What’s the one thing computers will never do better than salespeople?

Terrifying science-fiction movie scenarios aside, computers still cannot think. Yes, a computer named Watson won the Jeopardy challenge in 2011. But thinking requires a lot more than memorizing and regurgitating facts. (Sorry, Watson).

While technology is great for storing, aggregating and, to some degree, interpreting information, it can’t have conversations, ask insightful questions or draw wisdom from experience. Computers cannot do what is essentially human: create, innovate, tell riveting stories. And they cannot empathize with your prospects. That’s why all the automated sales and marketing tools in the world will never be able to match a knowledgeable, experienced, understanding salesperson.

Smarter than the average algorithm. The problem is that we become so enamored with technology that we forget it’s only a tool to make human beings more effective. Computers might be better at math, but they can’t come close to what the human being can accomplish in terms of creativity and innovation.

Walter Isaacson, the CEO of Aspen Institute and Steve Jobs’ biographer, examines the relationship between man and machine in his article “The One Thing Computers Will Never Be Able to Do.” He writes, “We humans can remain relevant in an era of cognitive computing because we are able to think different, something that an algorithm, almost by definition, can’t master. We possess an imagination that, as Ada Lovelace said, ‘brings together things, facts, ideas, conceptions in new, original, endless, ever-varying combinations.’” We can discern patterns and appreciate their beauty. We can weave information into narratives.

Isaacson explains how great thinkers, such as Steve Jobs, Leonardo da Vinci, Einstein and Mozart, understood the symbiosis between beauty and science, between art and innovation. In his words, “the most creative innovations of the digital age came from those who were able to connect the arts and sciences.”

Winning in today’s business world means leveraging technology while simultaneously learning how to keep it in its place. Remember that technology is only a tool; our greatest sales asset is and always will be ourselves.

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Joanne Black is a professional sales speaker, sales webinar leader, and author of ‘No More Cold Calling: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust” from Warner Business Books. Visit www.nomorecoldcalling.com. © Copyright 2011 Joanne S. Black. All rights reserved.