Interesting question? I think we all know the answer - deep in our hearts - but many people will not want to answer it, because for them, that answer is something they cannot possibly contemplate.
That's the bad news. The good news is that it really is not that simple; yes, selling is undergoing the biggest upheaval it has ever undergone, and we do not have any choices, we have to go with the flow. The fatality list is going to be extensive - unparalleled - but for the lucky few, a new dawn beckons.
Yesterday, I promised to share my own experiences from the last sixty days, to illustrate my point. I suggested that up to 50% of sales jobs - in their present guise - will disappear within three years, and up to 80%, within five years. Ok, think about this:
I typically change my car every two years. It's a habit I have developed over the past thirty years. Why every two years? I don't know, it just is.
My usual routine has been to pop down to my local dealer, inspect the latest models, go for test drives, listen to the "salesman," and finally make my choice. But this time, I changed my habits completely. I went online, updated myself with the latest models, spoke to friends who are also drivers of that particular marque, hunted for best possible prices and then .... I went back to my regular supplier, had a test drive, negotiated price, and made my purchase.
What did I miss out? The salesperson - there was no selling involved. I didn't need persuading or selling to. The selling element was made redundant thanks to the internet - and furthermore, I saved myself 10% on the overall cost by dictating the price I was prepared to pay.
With those 10% savings safely banked, I arrived in the UK determined to enjoy Christmas with my children. I placed my total order for all my requirements online, including all the wine and spirits from my favourite supplier - just to make sure that I was not exposed to any tempting in-store offers. No selling involved.
During the run up to Christmas, I decided to upgrade my mobile phone, so having taken advice, I ordered the new Blackberry - online, at a very good price. Thus avoiding the need to go into those awful mobile phone shops and be entertained by a salesman with the IQ equivalent to a mosquito's left testicle. "Good morning sir, (although once I was called "mate") are you looking for a new phone?" To which my standard response is something like " No, actually I am here hoping to add to my stock of Bavarian mountain goats, have I come to the wrong place?" There then follows an embarrassed silence, which always feels as if it lasts for ten minutes, but in reality is probably only ten seconds, and the unfortunate young man (I am never so hard on young ladies) giggles and says something like "Oh, sir is joking, isn't he" And yes, there is the temptation to look quizzical, in some John Cleeseish way, and say "No, what makes you think that?" but by this time I am becoming bored of the sketch and it's time to move on.
Then I needed an external hard-drive that backs-up automatically - just went online and ordered, again based on advice, this time from my son - no selling involved.
Next, I decided it was time to add to my wardrobe. Did I brave the pre-Christmas frenzy in the high street? Don't be silly! I simply went back online and logged into my account with Johnnie Boden, and purchased everything I needed, which was delivered the next day - simple! No spotty youth trying to sell me a tie to go with the boxer shorts I had just purchased.
So what is the moral of this story? I think you know the answer to that. There is nothing new in suggesting that buyers are getting smarter and that they are entering the buying cycle at a much later stage, but now we are witnessing the total exclusion of selling all together.
Now you could argue that my spending spree was "commodity" based, and that I already had made my choices, based on good advice, and adept use of the internet, but isn't that the point?
How long will it be before 50% of all purchases in all market sectors are made in precisely the same manner? No more than three years is my prediction. Three years is a long time in commerce - three years ago, twitter was just a glint in it's founder's eyes!
But you know, one man's loss is another man's gain - or woman's - and tomorrow, I'll share with you how I selected my vendors and why. I'll also confirm who the new stars of the future are going to be.