What conclusions should sales professionals draw from the launch of Amazon Go stores? This is Amazon’s new retail concept –food outlets stocked with ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack items, but without cashiers or even a self-checkout process. The company’s website boasts, “Good Food Fast” and “No line, no checkout – just grab and go!” Are you picturing a glorified vending machine? Does this mark a new era in which purchases are made without any human involvement? What are the implications for professional sales?
It is worth noting that Amazon Go stores are not completely void of human beings, but are staffed with team members who prep food in the kitchen, stock shelves and assist customers. In fact, Amazon encourages customers to ask team members for product recommendations. The company’s decision to have personnel on site to “assist customers” and consult via product recommendations is of great relevance to sales professionals because it reflects, in a simplistic model, the critical nature and true essence of the sales role. Sales is not about the transactional process of collecting money in exchange for goods. It’s about providing insight that delivers value to the customer and improves the customer’s experience.
Amazon’s new retail model doesn’t reflect a goal of eliminating humans in the sales process; it reflects Amazon’s understanding of where value is actually delivered to its customers. Apparently, Amazon believes customers value quick access to good quality food, but they do not value standing in line to pay for their purchase. Think about it – the payment process was only ever of value to the seller, and now Amazon has implemented technology to eliminate that step in the purchase process. Brilliant!
Sales professionals need to take a page from Amazon and continually assess where we provide (or have the potential to provide) the greatest value to our customers, and then focus our time and attention on this front. Just as important, we should seek to eliminate or reduce occurrences of non-value-added processes (from the customer’s “odds are”) that serve only our own objectives. The result could be improved value delivery, customer satisfaction and cost efficiency.