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Man vs Machine: The Evolving Role of the Sales Rep in the Era of eCommerce

Laura Broman | November 15, 2018

“Am I scared of a stupid computer? Please. That computer should be scared of me. I was Salesman of the Month for 13 out of the last 12 months.” – Dwight Schrute, The Office

In the twenty-first century, everything begins with a little “e”: email, ebook… and eCommerce. Everything’s turning “e,” and eCommerce is on the rise as an essential part of many companies’ operations.

When we’ve talked about eCommerce before, we’ve discussed how to strengthen your company’s eCommerce component, or how to stand up to that great eCommerce boogeyman, Amazon. But we’re missing an important piece of the picture here: those members of your company who might not view a shiny new eCommerce platform as a good thing.

What about the sales reps?

Is the rise of eCommerce the death knell for B2B salespeople? Are they just another instance of the tradition of machines replacing people that has been going on since the Industrial Revolution? Are they now going to go the way of Blockbuster and the Pony Express, fading gradually into obsolescence?

Of course not. Your salespeople are still essential to the health and prosperity of your company. But as eCommerce continues to take hold, there may need to be a certain reframing of the role your sales reps play.

Bruce Merrifield of The NEWS might be helpful in creating this new frame. In his recent article for the HVAC/R publication, “Six Steps to a More Customer-centric Sales Force,” Merrifield offers a number of different analytical lenses through which you can reexamine your sales staff.

We highly recommend Merrifield’s piece for anyone who’s wondering how their sales team will fit into the digital New World. eCommerce is here to stay, and understanding how the role of the sales rep will change is a vital part of this technological evolution.

Read Bruce Merrifield’s article here.

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