By 2020, one million business to business sales jobs will have disappeared, predicts Forrester, a research and advisory firm. In his article, “5 Ways to Succeed in the Changing World of Sales,” Matt Mayberry discusses his meeting with the McCann Worldgroup’s former chief strategy officer, Ryan Estis. During the meeting, Estis tells Mayberry that, “The first ones to go will be the salespeople who can’t differentiate themselves — who can’t make themselves part of the value proposition.” So, how does a salesperson become one of the ones who stands out? Fear not, Estis also provides some tips on how to remain relevant in this ever-changing field.

  1. Research

One of the most frustrating things you can do to a client is attempt to make a sale without knowing even the most basic details about his company. If you don’t do your research, you’ll have no idea what your client’s needs are and, therefore, what to sell him. It’s the first and most basic step to sales and yet it’s one that’s often pushed to the wayside. Unlike how it sometimes felt in school, this homework will show its relevance and worth immediately.

  1. Teach

Estis says that, “Teaching is a gateway into a credible relationship built on trust.” Thinking back to school again, who were your favorite teachers? Hopefully they were the ones who took the time to thoroughly explain the critical parts of their lectures and answer your questions in an easy to follow way. Follow that example and make sure that your client is fully educated on what you’re selling and how it will benefit his company. Having that knowledge will make him more comfortable buying from you and will also lay excellent groundwork for a healthy business relationship.

  1. Be Concise

Advice that salespeople frequently receive is that you should keep in contact with your clients as often as possible. However, frequent communication is often poorly interpreted as spam, especially if you fill your clients’ mailboxes with any kind of follow-up email you can think of. If your client opens enough emails from you that contain nothing but irrelevant information, he’ll stop opening them altogether. Yes, you should keep in contact with your client, but only reach out to him with useful information. It’ll save both of you some time and energy.

  1. More Research

Yes, it’s that important. Remaining relevant in the ever-changing business world of sales requires you to do the research to keep your knowledge up to date. How else are you going to find useful information to put in those follow-up emails? You should be constantly on the lookout for ways to help your clients, even outside of what you could sell them next. Keep an eye out for potential problems that could occur with what you sold them and have a plan to fix it before it happens. Search for more information on what you sold to your clients and teach them what you’re learning. A knowledgeable salesperson is a secure salesperson.