I'm a salesman. But I don't travel from city to city, knocking on doors, sleeping in lonely hotel rooms. No, I cruise the Information Superhighway, sitting in an office on my (potentially) fat ass. I'm wired into the networks. I'm a cyber-salesman, d00d!
Overheard at the office:
"OK, we'll take Dialer 129 down at 3:00."
Working for DM was a quintessentially Third Wave experience.
DM's clients are purveyors of information. The reps' job is to sift through vast databases using networked computers and WATS lines to find customers interested in the information our clients have to offer. We establish a relationship between the client and the customer, take our cut, and step out of the way.
Of course, our role is a little bit more sophisticated than that. We don't merely locate and connect, we also convince. We don't simply find customers -- we create them.
As for the information products themselves, they're mostly books, magazines, videotapes. We've done a few software programs and a few CD-ROMs. They could just as easily be online services or even new dimensions (via virtual reality). The product need not have any physical form. Instead of shipping hard good via UPS, the client could simply open a gate in cyberspace and allow the customer access to their data. Hell, it doesn't matter to us. We don't even touch the product. We conduct our business in cyberspace. We're already there.
And as long as there's trade, as long as people are buying and selling or even bartering, as long as our clients have products in need of customers, we'll have a role in the economy. The independent salesman, antihero of the industrial age, is already suffering the strange sea changes of the Third Wave.
But as interest in privacy burgeons, people want to screen out sales pitches. People are shopping at home more and more, but most of them would rather initiate the telephone call themselves. Could the same technology that makes telemarketing possible ultimately defeat it?