sales industry has evolved over time.
Business leaders are continuing to automate sales processes and promote digitally enabled commerce.
Among the key drivers is the fact that B2B buyers want to do their own product research. In 2015, 53% of the B2B buyers Forrester surveyed preferred to gather information on their own versus interacting with a sales rep. Today, that figure has grown to 68%.
Meanwhile, inside sales is becoming more important for ensuring B2B success. Forrester’s survey found that upskilled inside sales will play an even greater role in all phases of SMB and enterprise sales than initially predicted in 2015.
Shifting from offline to online sales is both cost- and customer-effective. Coca-Cola reported that it reduced its average cost-per-interaction by 85% by moving offline B2B customers online. Also, US Foods said that customers who buy online spend 5% more than those who only buy offline, and Levi Strauss reported that shifting its B2B customers to a self-serve portal increased its revenue by 10%.

  • Steve Peck

    Forrester’s analysis and this article is wrong. The trend may be relevant for simple, transactional / order taking B2B sales, however is way off the mark for any sales process that involves any level of complexity. In fact working to move the sales process to a linear, digital nurture track can often over complicate things and extend the sales process as this fantastic article from HBR will show:

    With all the content out there developed to help ‘guide’ B2B decision makers to close, I predict that there will be a reversing of the ‘self service’ sales process, whereby buyers will be inundated with too much content and turn back to educated sales professionals to help cut through that noise. With this change, organizations who build more strategic thinking, consultative sales teams will experience much more success.