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Oleg Campbell
Oleg Campbell
CEO and founder
1 year ago

Could it be we don’t need salespeople anymore?

Could we be entering into a new phase where we don’t need sales people? If we look at Slack for instance, 500k new customers and no known salespeople.

I saw this question on Quora and couldn’t just pass by. The same question was asked when people saw massive growth of enterprise customer at Yammer. Now the myth stating that Yammer got this kind of success without turning to sales force. However, it is not true.

Yammer did try to go with viral bottom-up model. But when that didn’t work, they had to build a strong sales team and deal with it. The same thing happened with the majority of so-called we-never-actually-used-sales-reps businesses.

That very question was also asked every time some startups managed to grow without a sales team. Some of them are true, but most of them are more about exceptions, than rules. This is the one and only reason they attract so much attention as they are really special and their strategy is inapplicable to other companies. And given the fact you are not among 1% of those lucky bastards, you should memorize that creating a B2B startup without any sales people is too risky and will probably be the reason of your failure.

You may say, that a lot of things about outbound sales have dramatically changed for the last 10 years and you would be 100% right. But what were these changes about? Let’s see.

1. People don’t want to be sold, they are happy to buy – not as consumers or companies but as individuals that bring us to Human2Human sales paradigm.

2. There are plenty software developers (Salesforce, Dropbox, Google Apps, Xero, Hubspot, etc.) instead of a former choice among IBM, SAP, Microsoft. That means you pay small amounts to a lot of companies instead of paying huge bills to just a few of them.

3. Software is no longer sold as a “transaction” (sign-and-goodbye) but more as a a subscription (software-as-a-service) which brings us to necessity of always respond to customer demand. Otherwise, you will simply see churn.

Nevertheless, neither of the changes that happened over last years can signify we don’t need the sales teams anymore to develop the business properly. I’m telling that as a business owner, not as a sales representative so I have no strings attached. Without a wisely built outbound sales force you have nothing to do in a world of B2B startups.

Yet, there actually was a huge change about outbound sales itself. From now on, you can substitute “Sales” with “Marketing” and “Customer Success” with no hesitation. That is how the industry calls it now. The purpose of marketing is getting people to find you, getting to know you and want to buy. Customer success purpose is making them stay with you forever (or, at least, for several years) because value that you bring to them is priceless. No matter how you call them: sales reps, customer advocates, product evangelists they are still making sales for you and keeping your business prospering.

  • Todd Singleton

    I just tried to convey this same message to a forum of sales consultants by replying to an article titled “why more salespeople suck than ever before”. They just didn’t get it, I suppose in part because the argument negates their very necessity. The rebutals contained everything from “know it all customer” to “trying to buy cheap and expecting exceptional customer service”, a comment I cannot derive the origin of because I implied no such thing. It really became a slur of insults because the truth must have hit hard. I summed it up with a comparison of sales reps to the narrowing days of the individual investor and money managers. Their numbers are shrinking while Scottrade signs up new accounts daily.

    So goes sales… For the most part people know what they want to buy. They don’t need to be condoscendingly “educated” about company history and the added “value” brought to the table with the sales pitch (I’ve yet to find a sales person who could define exactly what “value” they bring to the customer). The only value they can provide is customer service, something they rarely want to engage in. Closing, closing, closing….. no. Stop it. Quit trying to “close” the a deal, quit working for wet ink. Focus in creating a long term relationship instead of the short term gains creating a commission check. Our company quit paying commission specifically to promote this mentality with great success. A salesperson motivated by next months commission is rarely, like never, focusing on the customers best interest. This narrative was not embraced in the sales force world. Shocker. They revealed their true motivation = the big dupe.

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