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Sales AI will soon replace you, unless you follow these two rules

Selling Skills Chris Orlob April 23, 2019

Sales AI will replace some salespeople. No doubt about it.

Want proof?

I bet you’d HATE talking to a salesperson to buy a book on Amazon.

You’d rather buy with “one-click” and be done!

An Amazon book rep would introduce friction to an otherwise seamless buying process.

It’s a simple buying decision and people want to get through it. Without another person.

The writing is on the wall for sales jobs like that.

So what’s the difference between those sales jobs and YOURS?

Simple.

You do more than communicate value.

You create value.

(You may want to read that again).

You go beyond value communication and step into value creation when you:

  • Help buyers think through unfamiliar problems in a new way
  • Offer buyers a unique point of view about key threats and opportunities
  • Lead buyers through a decision-making process they’re never done before
  • Answer non-standard, nuanced questions

Your buyers cannot do these things without you.

These buyers value your creativity and insight more than your product knowledge.

So…

How do you know your job will survive sales AI?

By answering these questions:

Do you go beyond communicating value? Do you create value?

The purpose of selling before the information age was to communicate value.

But now that buyers have access to all the information they need, you have to go beyond that.

You have to create value during the buying process to justify your existence.

But there’s an important caveat.

YOU don’t get to define “value.” Your buyers do.

Your buyer has to WANT you to create value for them.

You can’t create value for someone who doesn’t want it. That’s not value creation. That’s being overbearing.

If buyers don’t want your guidance, point of view, or help, there’s not much you can do to change that. Except find a new job.

You can’t force buyers who have decided to buy transactionally to demand added value.

Executives sometimes try to “upgrade” their sales organization from transactional to consultative.

But if your buyer doesn’t want you to do that, you’re not creating value. You’re destroying value.

Now.

If you ARE in a sales career where buyers demand value creation from you, how am I so sure AI won’t replace you?

There are two reasons…

First: Today, HOW you sell > WHAT you sell

Let me explain.

Product differentiation is dead.

Every category is exploding with competition to the point where product differences blur.

Here’s my favorite example: Marketing software.

In 2011, there were 150 marketing software vendors. Today? Over 7,000:

Differentiate with what you say, do, and write during the sales process

A “differentiated product” won’t cut through that clutter.

Your space is becoming more competitive, too.

When markets get more competitive, buyers stop choosing the strongest product. The differences are too minimal.

Value migrates from the product to the buying experience.

If buyers see you as at parity with your competitors’, then how you sell outweighs what you sell.

And you, the salesperson are responsible for delivering that buying experience. YOU are the differentiator.

But what’s stopping a robot from doing that?

That leads us to the second reason AI won’t replace you…

Second: Complex conversations create value

And you can’t automate complex conversations.

Robots can have simple conversations. Conversations that involve winnowing down a finite list of options like a flowchart.

Google proved that last year with the Google Assistant demo:

But the only reason the Google Assistant could do this is there’s a finite number of paths that conversation could take.

The demo is impressive, to be sure. But it’s limited in the scenarios it can address. It’s like a decision tree. A bunch of conditional if/then statements.

Close-ended questions. Finite responses. AI can cover that.

But if you ask your buyer something complex, such as:

“What’s your biggest strategic challenge going into 2020?”

…You open yourself up to infinity.

You can’t automate conversations that complex.

Conversing about a topic like that demands that you have a trait called sapience.

Sapience is a combination of things.

It’s wisdom.

It’s discernment.

Empathy.

Insight.

Lateral thinking.

Sapience is a uniquely human trait.

If your sales job demands sapience of you, consider yourself safe from AI.

In fact, Sales AI will be your best friend

AI won’t be able to have a conversation for you.

But it will help you understand what’s working and what’s not in your own conversations.

It’ll give you insights you can use to close more deals, faster.

Here’s how to take advantage of that

We analyzed millions of recorded sales calls with AI to figure out what works in sales, according to data.

We’ve summarized the key tactics in this FREE cheat sheet.

Get your free copy here and improve your sales calls:

I’ll also send you three ‘inner circle’ sales call tips via email.

And then you can go have a celebratory beer. Because…

Robots will never replace salespeople who create value!
Chris Orlob

Chris Orlob is Senior Director of Product Marketing at Gong.io

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