AI has sparked both excitement and apprehension. With its ability to automate tasks, process vast amounts of data, and mimic some human characteristics, AI has already started to transform business and will continue to do so.
As far as the sales profession, I have been around long enough to have lived through 3 or 4 cycles predicting that the profession will suffer the same fate as the soda jerk and the bematist.
Here’s the thing though, as more and more of our lives are mediated by algorithms, the basic human desire for connecting with our fellow carbon-based life forms has become more acute.
There are certain aspects of the sales profession where human skills will be even more critical. What will world-class sales skills look like?
Personal Brand and Thought Leadership:
A strong personal brand and thought leadership are pillars of successful selling. While AI can provide data-driven insights and recommendations, it cannot replicate perspective, experience, and personality. Building a personal brand allows salespeople to establish credibility, connect with their audience on a deeper level, and position themselves as trusted advisors—a feat that cannot be achieved through algorithms.
The connection and learning that occurs in conversations between buyer and seller are invaluable. AI may assist in providing relevant information, but it falls short in capturing the nuances, emotions, and subtle cues of human to human interaction. The ability to ask insightful questions, actively listen, and empathize sets the human sales professional apart.
Storytelling and Connecting the Dots:
Stories have a profound impact on human beings. They evoke emotions, capture attention, and help make complex ideas relatable. Sales people who possess the ability to weave compelling narratives and connect the dots on the fly, tailoring their message to resonate with individual buyers will be an even more important requirement of the profession.
Sales is about helping people find alignment and agree to a path forward. Managing emotions, negotiations, objections, and conflicts are uniquely human capabilities. Navigating delicate situations, diffusing tensions, and finding win-win solutions are beyond what AI can do.
It’s a pretty safe assumption there will be fewer sales jobs 5 years from now than there are today. And while AI will undoubtedly revolutionize the sales landscape, there are fundamental aspects of human selling that will likely not be replaced any time soon.
Empathy, intuition, and adaptability will remain vital human skills for establishing trust, building relationships, and providing guidance to buyers.