Is Omnichannel Sales Killing the Need for Sales Reps?

pegaEnterprises have been eagerly deploying new digital sales technology for more than a decade. Customers can now purchase on websites, mobile devices, social media, and even chatbots, without encountering a live person at any point during the sales process. This model represents a 180-degree transformation from the traditional model of in-person and relationship-based selling. So where does this leave salespeople, who are increasingly being removed from the customer journey?

In the rush to embrace digital transformation, businesses often overlook the critical role that salespeople play in helping customers when it’s time to decide on a product or service in their channel of choice. The in-person experience of visiting a store to peruse and purchase an item with the help of a salesperson can still serve as the tipping point that many customers need to feel confident in their investment.

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So, what can organizations do to better integrate salespeople into their omnichannel strategies and leverage their talents in different and better ways? They can start by considering the following:

Understand Web-Rooming vs. Showrooming Preferences

Showrooming — where shoppers conduct research in the store before buying online — attracts a lot of buzz as a prevalent shopping behavior. Yet omnichannel shoppers more often do the exact opposite by researching online before purchasing in the store.

A Harris poll finds that 69 percent of people engage in this “web-rooming” behavior, while only 46 percent showroom. This bucks conventional wisdom that showrooming delivers the majority of sales. When potential customers come into the store, onsite salespeople can take certain steps to optimize their experience. This could include personally guiding them through a seamless in-store experience, or when customers need help, accessing their brand history to understand them better to deliver more personalized assistance.

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Leverage AI and Analytics to Drive Optimal Sales Recommendations

To deliver that seamless in-store experience, sales representatives need the right guidance at their fingertips. Organizations can empower their reps with AI-powered mobile applications to hyper-personalize the face-to-face experience for each customer. Each customer brings a different context to the buying table — whether it’s their purchasing power, browsing/purchasing history, service history, or otherwise.

Mobile applications can help sales representatives be more productive by untethering them from terminals and streamlining service tasks in the aisles where they are from their mobile device. The AI aspect opens a real-time window into the customer’s mindset by analyzing each interaction with the individual across all channels — from purchases and browsing history, to service calls and marketing touches — and empowering sellers to make the right recommendations — literally on the spot.

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Move Sales Representatives Closer to the Digital Customer

Despite the shift from showrooming to web-rooming, many customers opt to bypass physical locations entirely —and not just for retail, but also for their financial services, insurance, and healthcare needs.

Organizations should leverage the unique skill sets of their sales representatives by integrating them into every channel that customers use, so they can execute their strategies where customers actually engage — not just in stores or at their homes, as was historically the case. Instead of being viewed as one department, sales teams have the greatest opportunities for success when they are woven into the fabric of every customer channel —whether through chatbots on the website or the right targeted engagement through social media based on customer commentary.

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The choice for sales organizations today isn’t just between physical or digital; it’s about integrating all customer data from every channel they use and incorporating sellers into the journey. The vast array of channels isn’t killing the need for sales representatives; it instead opens up new avenues for targeted engagement. Giving salespeople the right analytics and AI tools can drive personalized selling experiences on any channel.