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The New Vision: Human-First Sales

By Sasanka Atapattu

The Evolution of Sales

Sales 2.0 was about diversifying selling tactics to incorporate inbound marketing and a more consultative approach to sales. As Sales 2.0 has taken hold in the last decade, we’ve also seen an ever more rapidly growing industry of sales technology: automation tools, artificial intelligence, productivity trackers, and more. This rapid shift to using technology has created a debate about the role of a modern seller and if they will be replaced.

At LaunchSource, we’ve helped hundreds of BDRs find their place on inside sales teams at fast growing tech startups in Boston and NYC. We’ve worked with those startups to help them hire faster, ramp reps more effectively, and keep them on board for longer. This year, we hired our own BDRs for the first time.

As I talk with and learn from our clients, other executives, and the LaunchSource Network, it has become apparent to me that we are entering a new era of sales. Move over Sales 2.0, and welcome to Human-First Sales.

Automation and AI

Automation tools are a double edged sword. You can send more emails, but so can every other company. And it’s not just emails- you can reach prospects across multiple channels of phone calls, direct messaging, and social media. However, so can everyone else. Prospects are inundated.

Artificial Intelligence is far more limited than that industry would have us believe. Think about how often you see an ad for a product you just purchased and clearly won’t need to look at again for some time, like a couch. Are these the same algorithms you’re trusting to predict the best product solution for a prospect, or even the best time of day to send an email?

As BDRs search for a way to stand out in the noise, foregrounding the human elements of sales emerges as the only remaining solution.

Even the best automation tools will let emails slip through with a detail that makes it apparent an actual person never read the email that was sent. Cookie cutter emails with a few tailored phrases or words plugged in might get past spam filters, but they won’t get past the actual human reading them on the other end.

An algorithm that can observe and learn from a prospect’s email habits can try to make behavioral predictions, but human behavior is by nature a bit unpredictable. That algorithm can’t read between the lines or truly listen to a prospect- not in the way that a person can listen to understand and listen to empathize.

Tools are Just That, Tools

Tools can help with volume, but real people will see through that real quick. Tools can also help with research and personalization, but true personalization is done by an actual person, one prospect at a time, with thought and care.

Here at LaunchSource, our BDRs are making custom memes for each prospect based on researching their interests and work experience. Does it take longer? Sure, but the response rate is also a lot higher. This is the type of thing that Frank Cinque, our Senior Manager of Business Development, imparts on our BDRs as part of the constant training and teaching he dedicates time to each day.

Prospects notice the time and effort that went into those emails. They notice when BDRs do the things that don’t scale or maybe aren’t the most efficient in terms of process, but are successful in terms of building an authentic human connection.

For every tool that is invented to help BDRs fire off more emails, another one will rise up to help prospects protect their inboxes from those emails. Blindly embracing tools in the name of quantity and productivity is a recipe for getting ignored.

The tools are here to augment humans, not to replace them. It will be the BDRs who master the human skills of networking and emotional intelligence who will build a foundation of success in sales.

Those BDRs will be a familiar face when they send that LinkedIn connection request, because they met their prospect in person at an event. They will be the BDRs who build enough rapport with prospects to create champions waiting in the wings for when the time is right for a deal instead of angry prospects who never want to see another email from your company.

Human-First Sales is about quality over quantity. It’s about recognizing that the biggest thing in common between salespeople and buyers is that they are human. It’s about understanding that in a digital age, every experience has an online and an offline component.

We’re bringing human-centered design to sales and to the tech industry. Our platform is about more than technology, it’s about community.

With the Candidate Report, Interview Day, and online and offline learning experiences, technology might provide the structure but the people and face to face interactions are what make the platform. In 2019, we intend to continue to redefine the way companies hire, ramp, and develop early-career sales talent. We’ll be tapping into our network to drive the research, design, and development of product experiences that blend the online and the offline, allowing technology to do what it does best: supporting our philosophy of Human-First Sales.


Over the next few weeks, I look forward to meeting with sales leadership at our client companies to learn more about how we can continue to help them be successful in our shared mission of hiring and developing the new generation of sales talent.

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