With each advancement in artificial intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML), there is a growing anxiety by many who feel that robots, or more specifically automation, will replace them. “Will I have a job in the future? Will my position exist or will it be subsumed by automation?” are the questions many are asking.
In the absence of information people tend to create their own mental monsters of what may or may not happen. Not knowing what’s coming is often worse than knowing. Yet, since no one knows what’s really coming, that includes Elon Musk, let’s do our own analysis of what may come. Let’s start by first defining what we mean by a ‘job’.
A job is a position in a company. That position requires the individual to perform certain tasks to achieve a desired outcome. In sales, those tasks can range from making a cold call to negotiating a deal and everything in between.
If a job is a set of tasks, then the goal is to optimize or reduce the amount of time and effort required to complete those tasks; especially those not directly associated with closing a deal (e.g., making travel arrangements, filling out expense reports, cold calling inactive numbers, etc).
“Will my job be automated?” is the wrong question. The right question is, “How will my job be transformed using automation?” Automation is, for a sales function, not a matter of replacement but one of optimization and augmentation. Intelligent automation will allow us to do more activities that directly impacts the sale (optimization) and it can also help us sell more effectively by generating actionable insights to help guide the client’s decision-making process (augmentation).
For a B2B complex sales position, you may see 20% of the position automated. If you’re in a B2C commodity type sales position, 50% is a conservative number. These are estimates. To find your number, simply ask yourself what percent of your job can be automated away.
The upside of AI? The more efficient you are as a salesperson, the more time you have to focus on the primary task of selling. The more time you have, the more clients you can serve and the more deals you’ll be able to close.
Intelligent automation isn’t necessarily a bad thing!