The Future of Sales Is Not AI, It’s You

There’s little question that AI and machine learning will alter the future of B2B sales, but you will play a prominent role as well. In this post, we explain why.

January 23, 2017

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We’re seeing plenty of doom and gloom about the future of work, specifically sales. Forrester forecasts that in the US alone, 1 million B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service eCommerce by 2020. That’s 20% of the B2B sales force. Gone. Three years from now.

There’s little question that technology such as AI and machine learning will continue to change our profession, especially for simple transactional sales. But, make no mistake, YOU will play a prominent role in the future of sales as well. Here are three reasons why:

1. If You Deliver Value, You’re Safe

This new technology replaces the worst part of sales for the buyer and seller. Setting up meetings and gathering data for sales. Wasting time with people who do not know your business for buyers.

This is great news. If you deliver value, not only is your job safe, it’s going to get better.

2. Relationships Still Drive Business

Most B2B deals reach a threshold where they involve a buying committee. Research from CEB shows that the average B2B purchase decision involves nearly seven decision makers.

Strong relationships with influencers at a company, especially those connected with the company’s buyers, can have a big impact on a sales rep’s effectiveness. A recent LinkedIn survey showed that sales rep likeability was a major differentiator when it came to influencing B2B buyers in the US, UK, and Australia.

You can’t replicate these relationships with machine learning and AI.  

3. Not All Data Will Be Available to the Robots

If selling B2B solutions were as simple as processing data from a single source and spitting out the optimal decision, we’d all be toast. Luckily it’s not. Data that informs B2B decisions comes from all sorts of disparate sources – much of it from those old school computers in your prospects’ heads.  

It’s up to humans to connect the dots, read the room, and make sense of the intangibles that make each deal unique. No matter how flawless the technology, it’s hard to imagine B2B buyers giving up all their information to robots programmed to make high-margin sales for their “employers.”

The future of sales is not AI. It only includes AI. The future of sales is an augmented salesperson who uses all this technology to build stronger relationships and become more intelligent about a prospect's business.

The future of sales is an informed sales pro, you, who has never been more equipped to help prospects do the right thing at the right time.

Future-proof yourself with expert advice that will help you today, tomorrow, and beyond 2020. Check Out 33 Social Selling Tips by Leading Social Selling Thought Leaders.