Nearly two years ago, Forrester published a report that sent shockwaves through the B2B industry, forecasting that nearly 1 million B2B salespeople will lose their job to self-service eCommerce by 2020.
Just this week on a webinar by Internet Retailer, I learned that Forrester is going to release an update to its 2015 report, “Death of a (B2B) Salesman.” Here were the key takeaways from the webinar:
- The future of B2B Commerce will span the full spectrum of selling, serving buyers who are self-educating themselves and want a frictionless purchase process to those who require more assistance when making complex and expensive purchase decisions.
- 74% of buyers said purchasing from a website is more convenient than buying from a sales rep – this stat hasn’t wavered much in two years. When businesses remove friction in the buying process, they increase sales velocity.
- In 2015, 93% of B2B buyers stated they prefer to buy online when they’ve decided what to buy. While this sentiment also hasn’t changed much in two years, it boils down to this – the B2B salespeople who are merely “order takers” will be the jobs replaced by portals that streamline simple transactions and re-orders of products.
- B2B sellers who assist more as a “consultant” when the complexity of the product/service is high and many decision makers are involved will be the types of salespeople still in demand in B2B.
- The disruptive technologies in B2C, such as artificial intelligence (think Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home,) will impact B2B companies. Forrester estimates we’ll see more use of AI in B2B selling for simple transactions in the years to come.
While none of us has a crystal ball, it will be interesting to see how things change for B2B commerce in the next three years. Who would’ve dreamed 10-15 years ago that consumers would prefer buying staple items from Amazon.com (and other big box retailers) for the convenience factor of not having to go to a store?
The times they are a-changing and quickly too! I’m looking forward to reading the updated report from Forrester when it’s released. How about you?
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