AI Will Take Certain Sales Jobs...But When?

So much has been discussed and written about the topic of artificial intelligence, but when the discussion comes up, the questions “Will AI hurt or help us?” and “Will it eliminate jobs?” seem to be topics of inevitable debate. Artificial intelligence can be defined in many ways, ranging from what has been achieved and put into practice today (simple reactive machines to those possessing “limited memory” e.g. self-driving cars), to the little understood future state of AI-powered computers capable of human-like emotions, opinions, and actual self-awareness. Real science fiction stuff.

So, let’s talk pragmatically for a moment. From a sociological standpoint, we could debate endlessly on whether AI-driven computers will be beneficial or detrimental to everyday life. Could our smart phones one day prove smarter than us? Might they eliminate the need to interact with co-workers, family and school friends?  One can only hope not.

On the other hand, what might be the possible economic impact of AI? Will smart software and AI-powered machines and assistants dramatically alter the landscape of the global workforce as we know it today? Could AI displace the need for certain types of workers or jobs, and tighten an already competitive, even shrinking,  job market?

First, let’s define AI and how organizations are using this science today to empower their business and productivity. Defined simply, artificial intelligence is a branch of computer science that leverages algorithms for grinding massive amounts of data to discover patterns and predictable outcomes. This “machine learning” can be extremely valuable in commercial applications, particularly as it relates to sales, ecommerce, marketing, and customer service. How many times have you received “robo” telemarketing calls? Or encountered an automated “helper” that routed you to the correct support rep, or even suggested complimentary products for you based on the items in your digital shopping cart? These are all instances where AI-powered technology has “learned” that your demographic profile and recent behavior will likely yield a certain outcome. Simple AI at work, involving sales prospecting (telemarketing), demographic profiling, and even high-volume data collection and processing can uncover patterns and begin predicting likely scenarios and outcomes (market research).

If we were to put our AI hats on for a moment, these areas are likely the top three human roles to be affected, or even replaced by AI technology in the near future. Areas that, according to some experts, show clear indicators that automation and bots will soon replace humans:

  • Telemarketers – Likelihood of replacement by AI predicted at 99%
  • Computer support – likelihood of humans being replaced by AI 65%
  • Market research analysts - Remember the data crunching that’s required to connect buyer profiles, behaviors, and likely outcomes? Today, some vendors are using AI to deliver comprehensive research reports in 5 days, not 5 weeks, and for a fraction of the cost

While the list of AI-replaceable jobs continues to grow, the opportunities for job growth thanks to AI and augmented intelligence are growing as well. In B2B sales and even retail, sales and service professionals are not so much threatened as they are empowered by AI and machine-learning. The field of sales enablement vendors is growing, and at Bigtincan we believe that our day-one commitment and advancements in the field of AI are not eliminating sales and service jobs, but creating growth in these categories. AI-powered sales enablement software makes sales and service teams more productive by automating routine tasks, delivering just in time learning and training (to operate and sell smarter), and equally critical, providing a digital hub for team members to help coach, collaborate and share intelligence with each rep – with the goal of replicating the success of top performers.

And while no one can predict the future, the influence of AI and machine learning in the sales process means team wide performance optimization, shorter cycles, and higher win rates quarter after quarter. And with that kind of predictable performance, we don’t see (nor have we  heard from our customers) human capital investments across sales and service departments diminishing anytime soon. In fact, there may come a time when additional hires to your AI-powered sales team could result in calculated, predictable revenue increases and return on investment. Certainly, something to shoot for.

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