Experts have suggested that the next few decades will herald the fourth industrial revolution. The fourth industrial revolution will be powered by digitalization, information and communications technology, machine learning, robotics, and artificial intelligence. More decision-making will occur from machines rather than humans. The ensuing societal changes will have a profound impact on both personal selling and sales management research and practices.
In this article, we will focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) and their impact on personal selling and sales management.
Focus on Artificial Intelligence – Sales and Advantages
In the Artificial Intelligence Economy we can note an increasing interest in the rapid rise of the sharing economy, from both academicians and practitioners.
Recent research has focused primarily on the relationship between sharing economy firms (service enablers) and customers (thanks to A.I.). Moreover, service enablers have primarily collocated their resources to acquire a critical mass of customers. This demonstrates a balanced two-sided customer relationship approach toward the dynamics of this triadic business model (service enabler – service provider – customer). To maintain this emerging economy’s fast-growth pace, service enablers should strive to acquire, retain, and win back profitable service providers and customers simultaneously.
I propose a conceptual strategic framework for the development of service providers and customers considering multigenerational aspects based on inferences from the literature, popular press, and interviews with members of the triad in the sharing economy. Based on this investigation, the sharing economy services are mostly adopted by Generation Y, whereas other generations are still in the early phase of adoption. Additionally, customer and service provider churn is high. I argue that this double-sided customer relationship framework will help firms take appropriate measures to keep all the actors involved in the process satisfied, loyal, and profitable in the long run.
The nature of professional selling has been transformed profoundly over the last few decades resulting in a fundamental redefinition of the role of the sales force.
Despite this evolution, there has been a recognition of the relevance of ‘traditional’ sales approaches, resulting in increasing polarization between transactional and strategic or consultative selling.
Drawing on interview data with senior sales leaders, sales consultants and prominent sales academics, I show three key drivers for change and identify a set of core transformations sales forces are undergoing: The composition of the offer that suppliers bring to customers, the nature of the relationships between suppliers and customers, and the configuration of sales organisations and the role of sales people.
The paper reveals the need to reconcile disparate approaches to managing sales forces if sales professionals are to become genuine enablers of customer development.
It outlines the tensions that underpin the management of both transactional and strategic selling, suggesting the adoption of ambidexterity and paradoxical leadership in the management of modern sales organizations.