Death of the salesman?

Death of the salesman?

9th August, 2018

The changing face of industrial sales and purchasing

The way we buy and sell industrial consumables is changing. Traditionally this particular market has been constrained by a rigid set of purchasing behaviours, perhaps a pre-determined list of suppliers or product type/brand dictated by the end user, even first through the door gets the order in some businesses. This is changing however, and it was inevitable. This sector is perhaps one of the last to succumb to broader buying norms but succumb it has. In 2017 research carried out by UPS found that in Europe industrial buyers were spending 49% of their allocated budged online, an increase of 7% on 2015. Of course they are and why wouldn’t they?

Purchasing industrial consumables online is a no brainer. Go online and you’ll get access to a greater number of manufacturers and suppliers, a greater choice of products and perhaps most importantly, better prices. With access to global markets commonplace, the traditional methods of industrial consumable sales are becoming redundant. Tele sales and visits from sales reps are now more of a nuisance than a help, eating up valuable time and resources with many resorting to “by appointment only” in an attempt to stem the tide of slick haired company men with bad shoes and worse sales patter. The UPS research completed a survey of 800 purchasers and found that traditional sales reps were sandwiched in popularity by company website and online search engine as ways for a purchaser to source new suppliers. No more waiting for a rep to call you back, simply search online, click and wait for your consumables to be delivered, easy.

The growth of the e-marketplace is not slowing nor is it likely to. Traditional distributors are being squeezed by fresh thinking online competitors with lower overheads, cheaper products and fresher ideas. New websites with mobile capabilities, user friendly websites and mobile apps are more relevant than ever. Many suppliers/distributors are investing in online/mobile in order to keep ahead of the game. They are, however, just playing catch up. The old fashioned sales company’s refusal to deviate from traditional methods of sales means that the most important shift in market behaviour is simply an afterthought.

The difference between success and failure going forward will be the ability to protect revenue by adapting to changes, both externally and internally. Predict the shifts, be they subtle, in customer habits and being fluid enough and gutsy enough to respond. It is for these reasons that the bright-eyed online upstarts in the industrial sales marketplace will inevitably and quickly constrict and swallow the flat footed, old fashioned, briefcase wielding, sales dinosaurs. The salesman is dead, it’s time to wake up and get online.