There is no doubt that robots have been transforming human work.
Even more so, numerous media and academic experts expect that robots will steal many of our jobs. This concern stems from an array of emerging technologies automating physical (robotics), intellectual (cognitive computing) and all kinds of customer service tasks (everything from self-help kiosks to grocery store scanners).
These kinds of developments are certainly real and important – and the question is whether some jobs might even disappear because of them. However, is the future of jobs really as bleak as often assumed? Or will automation in fact accelerate the growth of many new jobs, and come up with some wholly new categories? Might there be a true transformation, i.e. will humans increasingly find themselves working side by side with robots? These questions turn out to be particularly critical in the traditionally people-dominated sales field.
Now what exactly is the impact of automation on sales?
First of all, automation only makes sense when it comes to low risk, simple, transaction-oriented tasks that don’t require a lot of personal interaction. Clearly the advantages of automation are the fact that simple straight-forward production flows can be implemented faster, more flexibly, with high precision and almost free of human errors.
This is not so much the case with complex sales solutions, such as financial, purchasing or medical consulting. This requires a great deal of trust whereby the human factor is absolutely mandatory. Plus, machines cannot substitute jobs which are strategic or creative. Why that? Machines and computers just cannot connect abstract thinking or unrelated thinking patterns.
Automation in non-complex sales jobs has led to numerous industries moving the human factor increasingly into the background. This mostly applies to industries like banking, pharmacies, lawyers or store clerks, cashiers or accountants. Transport and logistics (such as taxi and delivery drivers) as well as office support (such as receptionists and security guards) are also more and more substituted by computers. That is because ATM machines reduce the need for bank tellers, virtual assistants can answer the phone 24 hours a day, and self-service machines are reducing the need for checkout clerks.
Yet overall technology has been creating more jobs than it destroyed – especially in sales. Accordingly it is expected that automation will create 13.6 million new jobs in the next decade. That is because of the way automation works in practice. Automating a particular task – so that it can be done more quickly or cheaply – in fact drives the need for human workers to concentrate on and optimize the other unautomated tasks around it.
Hence the impact of automation on complex sales is more positive than anything, adding further value to tasks rather than exploiting them.
But what about the human factor?
What automated services certainly don’t entail is the human aspect. Speaking to someone personally clearly enhances proximity and creates a rapport from the start. Connected to this is the important factor of relationship building that is becoming more and more crucial in a competitive sales environment, where knowledge, diligence, abstract thinking and creativity are key throughout the sales process. Ultimately sales is not about selling, sales is about creating a solution that is yet unknown to the prospect.
Plus, customers’ purchase decision-making process takes much longer today than a few years ago. That’s because of the greater choice and transparency on the market. What’s the consequence? The customer has way more knowledge, which again means the sales or service specialist has to deliver maximum transparency and knowledge as for products and services.
That’s something a computer is simply not capable of.
So what do customers really want?
What humans want more than anything else is human interaction, especially with highly personal, intimate matters. No one wants to discuss their child’s problems in math or chemistry with a machine. Nor do they want to discuss the future plans for their neighborhood or city with a computer.
Humans are exceptionally good at leadership, social collaboration, goal setting, teaching, coaching, encouraging and selling. These innate, human skills could possibly be replaced by automation, but that’s not desirable. Here is an example: a robot can teach math. It may even sense the emotions of the children, but it’s not what society wants. We’ll always want and value these soft skills!
What do salespeople need to bring?
Especially in B2B selling, the foundation for a successful relationship with the client is: building trust, delivering ideas, using knowledge to create new solutions and convincing with out of the box thinking.
These are the key factors people can provide compared to machines. But why is it so important to build trust with your clients, customers and prospects?
A high degree of trust is a vital part of building a good long-term rapport. With the right rapport, you are more likely to end up with customers for life and thereby grow your business continuously. After all, companies don’t buy from companies, people buy from people!
The best way to gain popularity and hence customer loyalty as a business – no matter what you sell – is through word of mouth. If your customers trust you and find you easy to talk to, they are more likely to recommend you to others – and thereby become your substitute sales team.
How does SELLBYTEL deal with this trend?
SELLBYTEL has always generated great trust by demonstrating its vast knowledge as well as experience connected to clients’ products and services.
And by continuing to specialize even more in complex topics, we are able to keep up with the increasing trend of automation and contradict its outcome, today and in the future.
But why are we not replaceable when it comes to complex tasks?
Our employees have accumulated enormous product-related knowledge over the years and have become real ambassadors of our partners’ brands. By expressing their passion and expertise for the respective products, our people are excellent at building sustainable trust among customers and themselves. They know how to create out of the box solutions, think beyond the known and they are able to articulate the value of the sale in a trustworthy manner. Or in other words, our people are strategic sellers who bring their creativity to the sales process.
Finally, what’s the bottom line?
All in all, businesses should by all means take advantage of automated processes when it comes to simple tasks to enhance efficiency. In more complex cases, however, the sales process should be made as personal as possible and include a great deal of trust to ensure lasting customer loyalty. That is exactly what the SELLBYTEL Group does.
Are you interested in finding out more about us and our progressive solutions? Visit our website!
Or directly get back to Michael Kreuziger, SELLBYTEL New Business Director, via Michael.Kreuziger@sellbytel.de