As we have seen in recent years, the way that businesses adapt to the internet is the biggest challenge of the 21st century. We can now buy cars online, get a degree from a university in another country and access a huge range of data. It is inevitable that this will impact many sectors, with sales recruitment high on that list.
Particularly relevant for sales is the impact of the new technology on communication. Typically, communication is made up of 55% body language and 38% tone, meaning that just 7% of how we communicate is what we say. With as much as 93% of communication only being relevant when face to face, recruiting on an online platform presents problems.
Since almost all of the tactics used by traditional salespeople seemingly are unavailable when online, it has been suggested that salespeople are a dying breed.
It’s certainly true that we’re in a world where selling has dramatically changed. Customers are more commercially savvy and sophisticated in how they make purchasing decisions, re-thinking the way they buy. With access to almost unlimited information, people have an increased understanding of what they need, meaning they no longer want to be sold to.
However, before we prematurely announce its demise, salespeople have looked to evolve, using technology to find a way around the loss of traditional methods. For instance, rapport has always been the big thing for the industry, particularly on the service side of selling, and this has become increasingly significant when it comes to the Internet.
With rapport in mind, the rise in social media has been a key trend, particularly for the recruitment sector. If we look at LinkedIn alone, there are over 187 million users, with around 40% checking their profile on a daily basis. With recruiters now able to use this enormous database of contacts, this provides salespeople with another outlet to build rapport and target.
Though this does not directly reduce the fact that 93% of communication is only relevant when face to face, the industry is beginning to take note of this. Programmes are now helping recruiters build rapport with their client base through the content that they post on social platforms, helping them to build their own ‘personal brand’. This ‘personal brand’, provided the content is strong enough, entices clients that would otherwise shop around on social media platforms, communicating their expertise in an effective manner.
So what does the future hold for the industry? As technology continues to progress, we are beginning to see the return of the 93% of communication traditionally displayed by salespeople. For example, a greater number of firms include a Skype call as part of their recruitment process, with video CVs also becoming increasingly popular. While this isn’t quite the same as face to face contact, it is certainly better than the alternatives offered by the Internet.
Should this continue to extend as expected, we may even see a return towards the traditional values of sales.