Artificial intelligence is changing the world. It's impacting almost all aspects of modern life and business. When it comes to sales, we've already seen AI replace basic jobs in retail and fast food. But by 2020, a million B2B salespeople will lose their jobs
, according to Forrester.
AI won't make all salespeople's jobs irrelevant, though - just the not-so-great salespeople. If your reps are still cold-calling or if their days are filled with busywork, AI will soon eliminate their jobs.
Buying Behaviour Has Changed
The internet has changed the way people buy. Outbound sales techniques just don't cut it anymore. Your customers - not your sales reps - are now the ones in charge of the sales process.
Today's consumers value their independence. They research different options online and compare features and prices on their own instead of looking to a sales rep for answers. Sites like Amazon and Netflix use AI to make spot-on recommendations for what we should buy or watch next. E-commerce has ultimately taken away the need for salespeople to explain things.
At SalesHub, we help other businesses adapt to the new way people buy. We generate content that helps our clients' prospects make informed purchasing decisions. Never pushing for a sale, our content addresses prospects' pain points, educates them and guides them in their research process.
AI Replaces Busywork
Lower-level salespeople spend the majority of their time (80%, according to CRM magazine) prospecting and qualifying leads, scheduling meetings, sending follow-up emails and building reports. AI, however, automates these mundane tasks. It eliminates sales jobs that don't contribute to your company's revenue.
Forty-one percent of Canadian companies have already implemented (or are starting to adopt) cognitive and AI technologies, according to Deloitte. For these companies, AI shifts the focus to how well sales reps close deals, not send emails.
If your sales reps are only doing busywork, they're providing no value to your company. After all, no one's ever earned a promotion for sending great follow-up emails.
The Rise Of Chatbots
Chatbots displace sales reps whose main task is information gathering. Your salespeople can only gather so much information when talking to leads, as they need to focus on the conversation. But since chatbots integrate with social media, they can gather much more data about every person they interact with. Plus, AI makes far fewer mistakes than humans do, guaranteeing that the data gathered is error-free.
Unlike sales reps who are only available during business hours, chatbots can help your customers 24/7. And 47% of people are open to buying items through a chatbot, according to a HubSpot survey.
When anyone visits our website, a chatbot (named Josh) will pop up and ask them if they need help with anything. My team then collects the questions people ask to better understand their pain points, overcome their objections and improve our upselling.
Death Of A (AI-Less) Salesman
AI will eliminate millions of sales jobs, but it will also create new ones. Humans play a critical role in the optimization of AI. For example, by 2019, 30% of the world's leading companies will employ a chief robotics officer. To survive the AI revolution, salespeople need to fully understand new technology and use it to their advantage.
AI will benefit the best salespeople, as it actually helps them focus on the core components of their job. By freeing salespeople from mundane tasks, AI will allow them to spend more time building relationships and solving client problems with creative solutions.
The Human Touch
The truth is, salespeople are never going to disappear. Selling is an inherently human act. To be successful, sales reps need to truly care about helping customers. You can't teach a person, let alone AI, to be interesting or thoughtful. Your prospects are people, and people crave real personal connection. There's an emotional component to sales that simply can't be replaced by robots.
The human touch is what will allow salespeople to keep their jobs. Top salespeople are skilled at using their judgment, forming real connections with prospects and managing complex relationships with customers.
When sales reps know how to use AI to their advantage, they can be better at their jobs - and at being human.