Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Right now, there’s a lot of business talk about how artificial intelligence is going to replace some functions, including sales. I believe that is both accurate and inaccurate. If you or your salesforce use scripts as a starting point for making sales, for example, then absolutely that is something AI can do. That may be bad news for your sales staff — but do you think it’s good news for you, even if you think it saves you money?
I believe that much of the early and current hesitation or even fear surrounding the rise in AI is because so many people still don’t have a clear understanding of both its strengths and limitations. People fear what they don’t understand. By making a conscious and deliberate choice to understand it better, entrepreneurs may find themselves integrating and leveraging it in their business practices, allowing them to move from fear to abundance.
Part of that may require you to change your mindset about both AI and sales. Quit seeing AI as a competitor, and instead focus on what makes humans unique to the sales process.
To illustrate, I’ve listed a few examples of what AI can and cannot do when it comes to sales.
2 things AI cannot do — yet
1. “Match and mirror” to create customer rapport
Building a customer relationship can take time. But there are tips you can use in the short term, including what I call the “match and mirror.”
Somewhat surprisingly, many people never think about how breathing — or anything kinesthetic — can build an instantaneous rapport. If your customer is talking slowly, synchronize your breathing and speech with them. This can instantly create an unconscious rapport as the customer begins to perceive you as being similar to them, as you “match and mirror” the way they are breathing and talking.
We synchronize with another person when our unconscious mind perceives the other person as the same as us — they become a friend, not a threat. When you look in the mirror you don’t say, “Oh, I’m threatened by myself.” You simply look and think, “This is me.”
You can do this over the phone, too, or over a Zoom call. You can also match your customer’s posture and the way they sit. These are easy ways to sell to the unconscious mind — where decisions are made — versus selling to the conscious, and right now it would be very difficult for AI to replicate this approach.
2. Tap into what your customers feel vs. what they’re seeing
A prospective customer or client calls your store or place of business. Many salespeople start the conversation with something along the lines of “What are you looking for?” They are asking for a visual identity. The customer, on the other hand, might be feeling for something — not looking visually. Maybe they heard from some friends about something they should try on kinesthetically. Instead of asking them what they are looking for, ask “What are you after?” or “What is it that you want?”
People attach value to why they’re buying. If you find the language that taps into those values, that customer will tell you, show you or describe to you what they’re feeling to help you guide the sale, versus you being the salesperson that tells them what they should be looking for. If you can do this, you’re building a relationship that translates into repeat business.
This, too, is something that is currently unique to human ability.
2 ways AI can help you
1. Remove bias and create authenticity
AI is a tool that allows us to analyze data quickly based on existing models. Let’s say you want to talk to a prospective customer about current events in their industry — I’ll use finance — but in a manner that’s authentic to you.
Ironically, AI can help you achieve that authenticity in a very time-efficient manner. You can’t possibly read every news item or understand everything going on in the market right now, but you can use an AI model to scrub the data, without any biased filters, and then add your own filters so you can have authentic and knowledgeable conversations with your customers and prospects.
2. Help you create the ideal customer
AI is simply machine learning coupled with data on the internet. I liken it to a “super brain.” In an instant, you can get answers in the time it takes you to type a few questions, without putting in a lot of research time and energy. You can use that data to help you “design” your ideal clients or customers. You can list customer attributes that are most likely to bring your business success and then prioritize them.
Take those attributes and priorities and use ChatGPT or another AI tool to help you find and target those customers, as well as data that you can use to develop branding, sales techniques and other materials specific to that “customized” customer design.
Moving from fear to abundance
The ability to pitch and sell is important in every business, and humans are an important component of that. There will always be a need for human interaction and the ability to connect at the conscious and unconscious levels — remember that so much of our functionality happens in the unconscious, which is why it’s important in sales.
I liken AI to when the internet came into the hands of everyone. It may seem scary right now because of job security fears, but I believe that’s because the training is lacking. By integrating it with your other business processes and particularly in sales, entrepreneurs and business owners can use it to work less, produce more and build more wealth in the process. I don’t just mean financial wealth, but a wealth of time. By leveraging it smartly, with your own human approaches, you can give your business the type of sales boost that creates generational wealth.
This combination of both AI and human ingenuity can create a new level of awareness of how much abundance there actually is.