Let’s Talk

Monday, March 20, 2023

We often read about AI and how that technology will affect commonly understood jobs, with its powerful potential for doing the heavy lifting, communicating across workplace functions, and influencing complex creative arts, like writing, illustrating, and filming. While learning about AI and how it may alter elements in our lives, I consider what’s lacking at a very human level and is fixable.

My thoughts are about selling skills which are becoming a lost art. Selling is communicating; today, that seems to be happening too little in customer-oriented environments. I work for a large building and home supplies retailer and will illustrate using some personal buying experiences.

I was seeking a battery-powered sander. The salesperson recommended a tool that would work but didn’t include a battery. Upon my request, the salesperson pointed me to a standalone battery/charger package. I bought the tool and battery, but driving home, I thought about not being asked if I could use another tool, one packaged with a battery that could drive both devices. Possible additional sales lost.

On another occasion, seeking a battery-operated tool, a salesperson directed me to one that didn’t include a battery. Upon my request, that person showed me a packaged battery. On arriving home and examining my purchases, I didn’t see an included battery charger. The salesperson had not asked if I needed a charger.

Selling is all about communicating. It’s about asking questions. What’s the intended project, what materials may be needed, and is there an adequate working plan? Questions open a world of advising, coaching, and selling possibilities. A salesperson taking time to communicate with a customer initiates a relationship. Even without a sale on the spot, communicating invites a customer to return for assistance from a helpful salesperson.

We all have experienced similar situations; examples are in the millions. What puzzles me is the ballyhoo about new technologies and their potential to improve worker performance. I ask, what has happened to good old-fashioned training? If workplace performance equates to dollars, why aren’t companies providing better job training and incorporating the invaluable attribute of communicating?

Humans who do less than necessary in their jobs, and perhaps even as little as possible, are forcing more AI technology usage in workplaces. However, AI never will replace people and couldn’t because communicating well is the key to optimal outcomes. Instead, companies must train employees more thoroughly and teach them how to converse with customers to explore their needs.

Dear Friends: Here’s another rant from an old-school former sales trainer. Diana

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