Consideration: Field service?
How long will the sales force of a company still exist? The traveling salesman who leaves the house in the morning, visits customers and returns home in the evening or at the weekend. Is this representative still needed? Does he still have a future? After research in Germany and abroad we come to the conclusion: No ... but.
What does a sales representative do today?
It is already the case today that sales representatives in the office can answer almost all questions in day-to-day business by telephone or by e-mail, and that in a minimum of time, both for the manufacturer and for the customer.
In addition, more and more companies/service providers, such as Amazon affect business life in the electrical sector. The customer can comfortably place his order from the armchair, even at night, and has the desired product the next day, even on the construction site, if he so wishes. A service that will be further expanded in the coming years.
Or just think of the consequences of other IT developments, be it emails, You Tube Videos etc.; here you do not need the "middleman" anymore. This not only applies to the traveler, but also to the independent sales representative. Amazon does not need a middleman.
Of course, it also depends on the industry: For the cosmetics, fashion industry or similar or the food sector, other rules may apply, but in general it can be said that the "normal" representative of a company appears to be a "discontinued model". In electrical engineering e.g. you only really need the man on the spot when it comes to more complex issues, products or introductions. Then you do not need the "normal" representative, but then the technician or the specialist is in demand. Just think for example of complicated technical lighting solutions or charging columns where the energy factor plays a certain role, here you need the technician, who also holds solutions for unusual situations.
Central agreements are concluded with major customers and marketing associations (done by the head-office, not by the representative!), the sales man is needed here at home exhibitions to look after the wholesaler's customers.
By the way, in-home exhibitions, a huge topic! In a nutshell, manufacturers do not really like these in-house exhibitions, but they are practically forced to participate. For which manufacturer can afford it, e.g. to turn down a Sonepar or Rexel invitation? It would be much better for manufacturers to devote themselves to regional trade fairs in order to present themselves to a wide audience of experts, because these costs are added. This would also enormously increase the importance of regional trade fairs.
Of course, at the regional trade fairs, such as “Elektrotechnik” in Dortmund or “Eltefa” in Stuttgart, the contractors, site managers and architects are driven back and forth to the fair by chartered buses. And then at the fair, products are not so important, but the catering at the exhibition stand. The luscious, the better. Large carrier bags with publicity material, meter bars and pens are of course also part of a trade fair visit. Product catalogs and brochures are not really in demand. The weight on the shoulder then weighs much higher than the content.
Not to mention the cost of having a large sales force.
You know it from your own painful experience: It's getting harder and harder to get professionals of all kinds. One is looking for more and more professionals (inside and outside, to stick with the example), preferably from your own industry, if only because of the complex training costs.
Conclusion: The expense for sales man can be justified in the future only if a task cannot be better solved with resources of the back or home office (product literature, marketing, office staff, etc.). I would not advise my grandson to pursue a career as a representative...