Geoff Colvin, Senior Editor at Large, Fortune Magazine, and the New York Times bestselling author of Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, and Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will, joins me on this episode.
Geoff says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is fully understanding and appreciating the degree to which they are threatened by technology. Forrester Research predicts that by 2020, 20% of B2B sales jobs will be eliminated. The single largest employment of males in America is truck driving. Driving is threatened by technology. An autonomous truck has already made a commercial delivery.
The industrial revolution put artisans out of work. The arrival of electricity put education in the forefront. The technological revolution is now lessening the strength of a college education, as knowledge work is being automated.
Employers require administrators to have college degrees but college skills are not needed for administrative tasks. AI technology now does what young lawyers used to do — discovery of documents — better, faster, and cheaper.
Law school grads are hunting for jobs. The meaning of being a great performer has changed. Technology can do the repetitive work, and even more complex work. Instead of being more machine-like, we need to relate more humanly.
To look into someone’s eyes is the key to creating value. Talking face-face with someone literally synchronizes both brains. Turning away stops the synchronization. Various visual cues combine to build trust.
In SaaS, close rates are not very good. SDRs burn through hundreds of thousands of leads to get the deals. Andy suggests for high-value deals, get on the plane and meet the contact. Conferences are becoming more important.
Oxford Economics reports that employers will be looking for more right-brain employees in the next few years. Other research shows that empathy is trending down among students. These are skills needed for teams and leaders.
The greater value an employer puts on empathy, the greater value it is to hire women for those roles. Geoff talks to students and asks whether men or women are better at deep human interaction. He gets one answer.
Training and ongoing education of sellers has to focus on these selling habits of building relationships, not on tactical skills. Some employers think people cannot be trained in these skills, or don’t know how to train for them.
These skills, added to product knowledge and customer knowledge, are your path to a long career in sales. Knowledge is being commoditized, but skills of engagement are still uniquely human. It’s all how you sell, not what you sell.
These capabilities are in us. We can change our habits to build relationships. “Just think of what we’re being asked to do — to become more essentially human, to be the creatures we once were and were always meant to be.” — Geoff Colvin.