Will an AI toaster ever replace the Sales Representative?

Tech savvy sales and marketing folks are always looking for an edge over their competition.
The past few years have been filled with lots of IT promises whereby AI, machine learning and predictive data analytics will replace the salesperson as a fate de complete.
With this in mind will the venerated salesperson ever be replaced by the multi-functional, AI, machine learning toaster?
I think not, or at least not in the near future!
Think about all the time we waste with companies automated, fun and responsive customer service chatbot “robot” sales rep! Companies claim that these automated systems are efficient and save customers time – but we all know the only thing they save is the company’s money. As customers we spend our valuable time arduously repeating and enunciating our vowels down the phone line “Customer Service” “Human Being Please” or “Get me a Representative” or (as you know) much, much worse!
Just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock or haven’t had the pleasure of subjecting yourself to a fun and responsive customer service AI chatbot “robot” sales rep, here are a few common interchanges many of us may recognize;
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Please listen to the following choices then make your selection:
Translation: Because we know you have tons of spare time
I’m sorry, I did not understand….Please listen to the following choices then make your selection
Translation: Let’s go back and start over wasting more of your time as I didn’t
Understand your response in the given 3 second window
Your business is important to us
Translation: Really? Pray tell why I am still on HOLD…?!!
We’re here to assist you
Translation: as long as it’s when we’re ready and doesn’t cost us $’s
Finally, we can hear ourselves saying: “HUMAN BEING – PLEASE” “Just get me a person to speak with….”
Now think about some of the key characteristics of our top human salesperson.
Listens, comprehends and answers in real time
Interprets with a high EQ – Emotional Quotient / Intelligence. Reps have the ability to engage, perceive, interpret and respond with their own emotions while considering at all times, the emotional responses of prospective buyers
Highly organized, knowing who to contact, when, how often and what the next steps are
Asks timely, focused and pertinent questions to move towards the end game
Problem solves and continually recognizes the client’s needs to deliver a sale and generate a happy return customer
None of these human attributes can be replaced by IBM’s Watson or Salesforce’s Einstein or any other AI currently available today. Thinking about the 60’s sitcom “The Jetsons”, if we’d listened to the tech expert’s back then, by now we should all be flying to work!
Sales tools are continuously advancing and have a place in business today and into the future, but at the end of the day the tech savvy, well trained salesperson is in no real danger of being replaced anytime soon.
The current reality is that AI, machine learning, PDA, algorithmic analysis, KPI loading and the other ‘fluffy’ distractions usually fall far short of reality and are in fact still in their infancy.