People get complacent and lazy. They’re bad at focusing on repetitive tasks, bad at getting their heads around new ones. Lack of sleep or a family crisis affects their performance.


Statistically, as few as 10% of your salespeople can comfortably and consistently deliver your value proposition to a C level audience. Jesus wept.


Luckily, you’re living through the rise of accessible automation and genuinely disruptive tech.


Now, robots… Robots are consistent. They do what they’re taught and what they’re told, every single time. Robots are reliable.


Robots have improved productivity in car manufacturing by 58% since 2009 (the service industries have seen a 10% fall in productivity over the same time period).


Sales could do with some of that productivity. And we shouldn’t feel bad about it. As economist and Professor of Economics at the MIT David Autor says, “The machines work for us. If they can ultimately do our jobs for us, then we are richer not poorer as a result”.


Sadly, there is a catch – one that throws a great big spanner in the works.


Robots can’t feel.


Emotion is at the heart of sales. Without emotion there is no persuasion and no decision. Just think of neuroscientist Antonio Damasio demonstrating that people suffering from damage to the part of the brain that controls emotion were completely unable to make even basic decisions – what colour socks to wear or what to have for dinner.


Good salespeople listen to buyers’ pains, unmet objectives and marketplace tensions. They work with the customer to create a vision of their company as it is, before building and presenting a vision of their company as it could be.


Salvation is just a signature away. That’s a purely emotional decision.


It will be rationalised later, but the initial decision is a gut reaction – this will drive new lead gen, this will make more money, this will free up time to pursue our core objectives. We buy this, we win.


So here’s the deal. Let’s punt the complex, systematic housekeeping work onto the robots. Let’s let them chase renewals, generate review data and ROI reports, even drive new conversations with customers by automatically reviewing end of life products and proposing the most logical replacement.


Logic, data analysis and facts. Robots are good at those things, people are bad at them.


So, at least until robots learn to feel, let’s train salespeople to sell human-2-human. Let’s focus on the fact that emotion is where decision are made, and teach them how to recognise and leverage emotional triggers and buying behaviours.


Let’s make salespeople smarter, more intuitive, and get them in front of buyers. Let’s ‘take the robot out of the human’, give the logic and legwork to the machines and let salespeople get on with being people.


If we can’t do that we may as well throw them all in the woodchipper and welcome our new robot overlords. It was only a matter of time anyway.


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– Tom @WSL