AI will not substitute for selling skills, but it will become one of the core skills of selling.
Recently, HBO’s sci-fi thriller television series WestWorld, showcased a park in the future where androids (hosts) are almost indistinguishable from human beings. With so many exciting AI breakthroughs, some even optimistically suggest that we are inches away from passing Turing Test, and reaching singularity. One natural question arises — will AI replace human beings? Particularly in the sales domain, will AI take over the jobs of the salesperson? The short answer is no and yes (at least in the near future).
First of all, the use cases surrounding AI for sales are still centered around human beings. AI is an enabler, not a replacer. AI empowers salespeople to be more efficient, focus on the core task of selling, and helps them effectively allocate their time and resources. Thus, AI, should be interpreted as augmented intelligence, that will assist salespeople to be smarter and more productive.
On the other hand, from the technology standpoint, there is still a big gap. Anybody will take a deep breath when hearing the news of a Tesla driver getting killed in an accident with the autopilot engaged. AI systems require careful curation and training. Otherwise, they may go wild and insane, like Microsoft’s chatbot Tay. AI can do well for specific tasks, by learning from tons of data, just like AlphaGo, but not for generic tasks with limited data to chew on. This is particularly true in the case of sales.
Nonetheless, successful salespeople will be those who embrace AI technology. In the near future, AI will not substitute for selling skills, but it will become one of the core skills of selling. Future A-players will differentiate from B-players by how they can effectively leverage AI for sales execution. Naturally, those who shy away from AI-driven guidance will not survive competition. They will be replaced, not by AI, but by other salespeople who embrace the edge that AI gives them.
The AI wave is here. Will you be ready?