Like it or not, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here. If you’ve used a search engine then you have interacted with AI. Google, Amazon, LinkedIn, YouTube, or just about any eCommerce site on the internet is using AI to deliver you smart recommendations and targeted advertising. You’d be more likely to find a sober Irishman at a St Patrick’s Day festival than you are to find a modern sales professional who hasn’t interacted with a human-like chatbot in the last 48 hours.
In its simplest form, AI is a computer that can do things that require what used to be called “human intelligence”. The computer works through a series of tasks in a linear fashion at a speed that supersedes the human brain and gives the impression it is making decisions for itself. Just like a human.
It’s prevalent. Accessible. Necessary to the modern salesperson. But it’s more than just an algorithm. It’s more than a chatbot. It’s more than an automated calendar scheduler. It is being used by tech behemoths to produce data-backed customer insights, sales forecasts, and enablement strategies.
The Salesforce CRM leverages AI to learn and adapt based on opportunity attributes, rather than mere closed/won vs closed/lost metrics. It’s called Einstein. Einstein provides recommendations to your sales team based on your unique customer data and processes, then automates responses and actions accordingly. It also provides incredibly accurate forecasting based on machine learning and algorithms that avoid pessimism or optimism. OutboundWorks is a company employing AI to drive personalization at scale for sales pipeline creation..
Are the robots taking over?
Yes and no. For salespeople with no TQ, AI will make their jobs obsolete. But those willing to embrace and adapt will flourish. AI isn’t your enemy as a salesperson it’s your ally and can become your digital assistance, feeding you with leads and performing mundane tasks to free your time to do high-value human activities. Together you can be something truly special. You can analyze, predict, and leverage greater amounts of data and information than ever before, and in less time. You can tailor your conversation, solution, language, messaging, even your outfit, so that it suits your customer’s needs.
Technology can be scary if you aren’t willing to embrace it. If you’re one of the many “hit-the-pavement” kind of sales reps who look at change like a month-old carton of milk as you pour it down the sink, then you have cause to be concerned about your job prospects.
We (consumers) are comfortable with AI. We interact with it on a daily basis as we shop online, talk with chatbots, or scroll through a newsfeed. Bots are everywhere, disguised as humans and doing the jobs that customer service and sales reps once dread. This is a good thing. If you embrace it your efficiency will skyrocket. It’s a way to focus on the top 20%, the high impact activities that actually shift the needle. We’ve been complaining about administrative tasks and time-wasters for decades, so what are your excuses now that Cheryl the robot can do all of that for you?
Even with technology, humans crave connection. They want to talk with you, but they expect more than before. They expect a personalized experience that is backed by AI-driven analysis. Your job is to create an environment where that is possible. The robots aren’t taking over, they are just coming to a party where you’re the host. Focus on the human strengths of creativity, empathy and emotional connection.
The future of AI
Once we let the shackles off, AI will explode. What you’re seeing with Salesforce Einstein, Google Duplex, and OutboundWorks is just the beginning. The adoption and proliferation of AI will only accelerate as people become more comfortable with it and salespeople stop panicking about losing their job. The future goes beyond predictions, forecasts, and a few chatbots. It’s about AI underpinned with big data and machine learning to equip salespeople with powerful insights at the exact moment you need it. A time will come when you will walk up to a sales meeting and your digital assistant will provide accurate forecasts, powerful summaries, key stakeholders, opportunities, problems, suggestions, insights, and next steps.
Time to meet your robot twin
As you read this article, AI technology is writing its own code, running split tests, discarding the less desirable alternative, and improving processes. Amazon had to pull the plug on two AI computers that created their own mysterious language and were talking with each other! It’s already equipped to recognize patterns, words, phrases, and next steps that more often than not predict a successful outcome.
But things will go to a new level, and salespeople will actually understand how to use these prompts properly. We’ll see a progression in AI customization. Beyond voice recognition, our bots will start to speak like us. Amazon Duplex is already calling humans and having conversations where the person in the conversation is totally convinced it’s a real human on the line talking with them. Your AI avatar that chats to customers, sets your meetings, and provides you the data to be successful will look, sound, and interact exactly like you… is not as far away as you imagine.
Are you ready to meet your bot-like twin?