There’s an increasing amount of noise in the market about how AI will either replace sales people or dramatically improve their productivity.
I’m not so bullish. In talking with a wide range of companies about their marketing and sales technologies, I identified a couple of common themes.
Life is Complicated Enough
Companies are finding it quite difficult to get value from their existing core marketing automation, sales automation and CRM platforms. Additional capabilities complicate existing processes, stretch already thin data, and don’t necessarily improve marketing or sales productivity.
They’ve invested millions into these core systems, worked to build new processes and workflows to leverage the new capabilities, and have found that lack of expertise, process skills, data quality, organizational alignment and simple patience all stand in the way of success.
CMOs, VP of Marketing or Demand Gen and others need to get value from the systems they already have, and they are stretched pretty thin. Frankly, many of their people (and organizations) are struggling to keep up with the demands of the existing core systems.
While AI is being offered as a silver bullet to their problems, most are simply saying “no thanks.”
Pockets of Success Do Exist
Predictive analytics for sales and marketing has been in use in a handful of large companies for more than 10 years. And the key to success for those companies has been extremely knowledgeable, inquisitive people running the systems in centralized service bureaus. I’ve worked with some of those people. They are wicked smart.
Sales for Dummies…or by Dummies?
One challenge is that the promise of sales “AI” reduces the perceived need to hire smart sales people. This is a Very Bad Idea™. Right now customers are clamoring for just the opposite…they demand more consultative sales people who can help them to evaluate and reduce organizational (and personal) risk.
Sales bots won’t do that. Ever have the experience of shopping for something on Amazon, and then seeing banner ads for those or similar items on many websites for days or weeks? Sales bots may well spew similar outbound digital effluvia, much to the dismay of prospective customers.
In survey after survey, enterprise customers are clear about their needs and expectations. What they want is smarter sales people…those who understand their business and are curious about how to engage effectively and to co-create to drive business value.
Or maybe I’m wrong. But I’ve seen this story play out more than a few times before…
If you are interested in building a competitive sales advantage, reach out and we’ll schedule some time to talk.