The traditional sales process where buyers would contact the sales reps at the start of the buying cycle is being replaced. A survey by Corporate Executive  Board found that  B2B buyers are 57% of the way through the buying decision before even talking to a supplier. Another survey by global technology firm SAP shows that 80% of buyers knowing what they want before even contacting a vendor. If you are still following the old sales process and waiting for buyer to contact you for product data sheet, you are in for a long wait. What does it mean for the traditional B2B selling where vendors have been the major source of information?

For one, the buyers are contacting the sellers much later in the buying process so the sales guys have fewer opportunities to influence the buying process. It does not mean the sale guys have become redundant, just that their role has changed. Indeed, surveys suggest that 53% of a customer’s opinion of your company is from prior to the close of the sale.

The modern sales person needs to think and act like marketers – understand who the ideal customer is, connect with them and build relationships by providing personalized service. Sales guys need to become an authority and go above and beyond the product literature to be able to add value to their customers.

Read more about it on Forbes.com in the future of sales by Daniel Newman.