Artificial intelligence (AI) has slowly become a major participant in the sales process. It can comb through data faster than any human, it automates processes to save us time, and it’s critical to any inbound selling strategy. Voice searches and Google translate are just two examples of how AI impacts our lives. It was bound to start changing the way we buy, sell, and find products.
With the growth in artificial intelligence, there has been wild speculation as to how it will disrupt industries and impact jobs. No one can know for sure what the future holds, but there will be advantages and disadvantages to automation. Computer systems will surely help sales teams sell by talking mundane tasks and gathering data, but we shouldn’t rely on computers for some aspects of sales.
AI is revolutionizing the sales industry. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen.
Sales managers should know the pros and cons of AI before adding it to their sales processes.
Pro: Eliminate Mundane Tasks
Automation means the death of routine and time-consuming tasks. No more scheduling prospect meetings, answering basic questions, or data gathering. Artificial intelligence integration with sales software means a computer can do all of these things for you!
This frees up time for sales reps to conduct client meetings, prepare pitches, and, most importantly, make the sale. The more mundane tasks are taken over by AI, the more time your sales staff has to do the part of their jobs they love—closing the deal.
Pro: Personalized and Relevant Messaging
The predictive nature of AI means it can easily gather information on customer preferences and give recommendations based on that data. Think about how Netflix and Spotify recommend shows and music that fit your tastes.
This is extremely useful for sales reps—they’ll know their prospects will be receiving content that is relevant to them and their interests. AI systems gather information a human might never ask for and use it to tailor emails and suggest products and services that are the most likely to get a reaction.
Con: No More Transactional Selling
As we have already seen in the food service and retail industries, AI is removing the need for low-level sales jobs. Robots can take orders and check us out at the grocery store just like humans. That means these jobs will be on the decline for the foreseeable future. However, history shows the rise of AI will most likely create more jobs than it takes; new technology always causes a disruption.
Pro: Avoid Human Error
Humans are wonderful for many reasons, but we do make plenty of mistakes. Computers, on the other hand, have great memories and don’t make many errors. Data gathered by AI is guaranteed to be processed error-free, and there is no such thing as forgetting with a computer. Your reps will be confident their follow-up emails will always be sent and all prospect information will be entered and saved.
Con: Customers Don’t Always Want to Chat with a Computer
Chatbots have been around for quite a while now. Many consumers know there’s a good chance a website chat function means chatting with a computer. This fact can make certain people uncomfortable and can leave them feeling neglected.
There is no doubt that chatbots are transforming the sales process. They can answer questions and lead people to the information they need. Yet, chatbots should only be used if your target audience will respond positively and you have human support as back up. AI should be supporting your sales team, but if it’s alienating your prospects, your strategy will backfire.
Con: Algorithms Aren’t Always Right
As stated above, computers don’t often make mistakes, but they can be wrong. A computer program or piece of software is only as helpful as the information it’s given. It’s difficult to narrow down human decision making to a formula or algorithm. Humans are unique, have different tastes, and change their minds often. Sales teams shouldn’t put all their eggs in the AI basket when there are so many variables that can change.
Artificial intelligence adds efficiency and allows sales reps to sell based on valid data. Every great technology has drawbacks that need to be considered, so take note before adding AI to your sales strategy.