By 2030 up to a third of non-retail sales jobs may disappear into the ether with AI algorithms partnering with cyborg entities to replace human jobs.
Is that statement true? Not in its entirety, but there is a harsh underbelly to what it stands for. The confronting truth is that corporations view us (salespeople) as a simple cog in a giant machine of profit making. Sellers are viewed as units of revenue production, and if that cog can be automated, outsourced, optimized, or eliminated, then it will be to reduce costs.
AI in sales is already here and the top-tier companies are reengineering their processes to take advantage of next generation automation. Watson (IBM), Einstein (Salesforce), Larry (Complexica) and Amy (x.ai) are our sidekicks. The key is to channel Iron Man – part man, part machine. Embrace the salesbots for hyper-productivity and effectiveness or be replaced.
What can I do as a rep? Isn’t it beyond my control?
You have more power than you think. But the first step is acceptance. Accept that this is happening and visualise a time where salesbots and humans collaborate to open, progress and close more deals together. The sellers of the future will write prolifically, speak publicly, have sensational EQ, IQ and TQ, leverage all the available tools and channels. There’s no replacing charisma, creativity, genuine empathy, and political and financial acumen when it comes to building trust and a business case with a new customer.
Humans who embrace working with bots and leverage advanced technology will unlock the secret to driving sales pipeline and profitable revenue. Choose to be one of the few people who will be master of the machines, orchestrating a multiplier effect on the modern sales process.
Here are three types of salesbot you need to be successful as a modern seller:
Salesbot #1 – The Admin Assistant
Scheduling meetings, recording interactions and forecasting results. These tasks were once a burden on the efficiency and output of a salesperson but AI-powered bots have changed the game, especially as CRM’s become a system of sales process execution integrated with productivity tools.
Duplex from Google can call to schedule and confirm meetings, then schedule in calendars. Troops.ai synchronizes with Salesforce, automates pipeline, and generates sales reports. X.ai responds to contacts and schedules meetings on your behalf. Watson from IBM provides natural language dialogue to answer questions as an AI trusted adviser – going beyond pure logic to cope easily with the nuances, vagaries, and contradictions of the English language.
Put simply, if you believe your primary role is about answering questions, providing information, or scheduling meetings, then your future is in jeopardy. Automate these things and elevate your position to strategic partner and advisor.
Salesbot #2 – The Opportunity Identifier
Imagine if you could automagically crunch data and prioritize the leads that have the highest propensity to close? Bots are already doing this.
Larry, from Complexica, is an opportunity identifier for transactional sales. Say you’re a sales rep in the wine industry. You have hundreds of licensed premises in your territory, and knowing who is best to call and what to talk about, beyond your (yawn) specials this month, is a difficult thing to figure out. In Australia, the average restaurant or licensed premise has 50 different salespeople calling on them every month.
With Larry, you are the one and only salesperson the owner looks forward to meeting because you provide amazing insights and advice on how they can grow their business and improve profit. I kid you not; Larry can pull every menu on the Internet from your client’s competitors, analyze the meals on the menus and their pricing and identify the fact that restaurants in the same category within a 10-minute drive have food prices averaging 12 percent more than your client. Your insight (the reason to meet) is that your customer could increase prices by 8 percent tomorrow without becoming uncompetitive.
Larry, the AI analyst, answers big questions for sellers, and his recommendations drive previously unimaginable sales effectiveness for salespeople. There are other companies working hard in the opportunity identification arena by building platforms that monitor for trigger events and start to drive outreach to turn ‘manual outbound’ into ‘automated inbound’.
Salesbot #3 – The Deal Coach
Want a sales coach who provides predictive lead and deal scores along with opportunity insights, including prompts for the best next steps and methods of outreach? Welcome Einstein from Salesforce – your virtual deal opportunity coach.
Einstein has the ability to monitor critical win factors, such as; the status of key information obtained, whether the right people have been covered, whether the amount of time in a particular deal stage is damaging the probability of a win, and an array of other elements that determine if a deal is on track or at risk.
Unlike a human sales manager, Einstein is always transparently monitoring and providing feedback on which deals need attention and where to prioritize precious sales time. For management, Einstein can deliver the Holy Grail of forecasting accuracy. I’ve seen it and it’s staggeringly accurate.
To avoid losing your job in the coming years, you must make insight and value the reason that customers engage with you and build trusted relationships. Embrace the very technologies you fear in order to harness their power and achieve new levels of capability, reach, efficiency, and effectiveness.