There's an annoying doomsday argument in the "blogosphere" that -- because of rapidly changing technology -- professional sales is dead or dying.
The idea rears its ugly head every now-and-then. And it often comes from technofiles (lovers of all things high-tech).
Apparently, the argument goes like this: Because buyers are able to use the internet to...
- Make transactional purchases; and
- Get information about salespeople and their offerings,
The sales profession is dying on the vine.
On the other side of the coin, they also say that technology gives salespeople an excuse to avoid talking to prospects because they can rely on a Twitter Feed, Facebook Fans, or LinkedIn Connections to meet quota.
That's a cynic's view of technology. It builds followers. It also ignores the very real, offline relationships that human beings need.
As I said in response to a recent Focus.com question, there will always be consumers who want to buy their shoes online, but I challenge you to find very many people willing to buy things like capital equipment, houses, thoroughbred horses, or airplanes without some input from an expert (i.e., a sales professional). Indeed, I was recently tasked with buying a healthcare plan for The Brooks Group's staff. I've never done that before. I wouldn't have dreamt of making that kind of decision without talking to a number of salespeople.
Yes: Thanks to the internet, salespeople will find some prospective customers with access to more information than ever before. However, there are always questions about products and services that prospects don't think (or know) to ask. There were a lot of healthcare plan-related questions I didn't know to ask. Thankfully, I came across a number of competent, professional salespeople who helped me make the right decision. There will always be a role for those kinds of professionals.
In essence, I agree with my friend Paul McCord on his point that the sales profession is safe.
"Sales 2.0" is really about using tools and technology that make the sales interaction -- and everything that goes into it -- more effective. Of course, I'm not going to tell anyone to ignore technology. That's just as foolish. Instead, the magic is in using technology that makes you more effective. I love using tools like SalesForce.com, Eloqua, Hootsuite, etc. But I also know that I can't hide behind them.
Regardless of what you call them, these advances mean that salespeople will need to be more "on-top-of-their-game." So, let's step-it-up!