• October 20, 2015

No Matter What Those Guys in Silicon Valley Tell You, Don’t Worry, Robots Won’t Steal Your Sales Job

All of the technology vendors in Silicon Valley seem to be focused on  “predictive intelligence” these days. Tech luminaries like Bill Gates and Elon Musk are so convinced that this is going to be our future that they’re warning that these technologies might create an “existential threat” to human life.

I for one am not too worried. Most of these technologies (with the exception of Spiro) aren’t even smart enough to schedule a meeting, let alone steal your sales job. You should be thinking of these technologies more as helpers than harbingers of doom.

I can calm your nerves with a story about Amy. No, Amy is not a person, Amy is a robot. She’s an automated calendaring tool created by x.ai. I find scheduling meetings to be a royal pain in the ass, so the idea of having a robot assistant do it for me was compelling. I gave it a shot for a week before giving her the boot.

It wasn’t that Amy didn’t try her best to do her job, it’s that I didn’t give her the right environment she could thrive in. The way Amy works is by copying people on email requests and automatically looking through your online calendar to work out a meeting time that works for you both. She then sends an email with a proposed date and time to the person you’d like to meet with and, voila. …But no.

My calendar wasn’t Amy-friendly and it drove her nuts. She rescheduled a meeting between a client and I so many times that we just picked up the phone and figured it out ourselves. My calendar wasn’t an Amy-friendly environment and changing everything around for her was, in my opinion, more effort than it was worth.

My point is that AI or predictive analytics is not something that will diminish sales jobs over time. Think of these applications and systems as helpful little elves right now than as maniacal all-seeing, all-knowing, all-doing cyborgs.

SalesforceIQ is a good example of an application that’s helping sales guys out, but not making the human-factor obsolete. It’s basically a CRM that gives you enhanced data. YOU, the sales guy, are what breathes life into the machine and brings the bucks in.

While programmers are already finding new ways to make robots more human-like by giving them natural speech patterns (Um, So, Like…etc), they cannot build rapport like a person-to-person interaction can. They cannot understand the small nuances that can make or break a deal.

If you’re really shaking in your boots about being replaced by a robot, then start acting more human! Here are some ways to give your prospects the human touch:

  1. Ask Questions: Your client doesn’t expect you to know everything. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, take risks or make mistakes.
  2. Court Your Clients: You need to woo your clients to make them feel special. Research their business and interests and email them an article that you think would help them.
  3. Really Listen to the Customer: Fully listen to what your customer is saying. Don’t cut them off or start formulating a response while they’re still speaking.
  4. Share Personal Stories: Building a relationship with your client is a two way street. In order to make them feel like you have a connection, reveal something about yourself.

There’s a lot of industry buzz about automation, AI, and predictive analytics these days, but remember, these are all just tools to help us do our jobs better, not replace us. The many programs out there that try to mimic human interaction miss the mark, and the few that come close still lack the inexplicable qualities necessary to build a real relationship with a client.

Photo courtesy of www.wallpapermania.eu