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Could AI Replace Tech Sales People? My thoughts...

When I first started my sales career back in the 1990s, it was a very different job than it is now. My main tools were my desk, telephone, rolodex and my under desk filing system, containing all the information we had accrued on all of our prospects.

My only means of outreach was picking up the phone, which seems to have gone out of fashion these days, but I still consider it to be a valuable tool in the salesperson’s toolkit.

Before doing that, I would go back over historical information and calls, that were logged on the cards in my rolodex, to fashion the best cold calling approach I could muster.

My, how things have changed… and will no doubt continue to do so over the coming years!

Technology continues to advance at an exponential rate, it's no surprise that the role of technology salespeople is also rapidly evolving. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has already had a significant impact on sales and it's only going to become more profound over the next 5-10 years.

AI has already proven itself to be an excellent tool for automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks. For example, AI-powered tools can automate lead qualification, customer outreach and even close deals. In fact, according to a report by SalesForce, 30% of sales tasks could be automated using AI. This can free up sales reps to focus on more complex tasks and spend more time building relationships with their customers.

I wish we that capability had existed in 1990!

But it's not just about automation. AI can also provide valuable data-driven insights to salespeople.

By analysing vast amounts of data, AI can identify patterns and trends in customer behaviour and preferences, which can then be used to tailor the sales pitch and approach more effectively. For example, AI-powered tools can analyse email interactions and social media activity to understand the customer's interests and preferences, enabling sales reps to offer personalized recommendations and solutions.

Moreover, AI can help salespeople create highly personalised sales experiences for individual customers at scale. With AI-powered tools, sales reps can identify the customer's stage in the buying journey and offer relevant content or recommendations to help move them along. For example, AI-powered chatbots can provide personalised recommendations based on a customer's past purchases, preferences, and browsing history.

As we look towards the future, it's clear that AI will continue to play a significant role in technology sales. Sales reps who can adapt their skills and leverage AI to provide even more personalized experiences for their customers will be well-positioned to stay ahead of the competition.

With the right training and tools, sales reps can use AI to their advantage, making their jobs easier and more effective.

But what about the future?

Artificial intelligence has been making significant strides in recent years, and it's clear that it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. In fact, a report by McKinsey & Company estimates that AI could generate between $3.5 trillion and $5.8 trillion in annual value across different industries, with sales being one of the most significant beneficiaries.

As AI continues to evolve and become more advanced, many are wondering if it could eventually replace human sales reps altogether. After all, as previously mentioned, AI is capable of analysing vast amounts of data, automating tasks, and providing personalised experiences at scale. But is it truly possible for AI to replace human sales people?

I believe there are some tasks that AI simply cannot perform. Sales is not just about providing solutions to a customer's problems; it's also about building relationships and establishing trust. AI may be able to analyse data and provide insights, but it cannot replace the emotional intelligence and creativity that humans possess.

Furthermore, there are some sales situations that require a personal touch. For example, if a customer is unhappy with a product or service, an AI-powered chatbot is unlikely to be able to resolve the issue in the same way that a human sales rep could. Humans are better equipped to handle complex and emotional situations and their ability to empathise and connect with customers is essential to building long-term relationships.

That being said, the role of technology salespeople will undoubtedly continue to evolve as AI becomes more advanced. In the coming years, we can expect to see AI take on more complex tasks, such as creating custom solutions for customers based on their unique needs. Sales people who can effectively leverage AI to provide even more personalised experiences for their customers will be well-positioned to stay ahead of the competition.

So, could AI eventually replace humans in the role of technology salespeople completely? While it's possible that AI could eventually become advanced enough to automate the entire sales process, it's unlikely to happen anytime soon. The technology simply isn't advanced enough to replicate the creativity, emotional intelligence and human connection that sales reps provide.

In addition, there will always be a need for human sales reps, particularly in industries where trust and relationships are critical to making sales. While AI may be able to automate certain tasks, it's unlikely to be able to build the same level of rapport and trust that humans can. In other words, while AI can augment the sales process, it cannot replace the human touch.

In conclusion, AI is already transforming the role of technology salespeople, providing automation, data-driven insights and personalised experiences. While AI will undoubtedly continue to play a significant role in sales in the coming years, it's unlikely to completely replace human sales people.

The most successful sales reps will be those who can effectively leverage AI to provide even more personalised experiences for their customers while still maintaining the human connection that is essential to building long-term relationships.

Things have changed a lot in the 30 years I have been in sales and recruitment. As I reflect on how significant those changes are, I cannot help wondering how the young sales generation of today will be reflecting on how things have changed for them in 30 years time…. and I hope I am around to see it!

Paul Wilkin, Co-Founder at Harvey George Associates, your Technology Sales Talent Partner.

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