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The Self Driving Sales Rep

This article originally appeared on MarTech Advisor.

Are we there yet? David Keane, CEO and co-founder of Bigtincan talks about how self-driving sales teams will move sales enablement forward by decades in a single swoop

On August 31, 2016, Elon Musk, CEO and founder of Tesla, announced in a tweet the upcoming release of v8 of the Tesla Autopilot software.

According to Musk, the new Autopilot would provide major improvements to the already market-leading self-driving technology available for Tesla owners.

For many of us who grew up driving a ’96 Toyota Camry, the very idea of self-driving cars is pretty fantastic, but it’s also an advancement we saw coming and one that the power of computers and the ministration of digital technology that we see in tablets and smartphones was destined to provide.

However, for those of us who navigate the autobahns of sales enablement, a lot of how sales people work today still relates to the way they worked twenty years ago.  Sales reps still use laptops to prepare and create static materials, still visit customers, and they still work diligently to provide knowledge and customer value across a wide range of products they sell.

When a sales person needs help, they still turn to marketing for technical expertise on what materials will make the biggest impact with a customer and help to move the sale forward.

What’s clear is that sales teams are ready for an advancement akin to self-driving vehicles: An engaging, mobile platform that can guide them through the process of selling in a way that takes advantage of all the available information about the customer and marketing collateral for the products they are selling.

As we look to the power of the smart mobile device, the explosive growth of the scalable cloud and the continued development of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) software – isn’t it time to move the sales process and customer engagement into the future?

That’s where smartscreen1@2x selling comes in. An intelligent sales system should understand the history of how the sales executive and their peers have been successful in the past. It should intuitively know which pieces of content and collateral have been successful for similar executives inside the organization and it should react to the real-time variables, conditions and events that the sales person is working with to provide a recommended or guided approach that has the highest chance of leading to a faster, more informed sale.

Let’s imagine, for a moment, no more stumbling around, searching and surfing for the right content to use at the right time. No more frantic calls to marketing teams to create last-minute collateral. A next-generation sales enablement solution – just like Autopilot on a new Tesla – will help the sales person to seamlessly navigate the sales process, from one step to the next until they hit the exit ramp as the sale moves efficiently and predictably to the next stage.

But this is more than just using the sales person as a cardboard cutout to present a video – it’s about understanding the context (the road conditions, if you like) that the sales person is working with to get them from A to B.  It’s about a system that understands the customer’s needs based on previous meetings, where they are in the sales cycle, and the relevance of specific product materials to move the sale forward – even allowing for information to be delivered right to the sales person’s mobile device – will help them keep their “hands on the wheel” while being guided to the next step.

In addition to powering the self-driving sales rep, this technology will add value to their existing CRM and marketing automation systems to help the organization get a closer look into selling patterns.

So – is this self-driving sales rep someone that we will see on the roads before Autopilot v9 is released? Absolutely.  And just like the success of a self-driving car is all about allowing the human to provide real value while the car does the basic things, with a smart selling system, it’s possible to free up sales reps to provide the value-add that only a person-to-person interaction can provide.

And while 2016 is a whole lot different than 1996 for drivers, with a new view of selling, it may not be as much like 1996 for the sales team anymore either.

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