New endangered species – salesmen

“What can be digitised, will be digitised” – unknown

The continuous growth of e-commerce and cloud solutions is creating a new problem of sorts – dwindling breed of salesman!

Imagine the following scenarios:

  • I can buy any books that I want to on Amazon.com without any talking to anyone at amazon.
  • I can buy clothes or shoes or accessories from Zappos without talking to anyone.
  • I can buy an insurance from ICICI Lombard General Insurance without talking to anyone.
  • I can re-charge my mobile phone online without talking to anyone from the phone company.
  • I can buy any consumer durable (TV, Fridge, mobile, AC, etc) from any online store like flipkart.com without talking to anyone.
  • I can buy stocks online without talking to anyone.
  • I can buy order food online without talking to anyone.
  • I can sign-up for a project management module from 37Signals.com without talking to anyone.
  • I can buy office productivity software from Zoho without talking to anyone.
  • I can buy furniture, groceries and almost everything online.

You get the point right! And as the internet spreads, this is only bound to increase. Everyday, more and more goods are being offered online which people could try and buy themselves.

So, what happens to the people with whom you would have interacted (sales people) to buy these stuff earlier?

  • One obvious answer is that they will need to re-skill themselves to take up other roles, most obvious could be in customer service or call centers which will still have to do some selling when there is a customer calling them.
  • The other option is for them to up-skill themselves to sell more and more complex stuff which is completely personalized and cant be offered online. This requires a completely different mental make-up and skill sets than selling pre-packaged, generic stuff requires. The demand for generic sales people will start declining and that for specialized sales people will start to rise (if not already happening).
  • Another option for them is to become designers and design the sales processes for the online shops to help them sell more. In my opinion, this is far less likely than the other two options. However, this is the option that will provide the most lucrative, interesting work for the salesmen.

Do you agree that this phenomenon will play out in this decade?

 

2 Replies to “New endangered species – salesmen”

  1. well – not everything is sold through online and it will always be the case…. at least for one more generation still. the oldest example of e-commerce is books and they are still sold on store… the higher the value of the goods (say cars, houses) – people will prefer to buy from a person rather than online.

    I know someone just bought a house on flipkart recently but that such an outlier that it was in news…

    low value transactions like buying a book or grocery may move online…. i don’t see cars moving online anytime soon.( there are other dangers for car companies – but thats another discussion) so, car salesmen or any high value goods salesmen are not dying yet…. or in next 10-20 years

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