The Rep Strikes Back – The 2015 SiriusDecisions Summit

siriusdecisions summit 2015 sales rep header

The sales rep has taken it on the chin as of late. Conventional wisdom suggests that the role of the rep isn’t quite as important as it used to be.

In this digital age of social media, catchy sound bites like these get amplified. But at the 2015 Summit on Thursday, SiriusDecisions said, “not so fast.” Of course, digital buying behaviors are changing the buyer journey, but maybe not in the way you’ve thought.

According to research released at the Summit, B2B buyers interact with reps at every stage of the buyer’s journey. In fact, more than half the time, rep involvement starts at the beginning of the buyer’s journey. And in complex buying scenarios, sales rep involvement starts at the beginning of the journey two-thirds of the time.

Buyers all ask the same fundamental questions as they decide whether to make a purchase…

…but what happens from there isn’t as straightforward. There are three distinct scenarios organizations find themselves in relation to the buyer journey.

There’s nothing that revolutionary in suggesting that as price goes up, the sales process typically moves from transactional to complex – the latter typically characterized as longer sales cycles, with more key decision makers. But what should make you stop and think is the number and frequency of human and non-human interactions required to close a sale in the Independent, Consensus and Committee buyer journeys?

It turns out that the buyer journey is more episodic than linear, despite how much we’d like to bring order from chaos. The key takeaway from this finding is that a certain number of interactions need to happen in aggregate to close a deal, with a majority led by the sales rep (human) and supported by digital assets (non-human). If organizations actually track the number and type of interactions and match it up against these benchmarks, they may have a better sense of how far a buyer actually is on their journey.

And before we declare the rep dead, there’s one more piece of evidence that SiriusDecisions shared that should give us pause: of all the content assets absorbed by the buyer, it is the sales presentation that’s most important.

And who delivers the sales presentation? Last I checked, it was still the sales rep.

Perhaps in this new world of digital possibility, we’ve lost sight of what was most important, and what will always be most important. What’s more critical to influencing B2B buying behavior than ensuring your sales team has a compelling message and they are equipped to deliver it? It’s what I call the moment of truth. According to SiriusDecisions, “the number one reason reps fail to hit quota is their inability to articulate the value proposition.”

Buyers need trust, confidence, and validation to see their journey to a purchase – things non-human interactions will never be able to replace.

Turns out the sales rep is alive and well. #savetheb2bsalesrep