This article was written by Ton Dobbe – Chief Inspiration Officer, Value Inspiration, following an interview with Dr. Cindy Gordon, Founder & CEO of SalesChoice.
Every week I interview entrepreneurs and experts from around the world to share their big idea about new forms of value creation and the potential we can unlock when technology augments the unique strengths of people to deliver remarkable impact.
AI: The new oxygen
I got inspired by the big idea behind SalesChoice; hence I invited CEO Cindy Gordon to my podcast. We explore the large-scale challenges sales professionals have in making their targets. The fact that 30% of sales professionals suffer from attention deficit disorder, and that attention span has dropped 50% over the past 10 years are likely making this worse than better. AI is coming to the rescue here.
The thing that triggered me most from my interview with Cindy
“The problem is that 30 to 60% of sales professionals don’t make their sales plan targets or quotas in the b2b market segment”
Why did this trigger me? What’s the bigger value here?
Isn’t that amazing? We’re able to reach more people than ever before, at a fraction of the cost. We’ve been automating the sales process for decades, and still the bulk of our salesforce misses target.
But it seems to be a common threat. In my interview with Mike Schneider, CEO of First.io, he revealed that top Real Estate agents are missing two third of the deals from people they already know.
So, what is the challenge? Edwards Deming once famously phrased: “When you see something broken, don’t assume that it’s the people there’s something in the process or something you can’t see that might be hurting your discovery.”
What appears is that it’s not only information overload at the customer/consumer side – the same is true on the sales side. As Cindy quoted: “30% of the sales population suffer from attention deficit disorder. And if that’s not enough, in the last 10 years, the human attention span has dropped by 50% since the advent of mobile technology. So, what’s happened is because of the speed acceleration, or ‘the age of distraction’ dynamics, b2b sales professionals have one of the hardest jobs in the world because of the noise factor.”
This is why the sales process is ripe for transformation. Not by removing people from the process, but by creating human/machine combos that combine the best of people with the best of technology. It’s about guiding sales in real time by removing the noise, with insights they could not know by themselves, and by presenting the best next action. Today they’re able to obtain 99% predictive accuracy on the overall sales cycles whether they’ll actually win or lose a sales case they are working on. With that it’s easy to state that Sales people working in partnership with AI will outperform the ones who don’t.
What’s the more significant question/opportunity that raises?
It’s the question why is there still so much hesitation to embrace AI in full? How do we change behavior, and more importantly, how do we break with the bad habits?
We’ve all heard about the fear aspect of being displaced by AI, which if you ask me is not very realistic in the typical B2B sales environments. So, from that perspective what holds us back is our lack of curiosity about the potential of combining humans and machines.
What’s possibly a bigger challenge is ‘inertia’. Our self-talk that we’re doing fine. It’s about our internal willingness to challenge the status quo, to raise the bar, and not agree with the statistic 30-60% of our sales staff misses target.
The other thing is that both sales managers and sales people really believe they have their act together in their forecasting. It’s one of their pride jewels – and they don’t want anyone or anything to reveal they’re wrong.
And then there is trust. Cindy formulated this spot on: “The issue that we have is humans just being willing to trust AI sales enablement, as much as they trust me be Uber, or Waze, or Lyft, that I’ll get to the right destination rather than second guessing.”
But all these arguments don’t hold anymore today. Cindy made some strong points on this: “These AI agents, they get smarter and smarter and smarter, and they keep course correcting, they just keep self-learning. You just cannot compete as one human. Now we can give sales people the universal intelligence of all the moves, like the chess moves, required to win. Just plug in five minutes, and every priority that you should be working on is prioritized scientifically.”
Regarding trust – this is about removing the AI Black Box. Cindy: “We’re providing all the audit trails, because somebody has to be accountable for the predictions. And if you can’t understand it, the legal issues will be pretty significant.”
So, the problem with making progress is not so much AI, but more our own decision-making skills to embrace it in full. I very much agree with the analogy Cindy made: “I often like to say that AI is not the new electricity, it’s simply the new oxygen and we need to breathe it in”.
Listen to the big idea behind SalesChoice and why it has the potential to transform the impact sales professionals can make.