Everything in today's business environment seems to be about technology, the latest developments, content marketing, algorithms and machine learning. These are the latest buzz words and it means something else to each person you encounter.
Personally, I love technology but only to the extent where it supports human interaction rather than replacing it. When hiring for sales people, for example you miss out on a huge talent pool if you have algorithms pre-sort through resumes and discounting them on missing key words.
When it comes to selling, content marketing is a huge part of many companies’ sales strategies but it should not replace human interaction.
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.
Common sense is the least common of the senses. I love that saying and it is so true. The more technology focused we become, the less we use our common sense. Why is that? Because we rely on it too often and feel that everything we need can be found on the internet. There are statistics that show that we are getting dumber and dumber. I would argue that we are also getting lazier
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 and respond appropriately.
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 I am one of many to receive them. There is also the trend to over-systematize and sales people rely on technology to help them make a sale rather than picking up the phone and talking to people.
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 important to support brand awareness but it should not replace human interaction.
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.
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.
Applying logic and knowledge is key to managing technology platforms. For example, CRM systems are important to enable us to effectively engage with prospects and customers. BUT! CRM systems are only as good as the data that is fed into 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 your CRM system, 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 enabled solutions that come with it. What we shouldn't forget though is that technology doesn't replace human interaction in the sales process. Not yet, anyway and hopefully not any time soon.