By Tibor Shanto-
There is a lot of discussion around the role of technology in sales, advances in AI (you decide what the A stands for), and its impact on the role of and future of sales people. There is no doubt that technology will continue to change the process of revenue generation, maintenance and growth, but that’s nothing new. In any given decade as technology is introduced, the sales tribe is the first to adopt. We are the ones who figure out how to leverage new tech to make more money, sales ops figure out how to take cost out of the cycle, driving even greater margins.
But any conversation about “sales” and technology, should really be framed not as discussion of sales, but revenue. Revenue, across the entire “client life cycle”, in that context, sales, or specifically, the act of selling, is but one small part of the cycle. Selling here is defined as the initial point of persuading someone who is not doing business with you, to do business with you. A small part of the larger revenue cycle, a crucial one, one that enables the flow of revenue, but it is a small part in the context of the “client life cycle”. That front piece is different than the rest of the rest of the cycle.
This why once the client has been persuaded, in most instances, the client managed by a different set of people with different skills. This is even more pronounced in today’s “disintermediated” sales environment, or as some would like to call it, “sales specialization”. No matter the label, the reality is that the person with making the initial sale, is not the one tasked with ensuring “customer experience”, fulfilment and support, “account management”, or growth, or renewal. Taken as a whole, it’s all sales, but we all know it is a hockey team, yes, it’s all the Habs, but no one looks for the goalie to score, or a centre to stand between the pipes.
Which brings us to tech’s impact on sales, more specifically the discussion of “salespeople” being displaced by tech. I would argue that if we took the “client life cycle”, the continuing revenue cycle, some parts are much more vulnerable to being out done by tech and replaced by tech. In fact, the further you are in the process, the more at risk you are to being “Amazoned”.
The critical point, is the ability to persuade someone to change what they are doing now, and buy your offering or service from you, the thing hunters do. While tools and tech can help score leads, nurture them, even get them to the point of engagement. This may be easy for that small part of the market that is actively looking, ready to buy, and are just looking for the right vendor. But when it comes to that 70% plus part of the market that is in Status Quo, not interacting with the market. It takes real skill to engage with someone who has not given any thought to engaging, changing or buying. This is the very reason that closed opportunities are handed off to people with other skills, and out of the hands of hunters, and given to people with different skills; skills I would argue easily replace by automation, which will likely do it more efficiently.
So, if you are a hunter, with the unique EQ, IQ, and skills to lead and persuade, you need not worry about displaced. If you are downstream from the signature, Alexa has your number.