The robots are coming, the robots are coming. And with that, the new movie version of “Death of A Salesman or Saleswoman.”
Not so fast. AI is here to stay and, in many ways, will help salespeople spend time on what they really like to do: sell rather than figure out who to sell to, when to approach and what to sell.
For example, Victor Antonio, co-author of “Sales Ex Machina: How Artificial Intelligence is Changing the World of Selling,” shares that AI will help your team sell more to existing clients because it can help you identify which of them are more likely to buy a better version of what they own.
That is GREAT news.
Here is where the people part of the sales process comes in. You still need a good salesperson that can run a mutually beneficial sales conversation with that identified customer. The key words are mutually beneficial sales conversation. If a salesperson can’t add value, then they should be replaced by a robot.
A valuable sales conversation is a combination of Sales EQ and Sales IQ skills. A value-add salesperson will:
- Set an appointment with the AI-identified client and that appointment will have a defined purpose and objective to discuss this line of business. No calling out of the blue and saying, “Hey, how are you? Just calling to talk to you about … ”
- Apply delayed-gratification skills and put in the time to craft a customized, compelling value proposition designed to expose pain that the new product or service can solve SPECIFICALLY for this customer. No generic, one-size-fits-all value proposition that could have been delivered in a canned, “robotic” sales conversation.
- Use their problem-solving skills to design provocative questions that create a thoughtful conversation around the pros and cons of purchasing. No feature/benefit product dumping that could easily be delivered by an video.
- Demonstrate empathy when hearing hesitancy to change. Instead of overcoming the objections, a good salesperson will say something like, “I get the sense that you like the product/service. However, you might have some worries about … am I correct?” (AI is working on developing soft skills. However, research shows it hasn’t fully accomplished the task.)
- Use their assertiveness skills and ask for the business or set a meeting with other decision makers involved in this purchase. No writing proposals that are missing key criterion from other key players.
AI also makes it easier for sales managers to analyze their sales teams’ pipelines. It helps sales managers identify patterns about when and where deals are stalling or falling out.
That is GREAT news.
But the sales manager still needs to have the Sales EQ and IQ skills to hold a coaching conversation. They will need to tap into their soft skills, ones that will help them give feedback in a manner that doesn’t produce defensiveness. They will need the hard skills, the coaching skills, to set up effective role plays to help the salesperson improve on specific selling skills that eliminate stalled deals or fallout.
AI is here to stay and in the right sales model, so are valuable salespeople and sales managers. However, it’s very clear: If you can’t add value to a sales or coaching conversation, then the company probably needs to start looking for a robot.