Traveling Salesmen a Thing of the Past?

Salesman Willy Loman may be done. It's being referred to as the "traveling salesman problem." The problem is the cost of the in-person sales call, at a time when technology, ranging from Skype to The Cloud, can provide the presentation digitally.

Bloomberg Business Weeklooks at the pros and cons of substituting technology for Salesman Willy Loman. The pros, represented by Zvi Guterman of CloudShare hammers that time is money and money is a scarce commodity in marketing and sales. The cons, represented by Adam Caplan of Model Metrics, argue the in-person call is not going away. It just has to become more focused and productive. Caplan notes, "Companies know that customers are worth investing in, and that means face time." Clearly, sending a live sales representative to visit a customer signals the importance of that relationship to the customer.

Every day in every office, both customers and vendors sort out if sending a sales representative makes economic common sense. One day there might even be a standard statement from a vendor, "It would be a disservice to you to call on you personally. That will only increase the price point for you."

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