There’s a lot of discussion, most of it pretty misguided, about the potential impact of automation and AI on sales and buying. Most of the discussions are about customers preferring to buy through electronic channels and moving away from the need for sales people.
There will be huge movements to that mode of buying with certain types of buying. Personally, for example, if I can get something through Amazon or other web store, I prefer that. Less out of avoidance of sales people, more out of convenience.
But too much of the discussion of the future of selling–particularly complex B2B sales focuses on reducing the interactions with the buyer.
In truth, I think the promise of effectively implemented automation and AI will increase both the volume and quality of the interactions we have with customers. And it is these high impact/quality conversations that will have the greatest impact on our abilities to create value with our customers.
Automation, on both the buying and selling side will free up time to focus on rich, deep, high impact conversations with our customers. AI has the promise of helping make sure we are having the right conversations with the right people at the right time.
So much of the discussion focuses on creating less interaction, which, I think, does our customers a huge disservice. Customers aren’t looking for less interaction, they are looking to solve their problems, they are looking for meaningful, high impact engagement. The degree to which sales people can’t or won’t provide these high impact interactions, we force customers to other alternatives and less interaction.
Our customers are dealing with very complex issues. Their businesses are being disrupted and transformed, they are time poor, they are resource poor, they are concerned about risk–personally and business wise. They are plagued by uncertainty, they struggle with ambiguity.
They want to know they are not alone–both in the problems and challenges they face and in their journey to address those problems.
Above anything, they want to connect with people that understand and empathize with them and who can help them.
They aren’t looking for less interaction, they are looking for high impact, high quality interaction and engagement.
Being human means we are wired to interact with other humans. We want to engage and be engaged. But we want that engagement to be relevant and meaningful.
Too often, much of what we do in marketing and sales seems to be going in the opposite direction of what our customers need.
“Humans are capricious, erratic, emotional, irrational, and biased in what sometimes seem like counterproductive ways. It often seems that our quick-thinking and selfish nature will be our downfall. There are, it would seem, lots of reasons why getting humans out of the equation in many aspects of life might be a good thing.
But I’d argue that while our various irrational tendencies might seem like liabilities, many of those attributes actually work in our favor. Many of our emotional responses have evolved over millennia, and they are based on the probability that they will, more likely than not, offer the best way to deal with a situation.” David Byrne, Eliminating The Human