It seems like everyone wants to be in sales these days. The twist is the new entrants want to be in sales -- without salespeople. I spend good deal of time thinking about this because my company is an outsourced provider of sales and marketing services.
In the past decade many web based services have forever changed the way that customers interact with the makers of the products and services they buy. And those interactions are being done more often than ever without the participation of a salesperson.
Travel: Web services like Priceline, Expedia, Hotels, and Kayak have been cutting the travel agent out of the travel business for over a decade now. Some of these services have real people in call centers somewhere, but I rarely talk with them and I suspect you don't either.
Specialty: You can buy just about anything from Amazon, eBay, iTunes, and Craig's List without ever encountering a salesperson.
Advertising: Google is working hard to position itself as the salesperson for everything, but for now they are mostly disrupting the sale of advertising. Google leads the market for advertising on the web through its AdWords and AdSense programs in a largely self service model.
Homes: Zillow has not completely blown up the realtors yet, but it may not be long.
Cars: The great recession has caused the car manufacturers to dramatically reduce the number of car dealerships. And car dealerships were mostly full of salespeople. Car buying may be the next thing we do without the aid of salespeople.
Everything Else: Last week a the latest digital personal assistant, Siri, was launched. Yes I know, the Newton never panned out for Apple, and the world (and a box in my garage) is filled with failed PDAs, but if this one gets over the top, it aims to be the salesperson of everything from taxis to concert tickets. All of this done without any actual salespeople.
All of the human salespeople better do something!