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. In our second post, we took off into the 3rd dimension–that of commercial air.
We have now moved into the 4th dimension, enabled by advanced technology and the internet: the mobile society. It is a change that is still in progress, but we see more and more evidence of it every day.
What Is a Mobile Society?
A mobile society means a person can work wherever they want. Because of the Internet and the many innovations in technology, it is possible for someone to say, “Hey, I want to live and work in Tahiti!” and for that to actually come about.
This trend might appear as a threat to some companies that totally depend on having their staff in one location–but increasingly companies are “decentralizing” and having their staff work from their own locations.
An example is Brown, Boveri, a Swiss Company. The company is headquartered in Baden, Switzerland. They have 250,000 employees, but there are only a few hundred people working in their headquarters. The rest are all over the world.
Another example is Accenture. They also have over 200,000 staff, but they also have no headquarters, and have staff located throughout the world.
My company, Pipeliner Sales, is also a prime example of this trend as well. Our staff are located through three different countries. I live and work in Pacific Palisades, California, and arise at 4 AM to “meet” with my development team in Bratislava, Slovakia. and my other staff in Vienna, Austria.
Automation Empowering the Change
How far has automation come? The first US-built electronic programmable computer, the ENIAC, introduced in 1943, had a mere 80 bytes of high-speed memory. To accomplish that it used 200 kilowatts of electric power, contained over 18,000 vacuum tubes, 1,500 relays, hundreds of thousands of resistors, capacitors, and inductors, and weighed 30 tons. It had a fraction of the computing power of today’s portable notebook that is carried around and utilized for today’s computing activities.
It is the power of computing that has made possible this 4th dimension, by enabling personal and business interaction with and through the web. Automation has literally brought about a virtual society.
Automation will only continue to evolve, and I truly believe that in the long run, people will only perform the functions that automation cannot, such as innovation and creative activities.
Of course, the opportunities offered within our 4th dimension are massive. A business can be started in any location, because it is time-independent. It can operate 24/7. The only things a person would really need is a reliable, fast computer and internet access. This provides incredible opportunities for the future.
As we’ve seen going all the way back to the first dimension, none of this would be possible without sales. All of the goods and services being provided throughout our mobile society are being sold by salespeople.
In the 4th dimension, the skills of salespeople must be stronger than ever, for in many cases the salesperson is not in the same location as the prospect. Sometimes only a salesperson’s voice is what is coming across. For that reason understanding of a prospect and their issues must be very acute, and communication must be very accurate. This can create quite a set of challenges across cultural boundaries–but these challenges are being well-met every day.
Additionally, because of the entrepreneurial nature of our mobile society, it often happens that an entrepreneur, founder or other type of company leader must learn sales skills because they are the only ones selling, at least at first. As noted earlier in this series, sales is a craft, not an art, and fortunately can be learned by anyone.