Could Robots Take Your Sales Job?

Posted July 30, 2017

The increasing presence of robotics and artificial intelligence are among the biggest transformations happening in today's workplace, and this shift has sparked worries around how human employees will be impacted.

While a significant amount of jobs have already been replaced by machines, think ATM machines and production line robots, sales professionals shouldn't start staying up late worrying about being replaced by a software program or smart box of metal.

Here are a few reasons why sales jobs are safe from the robotics revolution, for now.

Human intuition

Some retail websites act as de facto robot salespeople. These sites can suggest products based on past purchases, personal interests or any number of user inputs. However, these sites don't understand how you might feel about various products and the intangibles they provide.

For instance, an Apple computer might cost a bit more than a similar PC, and if you tell a retail site you're only willing to spend so much, it might eliminate the Apple computer from a list of suggested products. However, that Apple computer, with its sleek design and eye-popping display, might inspire you to be more productive than a drab PC. That's something a computer 'salesperson' really can’t relate to or use to sell you that more expensive Apple computer.

More effective sales techniques

Sales people rely on proven techniques that are based on human interactions, like storytelling, empathy and emotional intelligence.

Salespeople will often try to relate to a potential customer through a personal anecdote. In the computer example above, a salesperson might be able to talk about a business deal they made based solely on someone noticing their new Macbook. A robotic salesperson, on the other hand, can't tell that story.

Empathy, or the ability to identify with and understand somebody else's feelings, is another useful sales tool that computers can't replicate. So, a human salesperson might be able to talk about a frustrating experience working with a PC and how a Macbook addresses a specific issue the PC cannot.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to make use of emotional information to guide with decision making, and since artificial intelligence doesn’t have emotions - it's hard to say a software program can have emotional intelligence. Flesh-and-blood salespeople, on the other hand, can tell if a potential customer is frustrated, feeling impatient or acting desperate and react accordingly.

Simply put, sales is all about building a genuine relationship, and that's hard for a computer to do.

Some jobs will be lost

While computers won't replace most sales jobs anytime soon, it would be disingenuous to say there won't be measurable sales job losses due to automation. These will mostly be jobs that don't require a lot of thinking - essentially the 'grunt work' of sales.

In order to guard against job loss, salespeople should constantly be growing their skills set and making themselves a more valuable employee.

At Ambassador, we regularly have job opportunities for sales professionals. Please contact us if you're looking to take the next step in your sales career and work with a full-service staffing agency.