An IT recruiter has slammed claims made by an analyst that self-service sales models will make huge swathes of B2B sales staff redundant, insisting that face-to-face engagement is essential when selling most technology.
Yesterday, Forrester said that by 2020, in the US alone, one million B2B sales jobs will be wiped out as customers snub face-to-face interaction and prefer a self-service approach instead.
Paul Davis, managing director of IT recruiter Merlin Corp, disputed the claims and said in the B2B technology industry, reliance on knowledgeable sales staff will only increase.
"There are certain products in B2B where if you are just re-ordering or if you understand your product, it is not that difficult to bypass the need to have a sales person," he said. "However, in my belief, the fact that the industry is now focused on solutions, what's happening is the client wants to say ‘this is my problem, these are my challenges, this is the direction I want to go in - please can you sort it?'.
"IT companies are focused on annuity-based revenue because that keeps them alive for years to come, so it is predominantly services or outsourcing [that they focus on]. So for the salespeople selling services, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It is not as easy as saying ‘that'll do the job', it is just not like that."
Merlin Corp specialises in recruitment in the software-asset management (SAM) space, which Davis claims is booming at the moment. He said in such a specialist field, a do-it-yourself approach is simply not enough for customers.
"In the licensing and SAM arena, you have got a push-pull going on," he said. "The vendors want to audit the end user to make sure they are paying for what they are using and the end user, nine times out of 10, doesn't know they are illegally using a licence. The last thing a CIO wants is for an audit from a vendor to find that half of next year's budget is to be used just to satisfy the position you're in at the moment. Therefore they are paying people to come in and offer them a ‘get out of jail free' card."
He said the high stakes in the SAM space mean hiring specialist staff is essential and is not something an automated, self-service model can replace.
"The sad thing about compliance on software is if you are non-compliant it is not just a case of taking a risk and you might get caught, it is [a case of] if you do get caught, you will get fined a huge amount of money. If you have got one or two people using old hardware, you can still get the job done. You are not going to get sued for using an old processor."
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