The Evolution of Sales Part 1


Guest articles > The Evolution of Sales Part 1


by: Daniel Milstein


It is hard to believe that not so long ago, most salespeople actually took all customer applications by hand, or that consumers could only buy books, shoes and computers at retail outlets. So much has changed in the sales profession, and there is so much to look forward to that I envy salespeople of the future. They will be better trained, have amazing opportunities and enjoy more respect than their predecessors.

I have a good understanding of the future of Gold Star, but am also interested in the future of the sales profession and, more specifically, the challenges and opportunities that await salespeople in different fields. For newer salespeople and those who haven't yet started their sales careers, these potential developments should be of special interest.

The sales function has substantially evolved during the last 50+ years, since pioneering salespeople began 'peddling' cash registers, encyclopedias, cars and a myriad of other products. Early salespeople often carried bulky sample cases door-to-door. Now it's the age of the Internet marketplace.

The dramatic changes to the sales profession have greatly affected the way we conduct business. For example, as late as 1998 loan officers took handwritten applications, careful not to make a mistake because 'white out' or correction tape was not allowed (to avoid the appearance of fraud). The automated approval process hadn't been developed. Overworked appraisers would prepare their handwritten reports and attach a Polaroid photo, hoping that one day electronic submissions would make their jobs easier. It typically took an agonizingly slow 90 days to close a loan. Taking applications on an office computer, a laptop or more recently an iPad has significantly streamlined the loan process. A borrower with good credit can have their loan closed in 15 days, even in today's stricter lending environment.

Salespeople in other professions have experienced similar changes. Whereas earlier it was necessary to conduct most business face-to-face, e-mail has offered a faster way to initiate contact and provide status reports. A proliferation of software programs has enhanced much of the salesperson's daily routine, from the initial application process to database management. Online sales have increased in diverse product categories. Dell Computers was one of the first companies to embrace Internet commerce; eventually followed by, and numerous others. Much of the change in the way people buy is dictated by shifting demographics; the younger generation is more comfortable with Internet stores, preferring to make many purchases from their favorite Websites.

There may be a few long-time salespeople who prefer the pre-Internet era, but I have yet to meet any of them. Each year more and more technological advancements expand the opportunities of sales professionals.


Daniel Milstein is the bestselling author of ABC of Sales. For more information, visit:

Contributor: Daniel Milstein

Published here on: 28-Sep-14

Classification: Sales