Gartner finds the personal touch is still key to sales

Gartner has found that customers continue to value direct personal interaction when making technology purchases but also warns that users are much more in control

People still enjoying buying from people in the channel despite the rise of digital alternatives but sales staff can not take relationships for granted as customers are more informed about purchasing decisions.

Gartner has found that the personal touch remains important but customers are now much more in charge of their own buying cycles coming to a call with a reseller armed with information and control over the timing of a purchasing decision.

"In the past, sales was dictating the flow of information — cold calling, sending out corporate marketing literature, meeting with prospective customers, conducting sales presentations and arranging high-level executive meetings in more of a push selling model," said Hank Barnes, research director at Gartner.

"Now customers are deciding when and where the sales engagement will actually begin as well as how and where that interaction will take place in more of a pull model," he added.

One of the main pieces of advice coming out of Gartner is for those involved in B2B sales to improve sales training to make sure that some of the old approaches are not clung onto and sales staff are more in tune with the way customers are now buying.

"Providers have been fairly consistent in how they train their sales force for decades," said Tiffany Bova, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "However, these practices are now at odds with the way customers actually explore, evaluate, engage and experience a provider along their buying journey."

"The sales force of the future will need to intimately understand the customers' environment with a greater sense of the decision levers across IT and the business units. It will also need to translate technology into industry solutions and value propositions, and guide the customers to use cases they may not have considered. The sales force should therefore be viewed not as a source of technology products, but as a strategic partner helping the business evolve to meet their strategic objectives," she added.

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