Last week’s amazing Sales 2.0 conference has me contemplating the trendmeisters’ predictions of the demise of the salesperson as we know it (Headline: 15 million sales jobs in the US will be destroyed in this decade). First, I believe the headline is true, or mostly true. It’s already happened in B2C. It will happen in B2B. You can give me every reason in the world why machines won’t replace salespeople, but you’d be denying everything that’s going on around you.
What will the world will be like when the brilliant technology of a very-soon-tomorrow takes one of the two humans out of the buyer-seller conversation? Will the engineers remember to program in a little empathy for the buyer? Will their frustrations over not being able to find an answer to a simple (or complex) question, not knowing how to reach a decision, or not understanding how an offer connects to their problem be understood by the computer they’re interacting with? I sure hope so. Or are we just going to electronically feature and benefit at each other using the worst of our current human-human processes?
Here’s a little bit of experience that happened just a few hours ago. I got a cold call from someone. Being in sales training business, I think it’s morally correct to take cold calls. As usual, I was crazed. About 10 seconds into the call, the salesperson said, “It sounds like you’re really busy, should we talk later?” Empathy – just a little bit, and I appreciated its simplicity. The spam her competitor sent this morning (yes, her competitor did spam me) had no empathy. It was in-my-face, look what I can do, look at what all of your successful colleagues are saying – the usual crap.
I’m not advocating for a return to cold calls. The world has done away with them and good riddance, too. But this experience of mine is a small snowflake on the tip of the iceberg. In one part of the buyer-seller conversation, we’ve lost empathy. That is, unless you believe that the spam was a serious attempt at getting a conversation going……