Why the Internet killed the old salesman at the golf course

The salesman at the golf course

Formerly the salesman or sales manager could be doing his business during an afternoon golf with other businessmen. This setting has been portrayed and idealized over many years.

The salesman:
- Could do his business with people he knew since long
- Had a Rolodex with business cards where he could rely upon
- Was more an account manager than a sales guy

His world was organized and nothing could really interfere in his sales or customer retention process.
Business, golf and pleasure all fitted well together.

Communication technologies

Communication technologies have changed the way people do business over years:
Fax
Fax introduced the speed of immediate delivery of documents – no physical transport required.
Thus the salesman didn’t need to visit and collect the order anymore.
That meant less face to face communications, thus less information exchanged.

Email
Email brought the increase of speed in written communications – both ways.
There were no more delays as with mailing letters and waiting for a physical reply.
The salesman could communicate more directly and have faster interactions.
This has increased his productivity, as he could respond more quickly and could work on more deals at one time.
Additionally there is an administrative benefit as the emails are kept automatically in a folder. Hence no administrative filing and easy retrieval.

Mobile phones
Mobile phones made the salesperson available everywhere.
Previously calling could only be done in the office or at home which limited the availability during the week of a salesman.
Using a mobile phone, the salesman can discuss with the potential customers or customers anywhere and anytime.
Instead of face to face communications requiring appointments, calls could be made whenever possible and appropriate.

The Internet
The Internet has bought several changes:
1) Information distribution
The internet made company, product and services information available to interested parties and to customers, without needing to ask the salesman
The salesman was no longer in the loop with interested parties and customers
This has led to the rise of the “Unknown Buyer“.

2) Rolodex
The Internet allowed finding and / or retrieval of possible contacts within an organization or company.
At first this started with simple searches on Google using the domain name.
Then the specific organized websites like LinkedIn, Plaxo, Jigsaw, Zoominfo, Xing, Spoke, Viadeo, …

The partly free availability of contact information:
- Decreased the power of the salesman with the Rolodex significantly.
- Changed cold calling forever.
This has increased the competition and will continue to increase competition as people within companies have become addressable.

3) Webinars
Instead of paying a visit, sales people could set-up webinars in order to give an on-line interactive sales presentation.
No travel required for a first meeting with the interested parties: hence fewer costs and less waste of time for travel.
Again the salesman could follow-up on more leads than before and quickly move on if the potential customer is not interested.

Still playing golf?

The Salesman can still spend his days on the golf course, while his invited business friends will be receiving phone calls or emails from competition on their smart phones whilst playing golf.
By the time the game is over, the competition could already have sent a quotation by email received on the smart phone.

Are you still playing golf too ?

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