‘May you live in interesting times’. I’ve been mulling over the famous Chinese quote recently, and I think it’s fair to say, we’re living in interesting times, right now. Pandemic. Brexit. Ukraine. The cost-of-living crisis.
And on top of that lot, now generative AI is set to swoop out of the cloud and nick all our jobs and livelihoods. Bummer.
It’s this topic, specifically, that’s of interest to me right now. The future is upon us. And out of the ‘click, buy and there’s your delivery driver’ situation, boosted a thousand-fold during the pandemic lockdowns, we’re now not far off a scenario where you buy online and receive at your front door and your goods haven’t been touched by a human hand. Difficult to imagine? Not really. Automation and AI can already pick, pack and put into vehicles. We already have driverless vehicles. It’s doable and it’s driven by technology and the thirst for ever-increasing shareholder returns.
It’s not all a picture of doom though. AI is now helping us find cures for superbugs, Elon Musk’s brain chip business wants to help restore people’s vision with computers (fascinating but a bit scary) and brain implants help a paralysed man walk again. All in the news this week.
But what about us? What about human interaction? What about the way we are and the way we go about business, to business?
Having spent a bit of time wandering around the vast floorgrounds of the NEC this year, visiting trade shows, catching up with clients, checking up on innovations in the sectors we are prevalent in, having ‘chats’ with people who’s job it is to create demand and sell complex product and service propositions.
Yes, actually talking to other like-minded sales and marketing folk. What about us?
My view is that we’ll be ok! Relationships are still critical to developing sales funnels. Chatting (no bots or ‘nobots’ required) to fellow sales and marketing professionals reassures me that AI won’t replace the ability to be human (not in the short term anyway). The ability to listen, empathise, fact find and create solutions to pain points, are all intrinsically human traits. We do this every day, intuitively, and these traits combine in my 4Cs of business-to-business development (or sales).
Competency – not only do we have to be able to convince someone that what we sell is worth buying, but we need to actively prove it. To demonstrate we can do what we say.
Creativity – I’m talking about the art of problem solving. Finding a way around the hole in the road. Being creative with your solution
Chemistry – people still buy people. This is never more positively demonstrated than at the fantastically well attended shows at the NEC. People wanting to ‘get on’ with others. We want to be able to look someone in the eye and shake their hand.
Cost – we may have to negotiate at some point. This requires the ability to tailor solutions (Creativity) and create
All of these points require us, as humans to be empathetic, pragmatic, understanding and flexible. All human traits. The bots may catch up at some point, but right now, selling complex, high value propositions, is still very much a human condition. At CONVERTA, we adopt all of these intuitive, human characteristics in all of our lead generation campaigns. It’s not rocket science, it’s conversion through conversation. And long may it continue.