Artificial Intelligence and the Salesperson of the Future

 In Artificial Intelligence
Image source: https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-future-of-artificial-intelligence/

Artificial Intelligence is coming to sales on a significant scale. Rather than spending hours watching and researching companies, while looking for good opportunities to help out, salespeople can now rely on AI systems to do that grunt work for them.

In almost every conversation I’ve had about AI in sales, that leads to the question of “does AI mean the end of salespeople”. It’s a question that’s worth addressing both because it’s so common and because it’s so absurd. AI is great at sophisticated pattern recognition, and crunching through volumes of data. However, AI does not build trust, develop relationships, have conversations, change minds, or share a vision.

Far from replacing salespeople, AI in sales will allow salespeople the time to become the sales professionals they have always hoped to become. Let’s look at the salesperson of the future. They will need to:

Build Trust – having people trust you is an art. AI systems can point out opportunities to interact, offer assistance, or help, but it’s up to the salesperson to turn that into trust.

Get People Talking – the art of conversation will still be a huge asset for salespeople in the future. The right combination of active listening, thoughtful questioning, and empathy can get the buyer to reveal crucial insights into their business pain points, and where you may be able to help.

Take Notes – every conversation has hints of interests, pain points, and goals that need to be carefully noted. If an AI system knows more what to look for, it’s even easier to highlight great opportunities to assist and build trust.

Be Interesting – buying groups and their influencers are becoming broader and deeper within an organization. This means many conversations with many different people, each of whom will have different interests. Being well-read, well-travelled, up to speed on current events, and with a broad set of interests will be a great asset in carrying the conversation with an ever-broadening set of people to talk to.

Be Curious – every sales process will reveal new opportunities to help that you might not have considered before.   Artificial intelligence is much better at detecting known patterns than coming up with entirely new patterns. Great salespeople are curious and creative and can find new opportunities that AI systems can then be on the lookout for.

Embrace Technology – with any new wave of technology, there are those who embrace it and those who shun it. In the case of AI, having an intelligent system to continuous research and monitoring on your accounts, and brief you on who to reach out to and what to say is an advantage that is worth having. Salespeople who embrace the technology will be much better positioned than those who do not.

The coming wave of AI in sales will not replace salespeople. Far from it. It will make good salespeople great, and it will eliminate frustrating and repetitive work that many salespeople dislike. Being aware of what is likely to change and what skills are going to be in high demand is the best strategy to be at the top of your game in sales in the coming decade.

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Experienced SaaS CTO. Founded and guided the building of Eloqua to a market leading position in Marketing Automation. Now Co-founder and CTO at Nudge. Author of the book “Digital Body Language" with a passion for innovation, cloud computing and software evolution.
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