June 26, 2012
The Advance of the “No Touch” Sales Model: On obsolescence in the vendor-buyer "partnership"
Every major legal publisher has an eCommerce site for purchasing products. We routinely see this in the advertising spam that fills our email boxes with “Deals of the Day” and time-sensitive discount codes for executing multiple purchases via vendor websites. This is called “no touch” sales. By “no touch” is meant the automated processing of sales transactions – no labor cost expensive human interaction required on the vendor side of this “partnership.”. Just “click” to make the purchase and input the necessary billing data. (Don't be surprised if billing data is automatically filled in the online order form some day.) It's the Amazon model.
The difference is that Amazon has always been a “no touch” seller. Our legal vendors have not. Will we see the day when real human beings will only be servicing uber large accounts and the rest of us will be “no touched” for print standing orders and online licensing? I think it is very possible that we will.
Downsizing sales forces and reorganizations of sales territories is already becoming an almost annual event. It is not beyond the realm of the industry’s cost-savings objectives that the only humans in a sales force will be those who hunt for new accounts in the field. Why? Could it be because the MBA-types who are calling the shots fail to understand the sales relationship between vendor field reps and buyer reps? Could it be because they never received an education in sales in B-Schools? Could it be because all they understand about a sales force is that they have to meet in Las Vegas every year?
It certainly can be the objective of some vendors to make their field reps obsolete and hopefully make well-informed buyer reps also obsolete by way of No Touch eCommerce sites. Just market sales pitches to ill-informed individual consumers. At the moment, West Mart is leading the vendor pack in implementing “no touch” sales by way of its eCommerce site and its OnePassYourAss scheme. Will other vendors follow to this extreme into the twilight zone of mutual obsolescence because the human factor just doesn’t compute in the business model for sales? [JH]