Sales professionalism 19

By:  Dr. M. Shehab

All rights reserved to the writer

Role of sales people in society

Through the last decade sales jobs increase rapidly in many sectors with different roles and functions. Numbers of sales people reach to thousands in many companies. For example, Microsoft has 16,000 salespeople, American Express has 23,000, and Pepsi co has 36,000 in USA. We see this clearly in pharmaceutical companies during this period where Pfizer have the largest field force all over the world.

Sales person (medical rep) has a great roles not only for his organization as a seller to company’ products (revenue producer) or good source of information but he contributes to his nation’s economic growth in two basic ways; He acts as stimuli for economic transactions, and he further the diffusion of innovation.

Salesperson (medical rep) as Economic Stimuli: he is expected to stimulate action in the business world. In a fluctuating economy, he makes invaluable contributions by assisting in recovery cycles and by helping to sustain periods of relative prosperity. As the world economic system deals with issues such as increased globalization of business, more emphasis on customer satisfaction, and building competitiveness through quality improvement programs, it is expected that sales person will be recognized as a key force in executing the appropriate strategies and tactics necessary for survival and growth.

Salesperson (medical rep) and Diffusion of Innovation: he plays a critical role in the diffusion of innovation, the process whereby new products, services, and ideas are distributed to the members of society. Consumers who are likely to be early adopters of an innovation often rely on salespeople as a primary source of information. By encouraging the adoption of innovative products and services, salespeople may indeed be making a positive contribution to society.

Diffusion of Innovation (Innovation adoption model)

Diffusion of Innovations is a theory that seeks to explain how, why, and at what rate new products and ideas spread through cultures. Diffusion is the process by which new products and ideas are communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system. Sales person (medical rep) is a good communication channel for all companies to its customers.

There are 4 main elements influence the spread of new products: the innovation, communication channels, time, and a social system. Diffusion of an innovation occurs through a five steps process as a type of decision-making.

1-      Knowledge: In this stage the individual is first exposed to an innovation but lacks information about it. Individual hasn’t been inspired to find more information about the innovation.

2-      Persuasion: In this stage the individual is interested in the innovation and actively seeks information/detail about the innovation.

3-      Decision: In this stage the individual takes the concept of the change and weighs the advantages/disadvantages of using the innovation and decides whether to adopt or reject the innovation. it is the most difficult stage.

4-      Implementation: In this stage the individual employs the innovation to a varying degree depending on the situation. Individual determines the usefulness of the innovation and may search for further information about it.

5-      Confirmation: In this stage the individual finalizes his/her decision to continue using the innovation. This stage is both intrapersonal (may cause cognitive dissonance) and interpersonal, confirmation the group has made the right decision.

 New Picture

Adopter category

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Adopter category




Innovators are the first individuals to adopt an innovation. They are willing to take risks, youngest in age, have the highest social class, have great financial liquidity; they are very social and have closest contact to scientific sources and interaction with other innovators.

Early adopters


Early adopters are individuals who adopt an innovation. They have the highest degree of opinion leadership among the other adopter categories. Early adopters are typically younger in age, have a higher social status, have more financial lucidity, advanced education, and are more socially forward than late adopters. More discrete in adoption choices than innovators. Realize judicious choice of adoption will help them maintain central communication position

Early Majority


Early majority adopt an innovation after a varying degree of time. This time of adoption is significantly longer than the innovators and early adopters. Early Majority tend to be slower in the adoption process, have above average social status, contact with early adopters, and seldom hold positions of opinion leadership in a system

Late Majority


Late majority will adopt an innovation after the average member of the society. They approach an innovation with a high degree of skepticism and after the majority of society has adopted it. Late Majority are typically skeptical about an innovation, have below average social status, very little financial lucidity, in contact with others in late majority and early majority, very little opinion leadership.



Individuals in this category are the last to adopt an innovation. They show little to no opinion leadership. They typically have an aversion to change-agents and tend to be advanced in age. Laggards typically tend to be focused on “traditions”, likely to have lowest social status, lowest financial fluidity, be oldest of all other adopters, in contact with only family and close friends.

The Role of Social Systems (Opinion Leaders)

Throughout the diffusion process there is evidence that not all individuals exert an equal amount of influence over all individuals. In this sense there are Opinion Leaders, leaders who are influential in spreading either positive or negative information about an innovation. Opinion Leaders have the most influence during the evaluation stage of the innovation-decision process and late adopters.

The role of sales person (medical rep) is to build good relationship with opinion leaders to influence them to give positive information to their followers. Sales person (Medical rep) although plays a role as effective communication channel for diffusion.

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