Sales still matters more than social media
It’s become commonplace for observers to tout the transformative potential of digital technologies and bemoan the allegedly slow pace at which companies support these initiatives.
The amount spent, annually, by U.S. companies on field sales efforts is 3X their spending on all consumer advertising, more than 20X the spend on all online media, and more than 100X what they currently spend on social media. Selling is, by far, the most expensive part of strategy implementation for most firms.
Sales forces have NOT been replaced by social media or other internet tools. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people in sales occupations in 2012 was virtually the same as in 1992—before the rise of the internet. And this almost certainly understates the real numbers because, in an increasingly service economy, business developers in many firms are called Associates or Vice Presidents or Managing Directors, not placed in a “Sales” category for reporting purposes.
The big story is that the internet is realigning, not eliminating, sales tasks, and that deserves more attention in business media.