Updated: May 4, 2022
In today’s “new normal”, automated and remote sales are often the only way to close business and create revenue. The tendency to cut even the human out of this process is now even more tempting. Now that “pressing the flesh” is out of the question, is the “human touch” even necessary?
The question that may arise is if humans are getting in the way of sales, with their inefficiencies and failings. Wrestling with the machines, any marketing strategy that can discover and implement solutions quickly, has become even more relevant. As SaaS and other cloud services continue to command the attention of corporations and startups alike, a thin layer of panic has begun to manifest in sales management. Deep rooted concerns about whether or not artificial intelligence (AI) will be commonplace enough to replace humans as a sales staff.
And, sure, most people are comfortable navigating their life via online channels (shopping, socializing) making it easy to understand how it can appear that such an outcome may not be avoided. Bots or robotic process automation (RPA) like Kryon Systems, for example, is software that can be created using algorithms to automate repetitive uses of applications (you name it, really) and then act on your behalf.
For example, Elon Musk, a multi-billionaire in the technology industry, has stated on more than one occasion that he feels AI (robots) will one day do everything better than humans. "Everything?" It's a pretty blanketed statement. It’s true, an acceptance of automation (on some level) in marketing is inevitable. But, then again, so is the pushback. Security measures and firewalls against bots are regularly used for verification processes for online banking or purchasing vendors. One could argue though that much like a camera lens in your laptop or smartphone, both of which became automatic features in the last 15 years (give or take), the masses will ultimately become accustomed to automation over time as products and services present themselves slowly into daily activities.
Could A Good Salesperson Ever Be Automated?
The appeal is evident. Automated technology essentially allows a business to actualize automated processes. These processes would configure data, send communications, and leverage machine learning all while adapting itself without command based on collected feedback. This kind of continuous delivery (CD) brings with it not only the possibility of adaptable software, but one that is remarkably fine tuned with access to changing data such as shifts in market trends. This automation can even suggest changes to business strategies, streamlining the build, testing, and release of process software.
Suspicions continue among the masses, so much so that legislations are being crafted and brought to governments in search of protection against the day that Elon Musk fears most; when robots take over jobs. Some suspect this change can happen as soon as ten years from now, with jobs in the service industry likely to be replaced first, but that it wouldn’t stop there. Asking for reparations from the government to subsidize income is just the tip of the social iceberg in regards to the social blowback that awaits should this day actually transpire.
It’s a quick, efficient and adaptable solution. The robot is making decisions based on numbers and inputted data, but lacks empathy (or feelings) entirely. Sales is so much more than repetitive tasks, after all. Sales also requires raw data. Technically speaking, a human salesperson plays a powerful role in automation. The feedback that a live salesperson can provide is irreplaceable. Reading a prospects body language and/or knowing personal details about the prospect’s life in combination with a needs analysis provides intel that a computer couldn’t calculate.
Could Robots Ever Relate To Human Nature?
Recognize that high level sales requires elevated skill sets. Skills that were likely honed from years of trial and error and a level of psychology partnered with plain common sense. Similarly, don’t underestimate the complexities involved in the creation of a human hand from scratch. Whether you want to agree that robots can be intelligent is one thing; a robot, analytical at heart, cannot be taught common sense or to feel. A mutual understanding is the foundation to discovering a bridge between the gaps of both the AI and human elements of selling for the sake of increasing the bottom line.
Robots, after all, were designed in an attempt to emulate human abilities, both physically and mentally. In conjunction with processed data and the desire to take a risk, a prospects decision to purchase is emotionally driven. Relating to those emotions is a human trait, no robotic.
“Some people call this artificial intelligence, but the reality is this technology will enhance us. So instead of artificial intelligence, I think we'll augment our intelligence.”
- Ginni Rometty -