Home > Technology > Will salespeople be replaced by technology?

Will salespeople be replaced by technology?

What are some examples of technology eliminating salespeople from the buying process and do you think that salespeople will be replaced by technology? - by Community Mailbox
What are some examples of technology eliminating salespeople from the buying process and do you think that salespeople will be replaced by technology?
Some sales trainers have recently offered a new and improved form of “shock” method for getting attention for their future book and seminar sales. They are warning us that we had better be prepared to buy their sales material or find ourselves unemployed: it seems the Internet will be replacing the sales professional and it is already happening. At least according to them.

Ironically, they are not aware that the pendulum has already been swinging the other way. Lawrence Schmidt asked in his book, The End of Ethics in a Technological Society (2007), with the possibility of the numerous Internet identities we can create for ourselves,” Can human beings degrade themselves through their collective self-creation?” John Palfrey who wrote, Born Digital, (2008) states, “The ability to make quality judgments about information on the Internet is not an innate skill.” This has also lead to profound ethical problems, as too much information is already being peddled as another form of propaganda, basically being dispensed like reading “Fortune Cookies.”

These “doomsday Sayers” are obviously also unaware that people have been predicting the demise of the sales representative since the early 20th Century. In 1916 the New York Times asked, “ Are salesman necessary?” After all, advertisement was far more efficient and “railroads had turned the farms into cities,” where new spreads at a rapid rate. It was E. B. Weiss who wrote, The Vanishing Salesman (1962) that caught everyone’s attention. Weiss explained that through pre-qualifying, pre-selling, branding and by focusing corporate funding on extensive marketing, the salesman would be essentially eliminated. The “face-to-face” technique was becoming obsolete from the expense standpoint and efficiency. This is exactly what these new gurus are recommending as a cure for this terminal career option. Well, what happened?

To assume that the sales profession is fading due to the ease of using the Internet as a source of “information” comes from simply misunderstanding the various facets of commerce and how they function. Specifically, the Internet offers marketing methods to be utilized by the sales staff; sales and marketing are not the same. The Internet is just another marketing tool or method and cannot replace the sales professional because that is not what the Internet is designed to do. It is the sales professional that can offer “knowledge” which is not the same as Internet, often faulty, “information.”

From the telegraph to the cell phone, the methods of communication have changed but what does that have to do with what we say to the person we’re calling? Advertising and marketing has moved from the local newspaper and the Sears catalogue of long ago, to the Internet but advertising cannot answer non-traditional consumer questions. Marketing is a one-way-delivery system only offering information within predetermined programming. The sales agent also brings back the product or service impact on the consumer to the corporate office for review and operations revision. - by John Voris
Go guy a guitar online... If your a musician, you will not buy a guitar online, you want to test it, feel it. And you will have a saledman around.

If there was no salesman no one would have a job.

But we never know the future. - by FrankB
Go guy a guitar online... If your a musician, you will not buy a guitar online, you want to test it, feel it. And you will have a saledman around.

If there was no salesman no one would have a job.

But we never know the future.
Your guitar example is superb. But I have a question,

"If people did buy guitars online, what does that say about them?"

"What does that say about their expectations of the guitar and themselves?"

"What does that say about their idea of quality?"

People would not have any appreciation for their individuality. Manufacturers would learn to cater to the common denominator of a diluted appreceation exhibited by the masses.

If everyone was looking for the same quality, what would happen to competition?

Eventually, the number of guitar manufacturers would be limited to generic, type and style, and the populous would not know what it felt like to match their individuality to an instrument.

No two pool cues feel the same in the stroke and they are just pieces of wood. - by John Voris
Your guitar example is superb. But I have a question,

"If people did buy guitars online, what does that say about them?"

"What does that say about their expectations of the guitar and themselves?"

"What does that say about their idea of quality?"

People would not have any appreciation for their individuality. Manufacturers would learn to cater to the common denominator of a diluted appreceation exhibited by the masses.

If everyone was looking for the same quality, what would happen to competition?

Eventually, the number of guitar manufacturers would be limited to generic, type and style, and the populous would not know what it felt like to match their individuality to an instrument.

No two pool cues feel the same in the stroke and they are just pieces of wood.
I'm not a musician but I'm assuming no two guitars, even of the same model would have the exact same feel--and the same could be said for pool cues or sailboats for that matter. There is an intimacy that develops with those products that transcends the apparent fact that they are inanimate. After a while I realized that my sailboat could "talk to me."

However, that is not the same for all products. Bose Wave sound systems are sold online, mail order, and through 800 numbers in much greater quantities than the Bose retail outlets.

Forms of DISTRIBUTION will continue to evolve and change. Technology will continue to be accepted, rejected, or discarded. There was a time, years ago, when you could order a donkey from a Sears Roebuck catalog. Professionals who sell will continue to be the ambassadors to existing products and services, and to those that haven't even been invented yet. - by Gary A Boye
The internet is a wonderful source of information. Many things can sold or bought on it.

To Gary's point, guitars do have a special feel. In 1965 (as a college freshman), I visited a music store in my home town and picked up a Gibson L-5 arch top guitar. And couldn't put it down for about 20 years!

I had to own it. But a human helped me to maximize the output from it.

The role of salesperson has evolved from the "Closer" era to a era of accelerated value. In other words, today's salesperson must add some kind of value to the process.

It may be in facilitating a discovery of unknown needs among various elements of a company. It might be assistance in using the product or service once it has been sold.

As long as a salesperson delivers value in a "high touch" way, Skynet and the machines will have to wait a little longer.

Magicman - by magicman
Yes, many sales positions will be replaced by technology. - by Jeff Blackwell
Hum. Provocative and firm conclusion. Would you elaborate a little on that viewpoint? - by magicman
Weekly Updates!
Questions and Answers about Selling
Subscribe to our mailing list to get threads and posts sent to your email address weekly - Free of Charge.