In a 2015 report titled “Death Of A (B2B) Salesman,” Forrester predicted that 1 million B2B sales reps would lose their jobs between 2012 and 2020. Two years later, Andy Hoar, the lead analyst of the research, has published a follow-up report, which validates Forrester’s initial predictions and analyzes how the B2B sales industry has evolved over time.

Here are a few key takeaways, which explain how and why business leaders are continuing to automate sales processes and promote digitally enabled commerce:

  • B2B buyers want to do their own product research. In 2015, 53% of the B2B buyers Forrester surveyed preferred to gather information on their own versus interacting with a sales rep. Today, that figure has grown to 68%. (See Figure 1 in the report.)
  • Inside sales is becoming more important for ensuring B2B success. Forrester’s survey found that upskilled inside sales will play an even greater role in all phases of SMB and enterprise sales than initially predicted in 2015. (See Figure 6 in the report.)
  • Shifting from offline to online sales is both cost- and customer-effective. Coca-Cola reported that it reduced its average cost-per-interaction by 85% by moving offline B2B customers online. Also, US Foods said that customers who buy online spend 5% more than those who only buy offline, and Levi Strauss reported that shifting its B2B customers to a self-serve portal increased its revenue by 10%.

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