Why sales increasingly looks like consulting.


The internet has greatly impacted the role of salespeople. Vendors used to have information the general public could not access independently. If you wanted prices or product information you had to speak with someone in sales. 

The web has been a great equalizer and allowed anyone access to almost the same data. This has eliminated the information advantage merchants used to have, which is great news for everyone except amateurs and conmen. 

Having access to the same data as the seller improves a customers buying process and bargaining position. It also places new demands on sales professionals because simply being a source of information no longer justifies their existence.

This does not mean that salespeople will disappear any time soon. I have no doubt some customers avoid speaking with a sales rep and use the available information to do everything themselves. However, this requires a significant investment of a scarce and non replenishable resource: time.

If you have a legal problem, you can go and study law yourself. The same applies when you are ill because all the necessary information is public. However, in these situations most people opt to speak with a subject matter expert. Why would the evaluation of complex products be an exception?

It is not. Nowadays the added value of a salesperson is helping customers make sense of all information and determining how it applies to them. It is increasingly similar to the role of a consultant.

Good salespeople can be of great support in buying decisions, consider involving them.

About the author

Ivo Oltmans
By Ivo Oltmans


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