Has there been a Death of the Sales Professional as we had known it?

Forty years ago, my grandfather worked for Abbott Laboratories as one of New England's Top Pharmaceutical Sales Professionals.  Although I never personally knew my grandfather (he died when I was just a baby) his memory was kept alive by the many stories told about his unforgettable character.  The stories painted a picture of a man "that could and would talk to anyone," "a gifted influencer", "a keen listener", and "a man whose charisma walked through the door before he did".   The consistent theme in these descriptions was that my grandfather was incredibly likable and had the ability to make an impact when he was in front of people.  Many said, "the man was born to sell."

However, in today's market where the structure of sales organizations continue to change, would those gifts of my late grandfather hold much weight if he was unemployed looking for a job in today's Sales 2.0 Generation?  What other qualities or skills would he need to have to be competitive? 

I sought out answers to these questions and asked a handful of influential sales leaders what they felt were some of the most important characteristics of a successful sales professional in the Sales 2.0 Generation.  This is some of what they said:   

1.  Process oriented approach vs early stage relationship selling:

In today's market, although it certainly doesn't fall off the list entirely, likeability may fall down a rung of the ladder of priorities when looking for successful sales professionals.  Gene Fay*, the former VP of Sales and Business Development of Vkernal Software states that "Sales 2.0 is far more about meeting customers needs then the ability to be likable."   The key difference seems to be a change in the buying process itself.  Fay goes on to say, "even three or four years ago sales people would work with a customer to educate them on a new product. Now, people are going to the web and doing much of their own research. Then they are reaching out to co-workers, friends and their network [Twitter, Facebook, and industry forums] to find out what people know about the topic.  It is after all of this work that a sales person would be engaged".   Prospects are educated when they are engaged by a sales person.  They come to the table already ready to ask specific questions that will help them compare and contrast the products they are considering from a variety of vendors. 

Adam Bosnian*, VP of Products, Strategy and Sales at Cyber-Ark Software defends a similar opinion.  "It is less about relationships in today's selling and more about impact within the buying process (vs. selling process).  I think it is more about how the salesperson today is able to pull together all the research and work that the prospects have already done, identify what gaps of information or concerns exist, and then making sure that the right information is provided to address that gap/objection at the right time, to all the right people." 

2.  The ability to assimilate to new technology immediately and without training

Dan Fantasia*, Founder and CEO of Treeline states, "The most scaleable and successful sales professionals in the Sales 2.0 Generation, don't waste powerful selling time attempting to adapt to the use of new tools.  For a Sales 2.0 Superstars there is no adaptation.  Their ability to assimilate is immediate.  New tools are a part of their everyday.  These reps are not reliant on company