As organizations across the world come to witness the advanced capabilities of AI and automation, more and more businesses are making the transition towards the adoption of these cutting-edge technologies. Moreover, the applications of AI have been explored extensively across the sales and marketing domains, offering unparalleled results when compared to a pre-AI age. And while AI has already begun to transform business processes and outcomes, along with the skills in demand from the workforce, this is only the beginning. At the same time, both business leaders and employees are increasingly worried about how technology will impact the future of businesses as well as the job opportunities in the market.
Sales and the AI effect
There can be little doubt about the huge potential of AI in the workplace and its impact on both overall processes, as well as specific functions. The increased application of AI in organizations will also inevitably lead to certain job roles being automated that can be performed much quicker and more efficiently. Much has been said and written and continues to be written, about the potential effects of AI and automation on jobs, especially those of sales professionals. While most opinions among the workforce about AI and automation are influenced by their fear of being replaced by machines, there might be much less cause to worry.
It’s important to understand that technology exists to support and enhance human capabilities, not replace them. The advent of automation in the workplace is accompanied with the promise of making jobs easier for a human workforce and allowing them to focus their intellect and energies towards more creative functions or problem-solving. Thus, repetitive tasks which may take up more time but not offer as much value, can be automated. On the other hand, AI boasts analytical and computational capabilities far more powerful than that of the human brain. This allows employees to perform those roles which require special skills, emotional intelligence, or the ability to build relationships, in a more effective way.
Why AI won’t replace sales jobs
As a sales-enablement tools, artificial intelligence offers substantial strategic advantages, one of which is giving the business an edge over its competitors. This is where data plays a critical role. Data is the key to understanding consumer behavior, and AI allows businesses to analyze large sets of data and derive insights on both existing and potential customers, prioritize leads, offer better product recommendations and accurately identify the intent to buy among customers.
Machines may be adept at processing complex mathematical problems, churning large volumes of data, organizing spreadsheets, and carrying out thousands of tasks in the blink of an eye. However, establishing human connections, empathizing, responding to specific situations in the right manner, and offering unique solutions to problems are what a human brain and intelligence do best. That’s because, ultimately, machines can only do as they are taught, and that’s what sets them apart from humans. The belief, then, that the true value and efficiency of AI can only be derived by replacing human beings with machines, is simply false. In fact, AI and automation only further emphasize how crucial human insight, emotions, and expertise are to the success of a business.
Moreover, why sales professionals have no reason to fear for their jobs is because the art of selling is just that, an art. And while data, analytics, and AI may provide a scientific edge to the art of selling, at the end of day, even customers look for a human connect when interacting with a salesperson. When it comes to human interactions, AI works best when paired with humans. Why? Because AI can never truly replicate humans.
How AI will drive more sales jobs
With the scale of automation in enterprises and the number of devices used by consumers growing constantly, there is a concomitant need for professionals to turn digital insights and leads into actual sales. This means the demand for people to manage each stage of the AI-driven sales process is only increasing. From the development and testing stages, to support, maintenance, and programming, bots require human intervention and inputs at each stage to deliver the kind of results they are expected to. However, the key to securing these jobs of the future is to acquire the relevant digital skills and expertise. The future is all about AI augmentation – a combination of human and artificial intelligence, where both complement each other.
In sales, AI is only one half of the equation; human insights, or the ‘human touch’, hold as much importance. Having said that, we are undeniably moving towards a future of human-machine collaboration within organizations, both large and small. And those who are prepared for these rapidly emerging developments will undoubtedly thrive in a technology-driven, future-oriented business landscape.
However, augmenting the sales and marketing processes with AI, while also scaling up the organization’s capabilities, will require professionals to be equipped with the tools and skills to work with the technology. Once both organizations and employees put their fears about AI and jobs behind them, they must look to invest both energies and resources towards preparing sales professionals for future roles. While organizations must consistently invest in training and up-skilling the workforce, sales professionals will need to adopt a more proactive approach to acquiring knowledge and skills, and bolstering their capabilities to stay relevant in an ever-evolving market.