105 years ago this week (9-14 July, 1916), 3,000 sales professionals gathered in Detroit, Michigan for the first sales conference of its kind - the World Sales Congress.
The marquee keynote? US President Woodrow Wilson.
Think about that for a second. Imagine going to a sales conference today, and the President is the keynote.
Add to it, imagine if your country also happened to be in the middle of a World War at the time.
That’s crazy, right? Why would a sitting president speak at a sales conference? During a World War?
Because salespeople mattered!
America was establishing itself as a world leader during the progressive era of the industrial revolution, and...
...it was salespeople who would be our success or failure, as a country!
Salespeople, selling the right solutions to the right clients - honestly, ethically, transparently, had the potential to uplift each other, our economy, and set the country’s foundation of prosperity.
Back then, sales required a face-to-face. You couldn't just pound the phones or carpet bomb emails. Humility was a requirement.
Salespeople were trusted. Salespeople were respected. Salespeople were ADMIRED!
Piles of available jobs, and exploding sales training economy in the form of books, correspondence courses, university education and even high school education filled the gaps between demand and lack of supply.
Technologies like the telephone and email caused us to lose our face, to prioritize scale, and eventually lose our reputation along with it.
Salespeople still matter.
When done right, salespeople lift up each other, companies, economies and entire countries.
In yesterday’s (July 14th’s) Wall Street Journal, an article talked about how there are currently 700,000 open sales positions, and nowhere near enough people to fill them - given a reputation of the profession. Lots of demand, but access to education is not the problem. It's the perception.
A profession where clinical levels of empathy, collaboration and ethics create customers who stay, buy more and advocate.
As Larry Levine always says, "Don't be an empty suit" (like the WSJ picture above - in this case, an empty shirt)! Do right by the profession - uplift each other - and uplift an entire economy, where everyone benefits!