Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Sales Reps?

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Mohak S
Product Evangelist @ SalesboxAI

I recall watching The Iron Man, all of them in the series. Like a human-Alfred to Batman, an AI-Jarvis always had Iron man’s six covered, from projecting a holographic image to flying his suit across continents. Most of the technologies probably evolved that way, out of a sci-fi movie fantasy.

Well, let’s keep it aside for a minute and rope ourselves back into the topic.

First, let’s put Artificial intelligence into an application based grasp,
#Case 1: Suppose you’ve scheduled a board meeting at your office for the next day and you put up a reminder for the same on your work wall. Next day you arrive late being forgetful of the meeting that is already in the conference room awkwardly waiting for you. You begin with your presentation and a call buzzes in your pocket amidst the corporate silence, another feather of awkwardness into your victory hat!

#Case 2: Let’s take the same agenda for the next day, only this time you’ve asked your mobile virtual assistant to add a reminder for the meeting on the specified day, time and location. Next day it notifies you of the same an hour earlier to the commencement of the meeting. As you make it on time accordingly, your assistant recognizes the location and notifies you saying it is switching your phone to DO NOT DISTURB mode until you are in the meeting.
Case 2 is a classic illustration of the AI functioning for a mobile phone, life simplified the Poka-Yoke way! In fact, we’ve been consciously or unconsciously surrounded by the AI tech, ranging from aggressive-suggestive ads on internet to futuristic self-driven cars.

Though we’ve been introduced to Artificial Intelligence in the late 90’s itself, it has taken the world by storm in the recent years. Everything that we are linked to today is in some way a small piece or an entire element itself of AI. With AI growing it roots firmly into various industries ranging from Automobile, Agro, IT, Electronics and E-commerce (etc) investors have taken a keen interest in the idea of it. According to the data from CB Insights, investments shot up from $700 million to $2.4 billion in 2013 and ahead. The applications of AI and its results in various industries have certainly upped the scale of revenues and profit generation with relatively less monetary investments and manpower efforts.

Now here’s the darker side of the coin. With the wave of AI, automobile industries employed machines and algorithms putting a large chunk of skilled factory workers out of jobs. Then came the agro industry with the same effect. AI in all its glory, has now found its befitting place into the Sales and Marketing domain and with its advent comes the question, ‘Will AI replace sales reps?’ Let us run a layman’s analysis on this and then conclude with the Iron Man story(I loved Robert Downey Jr. in the movie by the way).

To understand AI software powering sales and how it imperils sales reps, it is important to grasp the know-how of virtual utilities in Sales & Marketing domain. Sales related software are virtual desk that helps a sales rep record and update an ocean of prospective customers, manage their activities and interactions with them and finally make successful sale. Pre-AI era, the features these software had to be manually updated by the sales reps (evolution from Excel sheets), each lead had to be personally sent mails and messages regarding the product. Layers of logic and enforced decisions further processed the data input. Surely productive, and yet stunted by a myriad of teeny tasks that consumed attention, classic ‘death by thousand cuts’ example.

Amidst the homogeneous swarm of utilities in sales, a company SalesboxAI came up with the application of AI-based sales suite. SalesboxAI accelerates the sales growth and optimizes the process flow until you close your sale. A virtual sales assistant (sales avatar) designed by SalesboxAI incorporates business intelligence to do all the prospecting tasks while you put your human skills to close the sales. The AI suite helps sales reps by deriving intelligence from company data, encompasses the business applications, tools, and workflows that bring together information from all parts of the company to enable smart analysis.

If you were aware of the Pareto’s principle, an AI helps in deriving 80% and higher output out of 20% of fed efforts. Basically you put orange and water in the mouth of the machine and trot to the other end. While you do so, the machine on its own does the selection of the good oranges, peels and squeezes it, extracts fresh pulp, discards the sour and waste ones, fills and packs the juice into containers for you to further deliver. That’s what an AI based suite like SalesboxAI does to the leads you feed it with.

A credible US-based survey reveals that currently demonstrated technologies could automate 45 percent of the activities people are paid to perform and that about 60 percent of all occupations could see 30 percent or more of their constituent activities automated, again with technologies available today. But when machines take over some human activities in an occupation, does not necessarily spell the end of the jobs in that line of work. On the contrary, their number at times increases in occupations that have been moderately automated, because overall demand for their remaining activities has continued to grow. For example, the large-scale deployment of bar-code scanners and associated point-of-sale systems in the United States in the 1980’s reduced labor costs per store by an estimated 4.5 percent and the cost of the groceries consumers bought by 1.4 percent. It also enabled a number of innovations, including increased promotions. But cashiers were still needed; in fact, their employment grew at an average rate of more than 2 percent between 1980 and 2013.

Correlating the same with a sales ambiance, AI powered software like SalesboxAI will gear towards helping your Sales Rep, Service Agent and Marketing Manager to get super-human skills! So no, it’s not going to make any sales-related person consider seeing a job far off the sales coast. On the contrary, I believe it will support them to become more efficient and effective by doing the things they do today in an optimized way adding more value to the client and ultimately to your business through higher customer order value, order frequency and reduced churn.
A word of advice to the sales reps out there, ‘everything comes with a price to be paid! Your future in sales depends on your ability to adapt and work along with virtual robots and automation. So dust off and put on your learning gear, grind yourself into automation and machine learning to an extent you make a strong anchor into it. To the rest who believe that learning technology trends is as good as a cloud flying well above their heads (unnoticed), don’t lose hopes. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to come, there’s always a door opening when the previous one closes.’

Coming back to ‘The Iron Man’ part, it is Tony Stark, the hero who equips his instincts with technology to save the world (like a rep uses technology to close sales). And about his AI buddy Jarvis, he made heroism simplified for Tony and that is what your sales assistant is intended to do in the sales flow for you. But not all can become Iron ‘men’, you know what I mean.

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