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Why Sales AI Won’t Replace Reps Anytime Soon

We’re not obsolete … yet.

There’s a saying in B2B sales that people buy with emotion and justify with fact. It’s more than a saying; it’s a fact. Trust is a predominant factor in any buying decision. Two things being equal—and they never are—people buy from those they know, like, and trust. Unless a buyer likes and trusts you, you won’t get the deal. You won’t even get invited to sit at the table. But when you get referrals, the trust your prospects have with their colleagues is transferred to you. You’ve earned their trust before you ever show up.

Sales AI doesn’t have the same advantage.

You’ve probably heard the “expert” predictions that technology will render salespeople obsolete, and sales AI will soon replace us. Not so fast. We know that salespeople who use AI and other predictive analytics tools are far more productive than those who don’t. But will sales AI actually replace us? Yes, for those who sell commodities. For those of us who sell solutions, our jobs will increase by 10 percent, according to a 2015 report by Forrester.

When Forrester conducted the same research two years later, in 2017, they predicted that “upskilled inside sales will play an even greater role in all phases of SMB and enterprise sales than initially predicted in 2015.”

Why? Because sales AI doesn’t have human emotions. That means it doesn’t earn trust like salespeople do, and it doesn’t learn the way we do.

David Niki, CMO of Innowire Advisory, Inc., discusses the learning limitations of AI in his fascinating Entrepreneur post, “AI Won’t Replace Us Until It Becomes Much More Like Us.” Here’s a snippet:

AI Won’t Replace Us Until It Becomes Much More Like Us

The late Stephen Hawkins worried that AI could end mankind. It seemed reasonable. Elon Musk warned machines that learned to operate without a human telling them what to do could “destroy humanity as a matter of course without even thinking about it” if it “[had] a goal and humanity just happens [to be] in the way.”.

But reality has proven that while AI can beat humans at games, it still fails at common tasks an infant can do, such as holding an object. In fact, to solve this problem, researchers from OpenAI used 6144 CPUs and 8 GPUs to collect about one hundred years of experience and trained the AI for 50 hours. As a result, the robotic hand can handle unknown objects — as long as they are “within reason.”

Read the rest of the article on Entrepreneur.com.

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