The salesperson: a constant feature from the beginning of history
For more than 5000 years, the human race has traded their wares:
Caravans, maritime routes, fairs and markets have forged our civilisation over time.
From the very first transactions between Sumerian tradesmen to the emergence of large retail stores at the end of the 19th century the idea behind exchanging has remained the same:
- Something to sell
- The customer
- The salesperson
The absence of the salesperson.
In today’s world of digital online sales the salesperson has been cut out of the equation despite the explosion of saleable items available. For example Amazon sold up to 5 million different products in 2000 and more than 550 million in 2018) and not a salesperson in sight.
The general belief was that the customer took charge of their purchases, accompanied
- a range of filters based on technical criteria which needed, by definition, a general knowledge of the product universe they were purchasing from. Most people rarely have the technical know-how needed for occasional purchases (life insurance, a washing machine, a radiator…), or for which the choice of item is so vast it’s difficult to know just what to choose from (wine…),
- Customer ratings or recommendations don’t solve the problem either as they don’t necessarily correspond to the criteria other customers are looking for,
- Written technical reviews that customers are invited to read through then match the technical criteria to what it is they are searching for are often laborious and sometimes incomprehensible..
The fact that there is so much choice out there makes purchasing what should be a simple item into a stressful experience that often ends in not purchasing anything at all.
In high street stores and commercial centres, the limitless choice makes it difficult for sales and telesales people to adequately give detailed advice to customers.