Five Mistakes in the Implementation of New Technologies (AI) in Sales
Introducing new technologies for B2B sales is not always easy. In this article, you will learn which mistakes you should avoid.
Joachim Meyn has many years of experience in B2B sales and has managed many projects in the area of CRM implementation. The following five mistakes when implementing new technologies are based on his experience.
This article is closely linked to my article on the acceptance of new technologies in sales.
This article applies not only to introducing new technologies in sales but also to introducing significant innovations or restructurings in all departments. In many companies, such processes run pretty smoothly, while in others, problems are on all fronts, and resistance is forming everywhere.
The sales department is merely particularly sensitive in this area, which could be since the sales department is particularly often affected, and new technologies and restructurings are not always to the advantage of the sales department and often enough (can) lead to loss of income.
Sales is one of the most expensive departments in the company – even though I have the impression that costs for administration and bureaucracy are increasingly exceeding sales costs. Rarely do changes in the sales department bring work relief, so most people who have worked in sales for many years are “burnt children” and do not expect anything good.
Surprisingly, this can usually be traced back to errors in communication and a lack of trust in the management level and from the management level to the employees. And the same mistakes are repeated over and over again at the management level.
Past mistakes that have led to a lack of trust in management cannot be corrected, only avoided in the future.
But what are now the most common mistakes when introducing new technologies?
1) Decision from Above, without Involving the Affected Employees.
That is undoubtedly the most common mistake. What happens if you order a new technology or restructuring by “Order de Mufti”? For small things, usually nothing. For serious changes:
– Open or silent resistance, up to and including internal resignation.
– Partially hidden sabotage of the project
– Open resignations
– And worst of all, not using the know-how of the affected employees. In all the cases I have experienced, employees could have provided plenty of input to make the project fly. Employees are stuck in the day-to-day operations and details. Employees often know what data they want to have to derive measures from it or what processes could be streamlined because they are too bureaucratic. It is crazy not to use this know-how.
– Often enough, a project, such as the introduction of new software, completely ignores the needs of the employees.
2) The organizational change or new technology only serves to monitor employees further.
Once asked quite cynically, “If you don’t trust your employees, why did you hire them?” And immediately, the second question, “If you don’t trust your employees, why should they trust you?”
In some companies, I have experienced ever-increasing surveillance of employees. At times, it had something of paranoia about it. Some of this goes beyond the limits in Germany, with keyloggers and programs being installed that take a photo every few minutes, count keystrokes, and so on. That is not conducive to employee motivation, quite the opposite. The results are similar to the above:
– Bypassing or tricking monitoring on the PC.
– Inner resignation
– Mistrust towards the managers and the company
– A high employee fluctuation
In such companies, home office is often not possible either, because there is a general attitude that employees do not work in home office – they have to be under constant supervision. What are the reasons for this mistrust? Alarming experiences, or are some managers making assumptions about others?
But there is another way because the experiences of companies with an open corporate culture based on trust are pretty positive.
3) The new technology puts the affected employees at a disadvantage.
Unfortunately, this is a widespread problem, especially in the sales environment. Customers are often diverted from sales to AI-supported call centres because they are too small for active sales support.
Of course, the measure itself is justified in an increasing number of cases – but Sales often do not receive fair compensation for the loss of these customers. That means that when companies introduce new technologies, they should also adjust reward systems to reflect changes in responsibilities.
You can be sure that employees will recognize unfair treatment or discrimination, and word of this will quickly spread throughout the company.
4) The new technology, e.g. AI systems, is praised as a “miracle weapon” instead of realistically presenting the opportunities and limitations.
Such an approach essentially spreads fear. Fear has never been a good motivator. It is precisely such exaggerated expectations, which are also communicated to employees, that fuel the fear of job loss.
With AI systems, in particular, this is not true. None of the AI systems in use today even have “intelligence” that can compete with us, humans.
AI systems are only far superior to humans in specialized areas, such as pattern recognition. However, they are only programmed for specific application problems and do not have the versatile abilities of a human being. Outside of its specialized area, an AI fails.
That means that a general AI, as broadly positioned as human intelligence, is still far off. That is where executives should demonstrate the possibilities and limitations of new technology. It is still true that technology serves people and not vice versa. Even the best AI system is a tool that supports people in their work, not a competitor.
5) The Computer Systems Control the People
Unfortunately, that is a common mistake. AI systems today can make suggestions about the next steps in customer contact, which customers are about to close – and which customers are about to jump ship. The more extensive the database, the more accurate these results are. Nevertheless, they are not absolute truths but probabilities.
Therefore, you should pay attention to them and usually act accordingly. Nevertheless, the experiences and instincts of a good salesman are not replaced by the systems, only supplemented. Therefore, human beings should always make the last decision. He will make mistakes, but even a 70% closing probability predicted by an AI system is only 70%, not 100%. Sometimes the salesperson knows more than the AI, e.g. if the customer only requests an alibi offer to place the order with the desired supplier anyway.
Five Mistakes in the Introduction of New Technologies (AI) in Sales – Conclusion:
In my eyes and according to my experiences, not involving the affected employees is the biggest mistake that companies constantly repeat.
Trust and communication are essential for success, especially between the management and the executing employees. Everything else leads to demotivation and, thus, to fluctuation and internal resignation.
Have you already had experience with the introduction of new technologies? What other mistakes should people avoid? Feel free to let us know in the comments!