As AI becomes a more everyday part of business, questions arise around its consequences for sales jobs. The good news is that, while the salesperson of the future will look rather different, their role will not become obsolete.
The fastest growing skill on LinkedIn
When 200 of LinkedIn’s Top Voices were asked about their Big Idea for 2019, one in four mentioned some application of AI as a major shaper of business structures and strategies.
‘While 2018 was the year of AI hype, it feels like we’re at an inflection point where these technologies are being incorporated into more of the tools we use every day,’ explains Sharon O’Dea, co-founder of communications consultancy Lithos Partners.
Six of the 15 most promising emerging jobs of the past year in the US relate to AI, with it being the second most in-demand hard skill employers are seeking in potential employees. Acquiring AI skills has certainly been prioritised among job seekers, as it’s the fastest-growing skill on LinkedIn and are up by 190% globally.
This trend proves true across industries, with algorithms being used from medical research to predict health complications, to helping surfers spot the next big wave. AI will influence, and is already influencing, the sales industry and how we think about salespeople as well.
AI and the changing face of the sales industry
In an earlier article on the future relationship between salespeople and technology, we shared Peter Schwartz from Salesforce’s view that ‘the future of sales is artificial intelligence (AI)’. It was mentioned alongside a few other seemingly contradictory claims about the future of sales, which led us to read more carefully into what was being said.
While some fear that AI will cause many sales jobs to become obsolete, we believe that technology will change the role of salespeople, and with that change bring about a number of new sales jobs. The role will evolve, not die.
Human relationships are central to the sales process. While AI will play a crucial role in assisting salespeople to better know and serve their customers, it can’t replace these relationships. The aim remains the same as always: knowing your customer so that you can tailor your offers to their needs and increase your sales. AI increases your ability to capture useful information about your customers and helps you get a deeper understanding of your customers and better respond to their needs.
Sales jobs of the future will require salespeople to be informed consultants rather than mere order takers.
The future of sales is about the cooperation between humans and technology, such as AI. People bring creativity and emotional intelligence to the sales conversation. We are still pulling the strings behind the screens, telling computers, “if this, then that”, to obtain the needed information faster and more accurately than they could have on their own steam.
Our takeaway: as AI becomes an everyday part of the sales process, you don’t need to worry about being replaced by an intelligent machine, but rather by another salesperson or company empowered by intelligent sales technology.