We often hear of the importance of getting to know your customer in order to better sell to them. In Peter Schwartz’s article, The Future of Sales is Artificial Intelligence, Schwartz writes that the “more you know about the person you’re selling to and the more you’re able to tailor your offer to his or her circumstances the higher likelihood of sales success”. He says that one way to get a deep understanding of your customers is through artificial intelligence.

“Personal computing is when you know your computer. Intimate computing is when it knows you.” Soon every salesperson will use AI to learn a great deal about your customers (assuming you aren’t already). AI will paint an intimate portrait of each customer. 

“The introduction of intelligence is now underway and will play out for quite some time. This means that within five years, basically every salesperson will have an intelligent assistant that will use intimate computing to deliver rich context around every step of the sales process, from initial contact to closing.”

While right now we are using devices to schedule things, soon your sales assistant will be an all-in-one scheduler and coach.

Schwartz also mentions VR-Virtual Reality. He suggests that in twenty years we can expect commercial sales interactions to include VR.

Many salespeople are worried about being replaced by these inventions. “That’s why my preferred term is not artificial intelligence but augmented intelligence, because this technology actually makes the human salesperson much more capable by augmenting them. I'd be more worried about being replaced by another salesperson who is empowered by intelligence than by a machine.”  This is why Schwartz says we need to master the technology now available. We need to be able to master the technology as it comes. That way we will be better able to adapt and better able to be of use when it comes to incorporating more technology into sales.

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2. 7 Technology Trends That Will Dominate 2017

Jayson DeMers article reflects on how fast we are moving with technology. He provides seven tech trends that will dominate 2017.

  1. IoT and Smart Home Tech. The problem with universalizing smart home tech before was finding a uniform system and having companies collaborate. “Now that bigger companies already well-versed in uniform user experiences (like Google, Amazon, and Apple) are getting involved, I expect we’ll see some major advancements on this front in the coming year.”
  2. AR and VR. Augmented and Virtual realities, mentioned in the article before, will be a bigger thing in 2017. With options growing for every budget, expect these to catch on sooner rather than later- accompanied by an increase in sales innovation. 
  3. Machine Learning. “Throughout 2017, I expect to see machine learning updates emerge across the board, entering almost any type of consumer application you can think of, from offering better recommended products based on prior purchase history to gradually improving the user experience of an analytics app. It won’t be long before machine learning becomes a kind of “new normal,” with people expecting this type of artificial intelligence as a component of every form of technology.”
  4. Automation. Use of robots will continue trending upward. Combined with machine learning, 2017 has the potential to provide the biggest productivity boost yet.
  5. Humanized Big Data. “In 2017, I expect we’ll see advancements to humanize big data, seeking more empathetic and qualitative bits of data and projecting it in a more visualized, accessible way.” I am very excited for this one.
  6. Physical Digital Integrations. Digital companies will move into the physical space, while their physical counterparts will continue transitioning into the digital sphere. Expect the already blurring lines to become further muddled. 
  7. Everything on Demand. This has been huge lately, and Uber has certainly been a big part of it.

What are you most excited for? What do you think should be added to this list? Jayson ends with these words, “Anyone in the tech industry knows that making predictions about the course of technology’s future, even a year out, is an exercise in futility. Surprises can come from a number of different directions, and announced developments rarely release as they’re intended. Still, it pays to forecast what’s coming next so you can prepare your marketing strategies (or your budget) accordingly.”

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3. If You Can’t Empathize With Your Employees, You’d Better Learn To

In Annie McKee’s article, McKee talks about empathy-the ability to read and understand someone’s feelings. She writes that "empathy is one of the core competencies of emotional intelligence and a critical leadership skill. It is what allows us to influence, inspire, and help people achieve their dreams and goals. Empathy enables us to connect with others in a real and meaningful way, which in turn makes us happier-and more effective-at work."

Everyone has a capacity for empathy and it must be developed. A good measure to know if you have empathy is if you care about people as much as you care about results. Employees who do not feel like their needs are empathized with will quickly become disillusioned with their work.

McKee provides three tips to help you develop empathy in the workplace:

  1. Observe, listen, and ask questions. Use cues like body language to dictate the course of the conversation. Don't play discussions like a game of verbal chess- let them flow naturally.
  2. Avoid distractions and try to be more fully present when you are with people. The current work environment is incredibly distracting. Deadlines loom, phones vibrate, crises arise. It is difficult to put these things aside for the purpose of relationship building, but doing so can have an immense impact.
  3. Stop multi-tasking. Employees know when they are getting the short end of the attention stick. No matter how good you think you are at mult-tasking, you are not good enough to fool everyone. Take steps to concentrate on the dialogue at hand.

McKee writes, “Developing empathy requires self-awareness, self-management, patience, endurance, and lots and lots of practice but you can learn it with time and dedication.”

It will take time but it matters. Take the time to develop empathy for people. We all want to be understood.

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4. How Gratitude Can Improve Your Business

John Jacobs, founder of Life Is Good, tells in a video how gratitude will improve your business. He says that remembering to be grateful helps you stop focusing on what is going wrong. This way you can focus on things that are being done right. This helps build good relationships and helps thing to be more positive.

Keeping things positive helps in working with people. “Focus on the good and grow the good in your life,” he says.

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5. The Art of the Wait

In Dan Waldschmidt’s article, he says that we spend a lot of our time waiting. True. He says that it is of foremost importance that we’re not sitting idly by- but it is okay to be patiently waiting for things.

Waiting is a fine line, a "precarious position." Wait too long, and opportunities will vanish before your eyes. Jump the gun and all your carefully laid plans might go to waste. 

Ballerinas do not get dizzy despite their rapid twirling. Professional gymnasts almost never fall from the beam. Both maintain their balance in the same way: they focus on a single, immovable point. With her whole focus set in the stands, the ballerina does not tumble. With eyes narrowed at a single point on the balance beam, the gymnast deftly flips and lands. Just so with waiting. Keep your eyes fixed on the big goal. 

Forget about what you feel in the current moment, and observe the events' gentle flow toward the final delta.

"What a silly, whimsical sentiment," you might be thinking. "Everyone knows to keep their eyes on the prize." True- but too often, in the heat of the moment, we forget the most obvious and important things. 

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 Think AI is the only way tech can help sales? Learn why sales management training and video are a powerful match.

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