THE BLOG
10/22/2013 10:57 am ET Updated Dec 22, 2013

The End of Sales Professionals As We Know Them?

End of Sales? Bold Claim, What is Behind it?
 

In the world of business, sales has long been the lifeblood of the organization. From the first customers to where a business is today, the success of sales attributes much to the achievement of the organization.

This is precisely why sales professionals are usually the highest paid employees within the organization, often making 2-3 times more than the operations, finance and marketing managers which are the ones behind the scenes helping them to get the job done.

Having said that, sales also tends to carry the most risk. Often a substantial portion of their income is tied to their performance (directly and indirectly) as well as their ability to keep customers when projects go awry. However the ability to keep the customers isn't so much a sales role as it is a customer service role, which is why the end of the sales pro, at least as we know it, may be upon us.
 
Networking is the New Sales, Google the New Yellow Pages
 
So if no sales, then what?

Let me ask you a question: When you want to buy a house, a car or a new flat panel television, who do you call? Oh wait, you don't call anyone? You research on Google? You call your friends and ask them what they have?

You know what that is called? It's called "The New Sales" and it is how we consume things today. And guess what, it is how the buyers of just about every product on the planet consume today.

Given that buyers today engage with twice as much online content as just one year ago (According to Forrester), it also is showing to be a trend that is growing more, not less, prevalent. This means a company's ability to market online is the new sales, and the role of the traditional sales person has really just become customer service.

Is that a bad thing? It is for some people who have been the "trusted advisor." But like everything, times are changing and there is just no way a sales rep can keep up with the changes as well as Google and the trusted communities of the buyers. Make sense?
 
Sales Will Never Fully Go Away, But Change is Imminent
 
Some people probably won't like that I'm saying this. I'm okay with that, but note when I say, just like gone are the days of the high margins on commodities and consumables, we have entered the day of the "New World Sales," a place where margin and profit is determined by the value you bring and customer experience that you create.

This means sales needs to focus more on managing customer relationships, delivering unparalleled service and being highly available when they are needed. These aren't necessarily new items, rather they were items that would be neglected when talking about new technology and live demos took precedence.

But the consumer as we knew it has been lost, absorbed into a world where Google answers their questions and social/trusted networks fill the voids.

Good news though...

With every great change comes great opportunity. Now that the customer is armed with as much information as we have, we can turn our attention back to nurturing the relationships through great customer experience.

So maybe sales isn't going away, it is just changing. Leaving businesses to ask themselves, how will your organization embrace the shift?

A version of this article was originally on "Millennial CEO" and can be found here.

Sign up for our email.
Find out how much you really know about the state of the nation.