Where does creativity (in sales) lie now that AI is all the rage?

I don’t know what Fridays are like in your world, but mine have a definite ‘day before the weekend’ feel. We have our head office in London where we congregate and share our successes and challenges, but we are happy for people to work from home (or anywhere else they may be) provided it does not hinder the business in any way. On the contrary, we believe that that independence motivates our people which in turn rewards our company. Friday is often a day I choose to WFH and it is often when I am at my most creative.

No lying in though! It’s up as usual, drop my wife at the station (not the same flexibility as me) but now the daily routine changes. Café, coffee, twitter feed, LinkedIn and think! E-mail can wait as I peaked at it last thing last night and rushed off anything I needed to then.

This morning, as I scrolled through Twitter, an HBR article about the next phase of AI caught my eye. The basic premise is that rather than asking ‘machines’ to trundle around in deep data searching for insights, the received wisdom is that we should better frame the questions we want answering to give AI a helping hand to get started. Apparently the ‘time to insight’ (I think I will copyright that) is exponentially faster and, obviously, relevant to the circumstances the business faces. Well I’ll be damned!

The art of creativity is well researched by a few but misunderstood by most of us. Without belittling the significant investment made by those that are experts, common sense suggests the more you understand the more creative you can be. Understanding situation, context and consequence can both help manage risk and create a spark of creativity at the same time.

Sitting in my café, scrolling through my social feeds, I am constantly, and mostly sub consciously, referencing new information against my challenges, knowledge and experience. The creative spark comes when I gain insight that delivers understanding that solves problems or provides opportunities.

If I had a penny for every time I have heard ‘sales is an art as much as a science’ I would be a wealthy man. The inference being that you cannot get machines to do a sales person’s work. We agree with that statement (we have built a framework for selling not an algorithm) but we also understand that supporting salespeople with insight from more relevant data can be the spark that ignites their creativity. The future of selling is like that of every other business function. We need to learn to embrace the automation of routine tasks and the insight that analytics and AI offer in order to stay ahead of the competitive. If we don’t do that, others will.

Our challenge at SalesMethods is to make sense of how AI will help the business process of selling. Our positioning is as a ‘platform for sales enablement’. We provide playbooks, tools and services that form solutions to sell better. We must deliver on incorporating AI within our portfolio and are following Salesforce’s progress with Einstein to ensure we can build on that capability to deliver the knowledge, understanding and essentially insight to enable the creativity that supports sales being an art as much as a science.

Right, back to my coffee.

Michael Conner

Michael Conner

Michael has operated at executive board level in publicly quoted companies and has led operational activities across worldwide organisations. Michael has extensive experience of change management and implementing business transformation programmes (turnarounds and repositioning) throughout disbursed businesses. He is an expert in sales (direct and channels), marketing (including product management), general management, making acquisitions and worldwide markets. He is CEO at SalesMethods.