The power and sophistication of modern technology forges forward at an ever-increasing rate. Many jobs have been made obsolete by machines and AI. Will sales be the same?
Automation’s Already Here
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, around half of a salesperson’s job has the potential to be automated. This is thanks to AI technologies that will seek to take some of the burden off a salesperson’s shoulders.
The tasks that can already be automated include certain aspects of the buyer’s journey that don’t require as much of a personal touch. This is stuff like data collection, asking qualifying questions and setting up sales calls and meetings.
That’s to say, it’s the jobs that don’t require as much creativity or independent thought (read: the boring stuff no one wants to do anyway).
Time is Money
The key thing that automation gives you is time. If you’re spending less time on all those boring tasks that require your hands and not your brain, you can spend more on the stuff that will bring you more customers. It’s ultimately about optimisation, rather than stealing away your job (and your money).
Artificial Intelligence: A Brain Without a Heart?
The primary argument from the nay-sayers of AI’s ability to automate jobs is their lack of humanity. A machine, they say, could never build the kinds of relationship with a prospect that a human could. A robot couldn’t attend a conference or take their client out for dinner. There’s no way they can have that personal touch that a human can. They just don’t have that top salesperson anatomy.
This is, put simply, a bit of an arrogant take. Artificial Intelligence is getting better by the minute, and can do things today that we couldn’t have predicted even 10 years ago. Machine learning algorithms are already able to predict and recommend the best opening message a person should send on LinkedIn. Who’s to say they won’t soon use someone’s online data to predict entire optimal conversations?
It’s true that an AI doesn’t have intuition. It can’t go with its gut. But, as technology improves, automated processes will make their way further and further down the sales funnel using the power of data and statistics. Whether this will be better or more efficient than a person’s instinct is yet to be seen.
People Want People… Right?
The other argument levied against the potential of AI and automation is that any given person must prefer to deal with a real, flesh and blood human as opposed to a faceless, heartless machine. Clearly, these people haven’t met many members of the Millennial or Gen Z generations.
It’s a known phenomenon among younger generations that they will typically far prefer to interact with an app or a chat bot than undergo the anxiety of speaking with a real person on the phone or, horror of horrors, a video call. Of course, this doesn’t go for all professions – no one wants a robot therapist – but if your average Gen Z member is considering a product, they’ll take information from an AI over a conversation with a real person any day.
Technology will only continue to improve. In the future, there will be very few jobs that aren’t entirely automated, and it’s unlikely that sales will be counted among them.
Still, while it’s a high likelihood in the future, for now salespeople’s jobs aren’t at risk. At least for a while, the only things that will be automated are the things you don’t want to do anyway.
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