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Next week, I’m heading to the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. I’m going because I desperately want to learn as much as possible about how technology is influencing (dramatically changing?) the sales role. I’m most interested in what technology will do to the relationships between salespeople and their prospects. There seem to be two camps. Here they are at their extremes:

First, there are the people who say that the need for salespeople will completely disappear. They argue that between technology and social networks, people don’t want (need?) to talk to salespeople anymore. They take Arthur Miller’s play “Death of a Salesman” at face value.

On the other end of the spectrum are the people who say that technology will have no effect. They say that because “people buy from people,” computers and technology can’t interrupt that chain.

No surprise…I fall in the middle. There’s no question that it’s already had a pretty dramatic impact. The most “transactional” sales were impacted by technology in 215 B.C. when the first vending machine was invented (it dispensed holy water at an Egyptian Temple). However, complex, business-to-business sales will always need salespeople to help customers through their buying process.

The better question is: What will it take to thrive as a salesperson in an increasingly plugged-in world?

Anyway, I’m going to San Francisco next week to get a better handle on exactly what, why, and how technology will change our profession.

I’ll let you know what I discover.