In 1966, Time Magazine said, “Remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop.”
Thought leaders in Sales love to put out content surrounding the future of sales like they’re Nostradamus. The hottest topic? Artificial intelligence in sales, and the potential impending doomsday for Sales Development Reps (SDRs).
Every time a new tool like Google Duplex is announced, the sales world turns into a frenzied mess. There is no denying that artificial intelligence tools are becoming ever-present in the sales process, but we’re a long way off from replacing human reps.
In fact, emerging technologies like conversation intelligence software are being seen as powerful tools to improve rep performance–which means big things for the future of artificial intelligence and sales.
Where the Experts Get It Wrong
Collectively, humans are trying to automate as many processes as possible, eliminating the need for people to perform tasks like driving, making appointments, taking food orders, etc.
While there have been major advances in artificial intelligence in business over the past few decades, we have yet to completely replace humans in a major capacity. So why does anyone believe that AI sales tools will eliminate salespeople? They shouldn’t.
“You can’t automate the human out of sales.”
Our CRO, Steve Richard, said this during a recent panel discussion about the future of sales.It drives home an important point: the sales process is inherently human, and people will continue to buy from people they like.
While we’re closer than ever to machines being able to pass the Turing Test, artificial intelligence tools have not mastered being human. Computers cannot replicate natural human language and they’re not quite ready to react to all of the various things that could be said on a sales call.
Rather than wasting time worrying about AI replacing salespeople, our industry needs to focus on how to optimize our teams by leveraging artificial intelligence tools.
Empowering Your Team with AI Sales Tools
At some point in every salesperson’s career, they pull a 12+ hour day and it’s simply because there is too much to do and only a limited number of hours in the day. AI can help optimize your day by reducing time spent doing tasks like data entry, prospecting, and even lead qualification. Your reps can then spend more time focusing on selling and driving revenue.
The best way to empower your team with an AI tool is by looking at what tasks can easily be automated plus which tasks eat most of your rep’s time before evaluating any tools. If AI can automate all or at least some of the steps of those tasks, it’s going to deliver high ROI.
The Current AI Tool Landscape
There are artificial intelligence tools for just about every business function you can dream of: conversation analytics, data collection, scheduling meetings, email outreach, personality insights…you get the idea.
The point is that regardless of your workflow, AI tools can provide assistance somewhere in it. Plus, as more tools and services integrate machine learning into their products, the capabilities of artificial intelligence in business will only get better.
Where Artificial Intelligence Falls Short
There are a number of AI sales tools in the revenue stack that are trying to remove people from human-centric processes such as call coaching. Removing the coaches from sales coaching is a recipe for disaster.
Artificial intelligence tools can learn to highlight different parts of a call and flag coachable moments. What AI can’t do is drive human behavior change. People are not naturally perceptive to feedback so it’s hard for human coaches to even get through to reps. A computer is not capable of leading a rep to self-discover what they can do better and it’s also not able to tailor feedback based on a reps mood, personality, or conversation style. There are just too many variables to make AI sales coaches viable.
The hype around machine learning and artificial intelligence in business is real because these technologies are changing the sales world. It’s important to recognize that these tools empower reps, but they won’t replace them anytime soon, for the sales process is far too human.
Max Altschuler at SalesHacker made an excellent point about sales tech which can be directly applied to artificial intelligence tools:
“Bill Gates once said ‘The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.’ Essentially, tech is just a magnifying glass. You have a great training process and add a layer of tech to make it more efficient or scientific, great. You have a shitty one, and depend on tech to make it work, you’ll find yourself out of a job. It’s support, not replacement.”
What AI sales tools does your team use? What predictions do you have about the future of artificial intelligence in business? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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