In November 2022, a new AI platform was released to the world. And professionals in all kinds of industries panicked.
“It’s going to replace us!” was the universal cry.
They were talking about ChatGPT—an AI-powered chatbot that uses natural language processing (NLP) to converse with humans. It’s built on OpenAi’s undeniably revolutionary GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) architecture.
The sales industry wasn’t immune to the impact. “AI sales” fast became an unavoidable buzzword.
People are claiming the technology can take care of everything. We’re talking lead generation to customer service.
And for far cheaper than “real” sales professionals.
There’s definitely a place for artificial intelligence tools in sales. But the story isn’t quite that simple. Let’s take a look at why ChatGPT and its ilk are unlikely to replace great salespeople anytime soon.
Sales professionals offer a personalized touch that ChatGPT simply cannot replicate—at least for the foreseeable future.
Establishing trust and building rapport with potential clients requires human interaction. Customers don’t quite trust “the machines” at this point!
Emotional intelligence is also essential for sales. It allows salespeople to understand and empathize with customers. Sales professionals are highly adaptable and can pivot their approach quickly to suit individual needs.
ChatGPT may simulate emotional intelligence, but the program does not have feelings. And this limits its ability to engage authentically with humans.
Sales professionals can leverage their social skills to build networks of contacts. These contacts provide valuable leads and referrals.
These connections typically include past customers, industry peers, and other business associates. It’s something that requires real-life human interaction.
Clearly, ChatGPT is not capable of building these types of relationships. After all, it can’t go to a networking meet-up or jump on a quick call with someone.
We touched on this above, but let’s dive a bit deeper… As we stated, sales professionals possess emotional intelligence (EI). In fact, it’s a hallmark of a good salesperson.
Emotional intelligence consists of five categories:
- Social skills
Salespeople use all these EI sub-skills when pitching a product or closing a deal. They help them understand the needs and motivations of their customers.
It’s difficult for ChatGPT and other AI models to replicate EI because it relies on someone feeling empathy (or at least understanding how to feel empathy) for another person’s situation. It simply doesn’t have the ability to navigate the sensitive world of human emotion.
Sales professionals have in-depth and technical knowledge of the products and services they sell. This is particularly true if they’ve been with a company or in an industry for years. They can answer complex questions and explain features, benefits, and use cases in detail.
ChatGPT may have “learned” about a particular product or service. But it doesn’t have the same nuanced understanding or real-world experience.
In sales, understanding a potential customer’s preferences—and understanding them quickly—is critical for success.
Sales professionals listen intently, ask relevant questions, and adjust their sales pitch accordingly. They change their approach as needed to build rapport and establish trust with their customers.
In short, sales professionals are highly adaptable. They can quickly pivot their approach to suit their customer’s needs.
Conversely, ChatGPT is limited by its programming and learning model. It struggles to respond appropriately to unique situations.
A good salesperson is a master of complex sales.
They’re adept at building relationships with multiple stakeholders and decision-makers. Everyone involved in the sales process gets their attention.
Sales professionals assess the specific needs and concerns of each individual involved. Then, they tailor their approach accordingly.
This level of attention is necessary when closing a deal.
ChatGPT is limited in its ability to understand the intricacies of complex sales. That’s because it’s programmed to provide general information rather than custom-tailored solutions. Sure, you can use prompts to get it to give you more specific answers, but it’s still limited by its source material and programmed guidelines.
Moreover, human interaction provides an opportunity to establish trust and rapport. This can be especially important in high-stakes, high-value deals. For these reasons, sales professionals are essential for handling complex sales situations.
Persuasion is a crucial aspect of sales. It requires a high level of emotional intelligence and personalization that ChatGPT fails to match.
AI in sales can provide customers with general information about products or services. In some cases, it can even formulate special offers and discounts.
But it’s not created to be persuasive. In other words, the responses it provides are unlikely to push a customer on the fence to make a purchase.
A skilled sales professional can:
- Connect with customers emotionally
- Build trust
- Address their concerns
And all of these factors are necessary for successful persuasion.
Sales professionals often need to invent creative solutions to meet the unique needs of their customers. This is where ChatGPT falls short.
As we’ve mentioned ad nauseam at this point, ChatGPT is excellent at providing general information. However, it’s less great at generating innovative solutions or thinking outside the box.
On the other hand, sales professionals tap into their creativity and problem-solving skills. They use these to craft novel approaches that meet their customers’ needs—on the spot.
This is especially vital for customers with complex or specific requirements.
Learn to Work With AI Sales Tools
There’s no denying ChatGPT and other natural language processing or AI sales programs are helpful tools. But we’re a long way away from them replacing salespeople in the near—and likely even the long-term—future.
Savvy sales professionals don’t need to fight against this new technology. Instead, they should learn how to integrate it into their sales processes.
This will give them the edge they need to sell more products or services faster and nab those bonus checks.
If you want to add a proven sales team to your workforce, consider The Selling Factory. We manage top college students to conduct research, make calls, and generate leads. You get all the results with none of the HR hassle.
Book a free consultation today.