AI is influencing every aspect of our daily lives. It’s in our appliances, learning our preferred temperatures. Email is also getting a dose of AI with one-click response options and suggested wording to complete sentences. And of course, AI is making the very important recommendations for new films or TV shows to binge watch. It’s constantly learning and recommending to make our lives a little bit better and easier.
AI is transforming how we approach our work and careers, too. For sales, it’s removing the grunt work of manually entering CRM data while also providing intelligent services such as recommendations on lead scoring and forecasting. This doesn’t mean AI is taking over sales jobs and our roles — it’s quite the opposite. AI will actually increase head count for sales teams. (Yes, you read that right!) According to Gartner, by 2020, AI will become a net job motivator, creating 2.3 million jobs (in total), while only eliminating 1.8 million jobs. Sales is definitely a part of those new jobs being created.
Why would AI add sales jobs and not take them away? It may seem too good to be true at first glance, but think about it this way: Better performance and better selling increase growth, requiring larger teams to accommodate the growth. That’s an AI algorithm for sales we all really want.
Get rid of the fear factor.
First and foremost, you must get over your fears and understand how AI can empower you and your sales process. According to Salesforce’s Future of Sales, futurist Peter Schwartz has shared it wasn’t that long ago when salespeople were hesitant to use email to connect with their customers, and now it’s common. “I’d be more worried about being replaced by another salesperson who is empowered by intelligence than by a machine,” Schwartz said.
Don’t waste time. Go ahead and make AI your admin. Turn over the tasks of putting emails and communications into the CRM system, along with activity logging, identifying high-priority emails, and more. Like Schwartz, I’m more afraid of a sales rep still doing manual tasks in today’s market instead of handing them over to AI.
Sharpen business skills and industry expertise.
As AI becomes more and more prevalent, the sales reps who will truly excel are the consultative sellers. Reps will need to know their customers’ businesses inside and out. Luckily AI can draw upon data to help with insights. Quite frankly, it will soon be up to the sales rep to have their own “business degree” in a customer’s industry and organization. It’s that important to level up your knowledge in a competitive market with others who are just as armed with AI capabilities as you are.
In today’s world the buyer can get most of the information they need from your website, social media, references, online documentation, and more. So what value does the rep offer? You need to know their business inside and out to add that value. Ask yourself the following questions: What business challenge is your customer’s company trying to solve, and what is the return on investment that they will get for their investment in your product and service?
So sharpen your pencil and dig into their industry, business, and current market. And AI can even help you do that by serving up the relevant content to get you up to speed. Go heavy on discovery and understanding the customer’s business. It’s also about relationship building — and that’s not just playing golf. Initiate two-way communications on what’s happening in their industry, the impact of disruptive forces, and how you can help them beyond just the sale.
Your customers want something AI can’t provide.
Finally, customers truly do want trusted advisors focused on them exclusively. An algorithm can’t make that happen. The smart, attentive, consultative sales rep is the one who delivers the ultimate customer experience. That rep delivers all of the right personalization and communication at the right time — but only if they’re using AI to their advantage in building these trusted relationships.