Objective -- create better, more profitable relationships between buyers and sellers.
Through this blog, Thoughts On Selling, Lee Levitt explores strategic issues in sales effectiveness, productivity, sales operations, sales enablement, and sales strategy. Lee leverages his significant experience in sales, sales management, sales enablement and operations and channel development, along with substantial sales productivity research and consulting as an analyst at IDC.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Will AI Replace Sales People?
With the surging popularity of AI as a method for leveraging
vast amounts of data and providing recommendations, it’s only a matter of time
before the sales function in most organizations is completely automated
And of course, who needs buyers, with their imperfect
knowledge and flawed processes? It’s only a matter of time before the buying
function is automated.
And as long as we’re improving corporate functions, why does
the CFO have to come to work in her autonomous vehicle? Sure, she’s getting a
lot of work done on the way, reading email, catching up on the latest issues in
The CFO Daily News. But why don’t we
automate the CFO process too. Wouldn’t that be more efficient? Our AI CFO, with
instant access to all internal company and external market information, will be
able to make far better decisions than its predecessor.
So what’s left for us meatheads? Customer Support? Nope.
Marketing? Already covered? Manufacturing? Robots are doing it. Delivery?
Drones are in the air.
Here’s the thing…computers and machines have taken on some
of these functions, typically where repetitive tasks (both physical and
computational) can be (should be?) automated. AI, or more precisely expert
systems, can give us better (higher confidence) recommendations on what to do
in a given situation.
None of this is new. AI technologies have been around for a
long time. For example, I prototyped an expert system to diagnose manufacturing
problems for Mead Paper in the mid 1980s. Since then, these technologies have
been implemented mostly as helper or advisor tools.
Either you believe that computers (and robots) are going to
take over the world, allowing humans to focus on leisure, or you reject that
dystopian view, believing that we will continue to employ technology as
enablers and boosters rather than replacers.
And buyers need sales people. Good sales people. Corporate
buyers find significant value in those sales people who play the role of
Companies that equip and position their sales people to play
this role receive multiple benefits – higher average deal size, higher deal
profitability, better customer retention, more repeat business, lower sales
turnover, higher lifetime customer value and more.
So…what are you going to do? Replace your sales people with
software? Or enable your sales people to do the job your prospects and