Will AI Replace You? The Rising Value of Authenticity in Sales
Will AI replace you? I was on an AI panel last week where this was the burning question on salespeople’s minds.
While we can’t stop the AI tsunami and its likelihood of replacing certain services and jobs, we don’t have to sit by and watch it happen. In fact, we’d be smart to take a proactive approach and sharpen our competitive edge. And right now, that competitive edge is your authenticity in sales.
Authenticity in Sales
Authenticity is a powerful trait that differentiates humans from machines. In a world filled with AI-generated content, customer service bots and deepfakes, genuine human authenticity becomes more valuable. While AI may excel at efficiency and automation, it lacks that authentic human touch and connection that people crave. As AI and technology continue to spread into every corner of our lives, I predict the need for human connection and authenticity will intensify.
Authenticity helps us form connections, the lifeblood of sales. Think back to the isolation in those early COVID months and how important those Zoom lifelines became. Even our most stoic customers were delighted to see us on their screens! As we returned to more in-person interactions all anyone could talk about was how much they had missed that level of human connection.
While there are certainly tasks and jobs where a human connection is not required or valued, like buying stamps or even groceries, it’s surprising how many jobs still exist that could be replace by AI. For example, we don’t “need” a barista to make our coffee, but many of us enjoy the experience of chatting with them and others at the local coffee shop. I don’t “need” a real instructor to guide me on my Peloton rides, but I sure as heck am not going to put in the same effort for an AI simulation!
Authenticity and Emotional Intelligence
Humans possess the unique ability to understand and empathize with each other, fulfilling that basic human need to feel understood. While AI can read certain obvious signals, it struggles to catch and interpret the nuances of human emotion and behavior with great accuracy or emotional satisfaction. In fact, I can think of few things less “emotionally satisfying” than a bot trying to console me after the offer on my dream home was rejected!
When it comes to important buying decisions, like financial or legal advice, a home or major technology the authentic human touch gives customers reassurance and confidence that has yet to be replicated by AI. And when it comes to fields where emotions run high, like counseling, healthcare, and real estate, the ability to express compassion, comfort and confidence are highly valued.
Authenticity and Trust
Trust and authenticity are essential for any relationship – personal or business. It’s also very fragile. If you are unsure of someone’s motives – whether that someone is a real salesperson or an AI bot – or you feel like they are hiding something, or their words and behavior are incongruent, trust dissolves.
Many behaviors that help build trust are deeply ingrained, like making direct eye contact, and are not easily replicated by AI. And when they try to “pass it off” these uniquely human behaviors as real, people feel tricked and betrayed, throwing your credibility and authenticity right out the window! Check out the video below for an example:
The Future is Bright…ish
I am optimistic about the future for salespeople who embrace their humanity and authentic connections. Especially in person sales, where you’ve had a lifetime of practicing and refining your ability to connect with others. However, if you work at all in the virtual world, you need to be able to bring that same level of in-person connection and authenticity to the screen to compete with AI.
Are you Virtually Authentic?
Many sellers (and most people) do not convey the same uniquely human qualities on video that they easily do when face-to-face. Key qualities like authenticity, credibility and empathy and confidence that connect you with buyers. Whether it’s due to a lack of awareness of how the camera distorts, misreads or misses these social cues, engaging in virtual behaviors that diminish their authenticity (see below), or simply being uncomfortable in front of a camera, the reason is irrelevant.
When the qualities that make a seller “human” and make buyers feel connected, confident and understood are lacking, the more sellers will be replaceable with AI.
Virtual Behaviors that Put You at Risk
- Lack of sufficient eye contact
- Reading from a script or slides
- Sounding or looking like you’re reading from a script or slides
- A lack of emotion or expression
- Obviously phony virtual backgrounds, green screens that magnify movement and create missing body parts.
As AI and technology continue to advance, I believe the need for human connection and the value of authenticity in sales will only grow. But in order to gain this competitive advantage, you have to be more than a virtual robot. You have to adapt for the camera so that you can convey all the great authentic parts of yourself that your buyers will connect with. If you want to learn more about how to do that, check out the Virtual Presence for Sales Pros Course, Coaching and Training below!
Develop Your Virtual Executive Presence!
Do you want to be a more effective and credible leader or influencer in virtual meetings, one-on-one conversations, and videos? Would you like to be able to speak with confidence on camera – whether you can see your audience or not? Our Virtual Executive Presence Training programs provide you with the unique skillset you need to succeed in a virtual and hybrid world. Learn more about group and individual programs here.