Book Review of Sales Ex Machina by Victor Antonio
I was excited when I saw that Victor Antonio had chosen to author a book on Artificial Intelligence for sales. No trend promises to disrupt and change the face of the sales industry more than machine learning and artificial intelligence. I think that makes Sales Ex Machina one of the most important sales books of 2018. Inside Sales Ex Machina you’ll discover where AI is most poised to disrupt the selling industry and most importantly – how you can leverage AI yourself to become a more effective sales professional.
The Science & Application of AI
Sales Ex Machina comes in two parts:
- The Science of AI, and
- AI Applications
In the Science of AI we learn about what AI is, how it works and what it is capable of. It’s important to get your head around where AI can be used, where it will disrupt and where you can expect to see it most in the future.
In AI Applications we take dive into the AI applications that are here right now as well as some that are on the verge of hitting mainstream. This is important because we learn what sales functions are destined to give way to AI and which ones we can leverage best for ourselves.
Are Robots Coming for Your Job?
A big concern that has made some headlines is that AI is going to take salespeople’s jobs. I recently had the privilege to see some of the work being done by IBM’s BlueWolf division and Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning is far more capable than most people realize. I can tell you that order-taker sales jobs are definitely at risk. Call center positions that field a few questions and then take an order or transfer to someone who can are not long for this earth. Victor Antonio makes this same point in Sales Ex Machina but then goes on to discuss something much more interesting and important.
There are a number of alarmists that are suggesting that all sales is at risk of being replaced by AI. This is an extreme overstatement. I love Victor Antonio, and one of the things I like best about him is that he puts the science into selling. Absolutely everything he says is backed by science. He also manages to make that science entertaining. And rather than lumping all sales together and suggesting they will all be affected, in Sales Ex Machina Vic does what he always does – he gets scientific about it.
Breaking Down the Tasks that Represent Selling
What Vic does is break down the tasks that we as sales professionals must perform to be successful. Some are glamorous. Many are less so. Then with this defined list, he illustrates what can be handled by a machine and what cannot. With this valuable insight you can more clearly see that professional selling is going to become more automated – not replaced. Do you want to know what skills you should be maximizing? Get the book. This section alone is worth the price of the book. I found it very valuable. It made me want to seek out AI tools to help me.
The Dawn of Machines is Here
The remainder of the book is a look at the tools that are available here and now to help us as sales professionals. This is where I fully transitioned mentally from from seeing AI as a potential threat to something I could use myself to get an edge on my competition. There are many tools available right now to help us. Some of the key areas that AI can help us include:
- Sorting & prioritizing leads with much higher effectiveness
- Automating email response in a much more timely, tailored and human way (yes you read that right)
- Responding to general inquires via telephone or on-line
- Generating reports
- Scheduling meetings & travel
- Developing tailored proposals
- Analyzing RFPs
- Pricing (exciting stuff here)
- Identifying leading indicators and intent data
Potential to Get an Edge
For professionals today there are practical applications that leverage the magic of machine learning and AI right now. Sales Ex Machina represents a valuable way that sales professionals discover and understand the forces shaping our industry and how to leverage the disruption of artificial intelligence to get an edge now. Because it is so timely, I think Sales Ex Machina may be the most important sales book of 2018. What’s in this book will affect everyone in the profession of selling – period. I fully intend to adopt as much AI in my own business as possible because of it and and I recommend it to you heartily.
Until next time!