2023 is undeniably the year of AI. In just about every field, it’s been embraced as the next big innovation and sales is no exception.
From deep customer insights to automated customer interactions to predictive analytics, AI platforms promise better customer experiences, faster.
But as we move into our AI-powered future, as much as we can see its strengths we’re also seeing plenty of limitations.
While AI can bring incredible new superpowers to sales teams, there are some things that AI just can’t do.
In this article we’ll explore the emerging reality of AI in sales – where it shines, where it falls short, and the enduring importance of human interaction.
- The AI Revolution in Sales
- What AI Still Can’t Do
- The Human Factor in Sales
- The Power of Empathy in Sales
- The Future of AI-Enhanced Sales
- Closing Thoughts
The AI Revolution in Sales
AI brings clear benefits to enterprise sales teams. It's like having a vacation day-free, always-on SDR who can help your team prospect, draft personalized emails, and interact with customers 24/7. It's no wonder most enterprise sales teams are jumping on the AI bandwagon.
It’s tempting to think that AI tools can do everything. With their ability to analyze vast amounts of data and provide immediate responses, it can seem like AI can be the right answer to every problem.
But AI isn't a panacea – it's an amplifier.
It's best suited to amplify the work already being done by automating repetitive tasks and providing valuable sales insights. But it struggles to replicate the human touch that's so critical in building productive sales relationships. Understanding nuanced customer needs, providing personalized service, and honestly, simply giving an empathetic damn are all areas where humans still outshine AI.
Even in just a few short months, we’re seeing where overreliance on AI can lead to more issues than it solves.
AI algorithms are only as good as the data they're trained on – so if the data is biased or lacking, the AI's performance will be too. AI simply can't understand context in the way humans do, which can lead to misunderstandings in customer interactions.
There's no denying that AI will revolutionize how sales teams work. But it's important to remember that it's a two-edged sword. AI can be powerful when used correctly, but it's not a replacement for the human factor in sales. At the heart of every sale is a human interaction, and that's something AI just can't replicate.
What AI Still Can’t Do
As we've worked with generative AI, we've started to discover that it has its limitations, just as human beings do. Let's take a closer look and see what they are.
AI can't think intuitively. Most of us have been on a sales call with a prospect where something just feels off. You can't put it into words, but you know this prospect isn't a fit. That's intuition and often a reflection of sales experience – and it's something AI can't emulate. And that means that for the foreseeable future, AI won't be able to make the same kind of nuanced judgements in sales situations that humans can.
AI struggles to understand context. While AI is great at analyzing data, it struggles to understand context and even parts of reasoning like we do. Imagine an AI sales rep trying to understand the difference between a prospect who is "interested" and one who is "ready to go." This is where humans excel – we can read between the lines and understand the nuances of language.
AI struggles in unpredictable situations. Sales is a dynamic field, with unexpected twists and turns. If a prospect asks for something completely off the wall, an AI powered agent might be thrown off its game. But a skilled sales professional can think on their feet and adapt, relying on their experience from years in the field.
AI tools are only as good as their data. If you're using AI for sales, it's important to remember that the algorithms are only as good as the data they're trained on. If they're working with biased or incomplete data, they'll give you skewed results – and that can lead to misguided strategies and missed opportunities.
AI isn't truly creative. AI can give surprisingly creative responses – but only with a great deal of handholding and structured prompting from its human counterpart. On its own, it's not so great at the kind of creative, outside-the-box thinking that can be critical for unlocking new opportunities. However, AI can jumpstart creativity within a human's own thought process.
The Human Factor in Sales
Let's take a look at the uniquely human capabilities that enterprise sales teams need to build strong relationships with customers and close deals.
Humans are a bundle of emotions. We feel excitement, frustration, fear, anxiety, and worry – often all at once. And that goes double for enterprise buyers on the cusp of a major purchasing decision.
Our emotional sensitivity enables us to connect with customers on a deeper level, beneath the surface level of requirements and pricing that often go into a sales transaction. We can talk with them about their kids or the vacation they just got back from, and build a rapport that lasts beyond the sale. Emotional intelligence is a powerful skill that AI simply can't replicate, one that allows us to build strong, enduring connections with our customers.
Trust is the bedrock of successful sales. As legendary sales guru Zig Ziglar put it: "If people like you, they'll listen to you, but if they trust you, they'll do business with you."
Customers need to trust that you understand their needs, that you're providing the right solutions, and that you'll be there to support them. Customers trust sales professionals who empathize with them, understand with them, and actually care about them – qualities an AI can't deliver. Based on a recent study by Gartner, buyers who interact with a sales rep are 2.3x more likely to experience value affirmation interactions that help buyers validate that a purchase is right for them and feel confident about the decision.
Sales professionals can build trust by being transparent, genuine, and doing what they say they will do. Giving your customers the confidence that they're making the right decision and that you'll be there for them after the sale is critical in sales, and it's something that only a human with EQ can do.
In sales, relationships are everything. That's the idea behind relationship based selling. It's a sales approach that prioritizes relationships over transactions. It's all about understanding the customer's needs, providing value, and building a relationship based on trust.
In relationship selling, every interaction is an opportunity to strengthen the relationship. Providing exclusive access to industry insights can position your team as trusted advisors who provide value beyond just selling products. Your sales team might send personalized gifts to clients to show appreciation at key personal or professional milestones. Sales reps can offer training sessions to help customers get the most out of their purchase. These might seem like small gestures, but they go a long way toward making your customer feel valued and understood.
Relationship selling doesn't stop with the sale. It's about following up, checking in, and showing the customer that you genuinely care about their success. Over time, these small touches add up – and you can create a bond with the customer that lasts long after the initial sale is complete.
AI can help you craft stellar personalized outreach, no doubt about it (just check out Regie.ai, for instance). But ultimately, it's a human touch that enables your sales team to stand out from the competition, close more deals and build lasting relationships. As companies rush to integrate AI into their sales processes, those that relationship sell will come out on top.
The Power of Empathy in Sales
Ever talk to a salesperson who seems to just get you? You don't feel like they're selling – they're connecting, understanding, and problem-solving. They make you feel seen and heard, like they understand your challenges and goals. That's empathy. And it's incredibly powerful in sales.
Empathy isn't just about being a good listener. It's about understanding. When you step into your customer's shoes and see the world from their perspective, you really care about their pain points, their needs, and their desires – and you can provide solutions that will really resonate with them.
Empathy in sales is a superpower – and a uniquely human one. Empathetic salespeople have an uncanny ability to connect with customers on a personal level, to build deep relationships, and to provide more personalized solutions. And no matter how advanced AI becomes, it can't develop the ability to empathize with another human.
Top-performing sales teams know how important empathy is in sales. And while they leverage AI solutions to improve efficiency, they never lose sight of the importance of human connection. The result? They outperform their peers, achieving five times more revenue, eight times more operating profit, and twice the return to shareholders.
The Future of AI-Automated Sales
As we move into the future of sales, it's clear that the key to success isn't simply handing things over to AI – it's using AI technology as a full part of the sales team, and allowing the machine to execute tasks with human guidance to enhance the productivity of human sales professionals.
AI is powerful. It excels at researching, prospecting, crafting personalized outreach emails, and writing tailored follow-ups. But it can't take the place of human interaction in sales. AI is best viewed as an advanced co-pilot, amplifying the capabilities of sales professionals and helping them perform at their best.
And that means the role of the enterprise sales professional needs to evolve. Sales pros need to use AI to take care of routine tasks like prospecting and crafting emails, so they can focus on the high-level areas where they truly shine: connecting with customers, providing personalized service, and building sales relationships.
In our AI-powered future, enterprise sales teams that lean into their human capabilities will win. It's about leveraging AI tools to enhance and amplify their skills to help them reach their ideal buyers, build genuine relationships, and close more deals.
If you're ready to augment your sales team's human intuition and relationship building skills with the power of generative AI and automation, it's time to take Regie.ai for a test drive. Check out Regie today – and start delivering relevant sales messaging in seconds.
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