Trade plays a key role in sales, and it is of great benefit for anyone engaged in any level of sales to learn the fundamentals of trade. It is also of great benefit to understand how trade has evolved–for every evolution in trade has had a profound impact on sales.
Like any endeavor, trade has evolved through time, and has passed through stages. Because each stage contributes to the current state of trade, a way to refer to each of these stages is as dimensions. Each dimension contributes and becomes a foundation for the next.
In our first Dimensions of Trade blog post we covered the first 2 dimensions of trade: the ancient trade routes–the Silk Road and the Amber Road–and the great sailing ships that finally came to prominence in the 1500s.
For our purposes, we could say that the diesel ships of modern times that succeeded the sailing ships are also part of the second dimension, but cross into the third dimension. The same could be said for the trains that came about for overland travel and freight. Both shipping and rail brought is into our third dimension of trade: flight.
The Air Age Takes Off
While it was certainly around before then, the real breakthrough in commercial flight came after World War II. A huge number of airplanes were manufactured during the war, and when it was over companies didn’t know what to do with them all. Aircraft manufacturers realized that heavy and super-heavy bomber airframes could easily be converted into commercial aircraft; these planes could be used for passengers and freight, and a whole new industry was born. As the boom in commercial flight occurred, airports also increased in number so that there would be places for these planes to land and from which to take off.
How rapidly did commercial air grow? In the year 1950, there were around 50 million people travelling by air. 40 years later it was up at around 500 million. Last year it was over 2.3 billion. Note that this has all happened in less than a lifetime.
Dimensions, Responsibility and Timeframes
As a side note, you can see how technology shortens up timeframes. The first trade dimension, the “roads”, lasted over 2,000 years. The sailing ships, at least through their prime, lasted several hundred years. The air age came about and took over in just a little over 70 years.
Interestingly, we can see that different kinds of entities were responsible for each of the different dimensions:
- The 1st dimension trade routes–the “roads”–were brought about by the traders.
- The 2nd dimension, sailing ships, came about and was controlled by the empires: Spanish, English, Dutch, Portuguese, and Italian.
- The 3rd dimension, commercial air flight, has been evolved and carried forward by global corporations.
This third dimension brought about a trend which is now being perceived as a real threat to local economies: placing manufacturing and production facilities in foreign countries. Goods could be transported so fast and so cheaply, manufacturing moved into the cheapest areas of the globe for operation.
Correlation to Sales
Just as with our first and second dimensions, this third dimension has a direct correlation to sales, and in fact could not function without them.
To begin with, it was and still is salespeople that sell commercial airliners to the companies that use them. It is salespeople that sell air freight services, and salespeople that are responsible for selling each and every shipment that is made through air freight.
Examining passenger travel, tourists have one thing in common: they want to buy things. They purchase their travel. They make purchases in airports. They buy items and services at their destinations. They stay at hotels. All of these are handled by salespeople–they always have been and always will.
All the way back to the beginning, and up through today, we can see how these dimensions proudly reflect in the entrepreneurial salespeople (who I refer to as salespreneurs) of today.