Forget what you’ve heard about sales tech effectiveness. Here’s why the personal touch still wins.

There’s a myth being circulated in the world of high-tech sales. According to some “experts,” buyers know everything they need to know about our companies, products, and solutions before they ever speak to a salesperson—and most buyers prefer not to talk to a salesperson at all. According to Gartner, 83 percent of B2B buyers would rather buy digitally.

You could argue that the trend towards digital buying demonstrates sales tech effectiveness. The sales process accelerates with sales technology, and fewer high-priced salespeople are actually needed. That might be true for consumer-facing brands and even for B2B companies with simple products and solutions. But if you’re selling something complicated, expensive, or transformative, chances are that your buyers still want to talk to a person.

High-tech sales reps still have a role to play—an important one. In fact, buyers might just need us now more than ever.

woman with bionic arm
(Image attribution: cottonbro studio)

The Personal Touch Means More Than Ever

The truth is that much of the B2B buying journey happens online, especially the early stages. Before buyers make their initial contact with us, they have usually checked us out, compared pricing, read a whitepaper or two, listened to a webinar, and/or viewed a demo. They’ve also researched our competition.

This suggests that buyers don’t really need us anymore—that the proliferation of information and cutting edge sales technology have made salespeople irrelevant. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, there are certain things we’d rather get online and do for ourselves. But at the end of the day, we also want to do business with people. For example, when you fly, you no longer need a person to provide you with a schedule, sell you a ticket, or issue your boarding pass. But once you board that plane, I bet you want a flight attendant to greet you and serve refreshments. And you sure as heck want a human pilot in the cockpit.

The same goes in sales: Many clients would rather get information online. But when they have questions, they want quick, thoughtful responses from real, live, experienced salespeople. And before they’re going to sign on any dotted lines, they want to know they’re working with people they can trust. These types of connections are built with referral introductions and face-to-face communication, whether that’s via video or (better yet) a good-old, in-person conversation.

people high-fiving in business meeting
(Image attribution: fauxels)

The more technology-driven this world gets, the more we appreciate the personal touch—real recognition, in-person communication, and actually getting to work with people. As John Naisbitt writes in High Tech/High Touch: Technology and Our Search for Meaning, “The more high tech [the world becomes], the more high touch we desire.”

Computers Cannot Replace Me

There are many effective digital tools at sales teams’ disposal, but sales tech effectiveness doesn’t erase the need for experienced sellers, because we can do things that software can’t. World-class salespeople understand our clients’ most pressing business issues and their greatest challenges. We know about their industry developments and competitive landscape. We know what works and what doesn’t.

Our clients don’t just need information. They need help uncovering the best solutions to strengthen their businesses. And this is done by an experienced high tech sales rep who knows how to ask the right questions, not by a “Click Here” button.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Buyers want to do business with salespeople they know, like, and trust. They also want compelling digital content, self-service checkout, and other digital buying experiences. The challenge, then, is to balance the high­-tech innovation that drives today’s business world with personal, high-­touch relationships. It’s not technology versus humanity, and it’s not either/or. Consumers today want both. We’re not changing the need for humanity, just some of the requirements.

For the record: I am not tech-phobic, a Luddite, or afraid of change. As our world and culture change, so will sales—and that’s OK. What doesn’t change is that our community is composed of people. And people need interaction. So step up and make a difference in your clients’ lives and businesses. Help them succeed by being a top-notch, high-tech sales professional. Be a resource, a cheerleader, and a sounding board. Be part of the solution.

You don’t have to choose between being high-tech and high-touch. You can (and probably should) do both.

For more on how to leverage technology AND relationships for sales success, get your copy of Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal—now available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. Or get the digital version for your Kindle or Nook.

(Featured image attribution: ThisIsEngineering)