Exaggerated changes in world of commerce

Many years ago a play, Death of a Salesman, painted a depressing picture of a sales career. In that play by Arthur Miller a sales career was shown to be not worthwhile, but also it was sad for those in that occupation. However, events subsequently have changed those views.

For quite some time now, the reports of the end of that occupation as something valuable have been repeated. Nowadays, it is stated that consumers are doing their own research and businesses are choosing to make their personal decisions. Consumers want only to know the price of an item, something that is predetermined in any event. Furthermore, with the advent of on line shopping, selling, in theory, has become almost obsolete. That assumption no longer is valid.

For example, nowadays medical doctors are used to sell drugs, to explain their efficacy. Some try to rely on the telephone, but that is far from satisfactory as a way to encourage sales of anything medical. Even though China is an important market, to date a sales force is not functioning there. Yet, in Korea, others are discovering that the need for a direct sales approach remains key. Even high-tech firms such as Google have on its staff thousands of sales personnel and the same is true for Apple. However, that management expert, Peter Drucker, claimed that marketing currently is making selling “superfluous”; few have become chief executives by being a salesman. To refute that, consultants like McKinsey insist that a strong sales force is vital for a firm’s success.

Despite that, many seem to believe that sales personnel are truly redundant at this time, many companies are ignoring that opinion and are beginning to pay more attention to selling, as it, as one claimed, is a kind of science.

Many of the very successful sales personnel meet the most important customers and others copy their techniques. Sales people today command a respectable salary, usually not a commission.

It was discovered that the complexity of so many things required a sales person to explain the intricate nature of numbers of items.

A startling change is the way that Japanese, Chinese, and European companies have started to pay salaries, not commissions, based on sales generated. The value of selling as a career has been reinvigorated.

Many graduate schools unfortunately have dropped selling as part of their curriculum; that certainly was a costly mistake.

Selling now is as essential as part of business operations as inventory control or finance. Even automobile dealers continue to require sales people to explain the new equipment on cars.

 Those who have disbanded their sales forces are now learning that sales people are needed more than ever.

No longer should we look down on a sales person, but rather recognize how crucial that job has become.

Bruce Whitestone