Because the Internet never became a foe of the sales force. Ironically, it became one of the sales force’s dearest friends. Rather than reduce the power of salespeople, it made salespeople more powerful than before. Internet-enabled CRM allowed salespeople to sell more efficiently and effectively anywhere in the world. LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social networks gave sellers unprecedented insights about their customers and prospects. The Internet created an entire industry of sales enablement tools that never existed before. In the end, the Internet stood with the sales force, not against it.
But more fundamentally, the doomsday criers dramatically underestimated the resilience of the sales force. I would argue that sales is the most in-tune and dynamic function inside any company. It feels shifts in the landscape before other parts of the organization, and it reacts to the marketplace the best. It has the strongest motive to succeed, and it adapts to change the fastest. In retrospect, it was a little naive to think sales forces would battle technology rather than embrace it. Salespeople welcomed the Internet with open arms.
The Internet has changed our world more than other any other technology in the 21st century; however, it doesn’t look like it will replace our salespeople. Companies still need them, and customers still want them. It turns out that sales forces are more than just walking, talking brochures and order forms — they add a lot of value. So how will the Internet and sales trends evolve over the next 15 years? I’m not sure, but I bet it makes our sales forces even better than they are now.