Humans vs. Technology in Sales
Technology and sales enablement has become really important aspects of today's sales environment, but there is danger lurking in trying to automate areas that should be left to humans.
Technology Does Not Replace Humans
Everything in today's business environment seems to be about technology, the latest developments, content marketing, microblogs, engagement, SEOs, etc.
Some companies have become over-systematized, forgetting that Humans buy from Humans and that trust cannot be built through automation. Personally, I can always tell when marketing automation is used without a human touch. It often happens that I get solicitation emails from companies that already acquired me as a client, or when various salespeople from the same company approach me trying to sell the same solution.
CRM systems are powerful tools to manage a company's prospect and client base. Adding marketing automation to those CRM's is an even more powerful way to engage, but only if humans manage those systems with care and diligence.
In a consultative sales environment technology should only be utilized to support the sales process, but never to replace it. People want to feel special and they don't want to be viewed as a mass target.
Here are some examples of what technology lacks.
The Human Touch
And by that, I mean exactly that. The human touch. When you call on a prospect you can apply nuances to your voice, you can be compassionate and you can adjust your language.
Mass messages, even if they are targeted to specific audiences will always be static. Yes, you can add images and videos and animations, but they will never be personal. I get mass emails and messages all day and some of them are more relevant to my business than others, but they are never exactly what I am looking for because the messages weren't designed to speak to my business specifically but rather to people who fit a bucket. When a lead generation/client adoption process is over systemized there is the danger that the salespeople will rely on it and become complacent.
In sales, it is very important to overcome objections and to add value to your customer/client so they buy from you and choose your product or service. Content marketing is an amazing tool to raise awareness and to put a brand on the map so your prospect and client base is more informed on your offering. Most people today will research a product/service before they make a buying decision, but I would argue that people still like to buy from people and they will most likely buy from people they trust. Building trust takes time and it is a process that cannot be rushed or replaced by technology. Again, technology is the supporting tool but not a replacement.
With all the hype about content marketing, we sometimes seem to forget that it's actually Content that drives Content marketing. Guess who provides content? People! As I am sitting here writing this article I am wondering if there will ever be a technology that will produce quality content. I sure hope not. Not for self-serving reasons but for the nuances which human beings can provide. I can't help but think that computer or technology generated content would lack the subtlety of human writing. What technology would be able to develop headlines that crown the New York Post, u7k Cirque Du Stormy? And what about sarcasm? I can tell you that I have yet to find a computer program that translates effectively, let alone create original content, especially when it comes to humorous phrases or idioms.
And by that, I mean applying logic, knowledge, and judgment. Let's talk about database management because to me it's key to effectively engaging with prospects and customers. CRM systems are only as good as the data that is fed to them (which is the truth for all technology-enabled solutions). GI-GO – Garbage in – Garbage out, which brings me to over-systematizing without applying rational thinking and feedback. When managing a database you need to know who your target audience is, whether they are a client, a prospect or a partner. If you don't tag your contacts properly, your messaging will be off and it really doesn't matter what technology you use.
Although we all think that technology has made it so easy for us to do almost everything by itself, it's really important to remember that making a decision is still something that humans need to do. While technology can help us build an opinion or stay informed, it's still humans who make the decision to buy and people who are signing checks.
In closing, I want to add that I love technology. I really do. Like most of us, I would be lost without my computer, Smartphone and all the technology solutions that come with it. What we shouldn't forget though is that technology doesn't replace humans. Not yet, anyway and hopefully not any time soon.
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