The future is here.
Despite sounding like some radical vision of the future, the use of cyborgs in day-to-day business is already here. Cyborg-driven sales teams are outperforming their analog counterparts several times over, and top-performing B2B companies are realizing that the future of sales is neither 100% human nor 100% technology-driven. Savvy brands are turning their field sales staff into cyborgs by outfitting them with powerful mobile technology solutions that boost them to a previously unimaginable level of productivity and efficiency.
But, wait. Cyborgs?
What the heck is a cyborg, anyway? We’re not talking about a robot army of automated sales reps — a cyborg is simply a human whose abilities have been augmented by technology. According to Amber Case, we're all cyborgs. After all, how many of us feel at times like our mobile phone is an extension of us?
Right now it’s man vs. machine, and neither are winning.
A human sales team is great for many reasons. When something goes wrong and a customer has a complaint, it is far better to have that customer interact with a human who possesses understanding and empathy rather than sending the customer to a phone tree. A human sales rep can develop and maintain personal relationships with customers and build on new and existing connections in a way that a software solution could never do.
Still, human resources are costly, and much more prone to errors. Computers can do things faster and more accurately. A fully automated approach is often more efficient, but many industries rely on the human element to get things done. There’s no perfect answer — no all-technology solution will do everything that humans can do, but technology clearly provides a competitive advantage in many cases, specifically custom software and apps designed for your industry and market.
And that’s where things start to get weird.
There was an article a couple of years ago in The Atlantic about cyborg call centers. In this example, as an effort to bridge the gap between human ability and technological efficiency, human workers in the Philippines push buttons to play pre-recorded messages on a computerized system. That means customers on the phone think they are interacting with a human, but they’re really interacting with a hybrid human-computer interface. This helps eliminate the language barrier and chance of a sales representative misspeaking or making inaccurate claims. It’s not like reading from a script and it’s not an entirely pre-recorded message, either. This kind of setup might work well for call centers, but not for the nuances of a very complex B2B sale
The solution is easier than you think.
Hire the best sales reps you can, then equip them with the best technology to make them more efficient. Businesses are creating custom technology solutions in the form of mobile apps and web interfaces to connect the dots between powerful backend systems and humans in the field. This means sales reps can carry your business with them in their pocket on their mobile devices. Today’s smartphones have more computing power than all of NASA when it successfully landed astronauts on the moon.
This all sounds great, but how does it work in practice?
BlueLine Rental is a company that rents commercial construction and other heavy equipment to jobsites around the US and Canada.
Like most sales teams, they face an increasingly competitive marketplace that demands quotes be delivered in a rapid and accurate manner. A single quote could take several minutes. Now, equipped with the a single app paired with cloud technology, sales reps can generate and deliver quotes in under 60 seconds. When a customer is focused on response time and accuracy thousands of times a day, this is a differentiator.
By making yourself more productive and efficient, you create a better experience for customers.
Nobody wants to lose their job to a robot. Why put yourself in the position to lose business to a cyborg sales team? By making yourself more productive and efficient, you create a better experience for customers, who in turn see you as the obvious choice for their business.
It’s time to bridge the gap between your human sales force and the off-the-shelf solution your IT department is forcing you to adopt. There’s a reason those software solutions are popular, but a custom solution tailored to you, your industry, and your sales model will make you even more productive by bringing out the best in both man and machine.