The Sales Blog https://thesalesblog.com Anthony Iannarino Wed, 23 May 2018 15:38:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 If you want to learn the most current and powerful sales techniques and mindsets from the top professionals in the business, In The Arena is the place to find them. Host Anthony Iannarino is himself a successful and consummate sales professional with the know-how and experience to coach you on your way. But more than that he interviews the top authors, salesmen, sales managers, and experts in the fields of B2B and B2C sales to give you the edge you need to move your numbers and profit to the next level. In the Arena is for you. Find out more at http://TheSalesBlog.com Anthony Iannarino | Sales coach, Business coach, Sales professional, Author clean Anthony Iannarino | Sales coach, Business coach, Sales professional, Author iannarino@gmail.com iannarino@gmail.com (Anthony Iannarino | Sales coach, Business coach, Sales professional, Author) 2015 Anthony Iannarino Sales | Marketing | Sales Management | Success | Profits | Revenue from leading experts in the sales arena The Sales Blog http://thesalesblog.com/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/In_the_Arena_Logo.png https://thesalesblog.com If you want to learn the most current and powerful sales techniques and mindsets from the top professionals in the business, In The Arena is the place to find them. Host Anthony Iannarino is himself a successful and consummate sales professional with the know-how and experience to coach you on your way. But more than that he interviews the top authors, salesmen, sales managers, and experts in the fields of B2B and B2C sales to give you the edge you need to move your numbers and profit to the next level. In the Arena is for you. Find out more at http://TheSalesBlog.com Westerville, Ohio Weekly You Cannot Run Out of Ideas https://thesalesblog.com/2018/05/22/ideas/ Wed, 23 May 2018 01:33:41 +0000 https://thesalesblog.com/?p=58323 What follows is a true story. The client said to the salespeople sitting in his office, “Wait here, I have to run and get this project I need help with. Our current partner said they don’t have any ideas.” Their exiting supplier told them that they were at a complete loss for ideas. This incumbent […]

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What follows is a true story. The client said to the salespeople sitting in his office, “Wait here, I have to run and get this project I need help with. Our current partner said they don’t have any ideas.” Their exiting supplier told them that they were at a complete loss for ideas.

This incumbent is in deep trouble. The company—and the people who work there—need help, and their incumbent partner believes that they have no new ideas to share. Because they think they have no new ideas, it’s true for them. Moreover, without ideas, the incumbent partner is ripe for a competitive displacement. They have forced their client to look elsewhere for help by giving up on a problem that is surely not intractable.

One of the things that makes you consultative is your ideas. Ideas aren’t the same as what is now popularly called “insights,” those being mostly about making a compelling case that the client should—or must—change. Ideas are more about “how to change,” and “how to deal with this challenge” or “solve this problem.” The ability to generate new ideas, to think laterally, combining ideas from one domain with another, is an attribute that is necessary for success in sales (there is a full chapter on ideas in The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need titled Resourcefulness).

The other attributes and skills you need to develop to prevent your running out of ideas is business acumen, which is a general understanding of how businesses work.  That understanding can help you understand a problem and challenge and recognize potential ideas that are worth considering. Maybe even more important, however, is situational knowledge, the ability to see the patterns of what works, what doesn’t, and because you can draw from your experiences serving other clients and the people you serve within those companies.

Lately, there have a been a rash of young bucks on LinkedIn suggesting that one derives no value from reading business books. In their myopic view, they believe that anything that is known isn’t going to have value now, mistakenly believing that anything known is not disruptive enough. By eliminating ideas, they remove the ability to think laterally, to mix and match ideas from different domains, and to explore what might be possible. When you don’t read other people’s view and their account of their experiences, you deprive yourself of the ability to connect the dots. If you have to choose between being well and widely read or being poorly read, choose the former.

Fortunately, your brain does a pretty good job of ideation all the time, mostly when the ideas are challenging to capture, like when you are in the shower or driving. Sitting down with a legal pad and writing ideas down will help you come up with all kinds of new things to explore. Even better, putting an ideation task force together and locking yourself in a room with a whiteboard for two hours is likely to generate more ideas than you could execute. You need only one good one to solve your client’s most pressing challenge to go from “at risk of being displaced” to “strategic partner.” At least until your client is once again challenged, which should be shortly after you help solve the one you are working on now.

 

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On Being a Combative Diplomat https://thesalesblog.com/2018/05/21/on-being-a-combative-diplomat/ Tue, 22 May 2018 00:00:25 +0000 https://thesalesblog.com/?p=58299 Some time ago, I wrote here that the best salespeople I have ever seen were combative. Many times here I have written an incomplete idea that I found valuable, only to find a better way to share it later. The post you are reading now is another example of identifying more of the truth by […]

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Some time ago, I wrote here that the best salespeople I have ever seen were combative. Many times here I have written an incomplete idea that I found valuable, only to find a better way to share it later. The post you are reading now is another example of identifying more of the truth by sitting with an idea for a long time.

A Strong Point of View

The two words I have strung together don’t seem to go together too well. They seem to be conflicting ideas, and in fact, they are in some ways very much in conflict. However, the tension is what makes this an interesting pair—and a more useful idea. The word “combative” means eager to fight. Before you take too much offense, let’s remember that we often “fight for what’s right,” and “fight for what we care about.” The word “diplomat” means someone who is effective with other people when there is a conflict of some sort or another.

To be someone that other people look to for help and advice, you must possess a set of beliefs that point to some truth, some right answer, some course of action that is better than other choices. Not only do you have to suggest ideas that conflict with the ideas of the people you are advising, but that may also conflict with popular ideas and approaches. The “combative” part of “combative diplomat” means that you are going to advocate for what is right, i.e. fight for it. The “diplomat” means that you are going to do so with great consideration for the people you are serving as you are pushing for what you believe is necessary.

Conflicting Ideas

What makes the combative diplomat effective is that they approach conflict as an opportunity to collaborate. They approach others in a way that causes them to leave their hands at their sides, open to exploring an idea—without feeling that they have to raise their hands and protect themselves.

F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” If Fitzgerald is right, what is better than a first-rate intelligence is the ability to execute two conflicting ideas as an approach to helping others improve.

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Revenue is Vanity. Profit is Sanity. https://thesalesblog.com/2018/05/21/revenue-is-vanity-profit-is-sanity/ Mon, 21 May 2018 14:11:37 +0000 https://thesalesblog.com/2018/05/21/revenue-is-vanity-profit-is-sanity/ Revenue is important. But profit is even more important. It’s what sustains a business, and it is what fuels the investments that fuel growth.

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Revenue is important. But profit is even more important. It’s what sustains a business, and it is what fuels the investments that fuel growth.

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The Practicality of Being Positive https://thesalesblog.com/2018/05/20/the-practicality-of-being-positive/ Mon, 21 May 2018 02:19:29 +0000 https://thesalesblog.com/?p=58289 Being positive, optimistic, future-oriented, and empowered, is not about being happy. It’s about being effective. For as long as I can remember, my default setting has been happy but unsatisfied. That’s how I am wired; it’s my DNA. However, I don’t believe that being positive and optimistic is what will make you happy. The evidence, […]

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Being positive, optimistic, future-oriented, and empowered, is not about being happy. It’s about being effective.

For as long as I can remember, my default setting has been happy but unsatisfied. That’s how I am wired; it’s my DNA. However, I don’t believe that being positive and optimistic is what will make you happy. The evidence, as far as I can tell, suggests that it is something different that gives people a feeling of satisfaction with their life. That something is progress.

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The practicality of being positive is that it’s a more effective mindset than negative. A positive attitude allows you to produce better results, including the better results you produce for and with other people. There is no premium paid for possessing a negative attitude. Because a negative view doesn’t serve you, it’s impractical, expensive, and debilitating. Negativity is an anchor. It’s a drag on progress.

Believe in Eventually

When it comes to optimism, I look to Winston Churchill, who said, “Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” I know many people want to suggest that they’re a “realist.” That’s the excuse they manufacture so they don’t have to do what is necessary to make progress. It’s a way to absolve themselves of responsibility, and perhaps a way to prevent themselves from feeling bad when dealing with the failures that always precede progress. Optimism is practical. It’s a belief system that sustains your willingness to continue to make progress, succeeding eventually.

Do Today What You Want Tomorrow

The opposite of being future-oriented is being oriented to the “now” or to the past. I’ve personally studied with two Zen masters. I have a relatively well-developed sense of mindfulness. When I’m washing dishes, I can wash dishes. This is to say that your mind isn’t in either the future or the past, it’s in the flow state giving yourself over to whatever it is that you are doing. This is different from having a “now” orientation. A now-orientation for most people means that they seek comfort and entertainment now, rather than doing the work necessary to make progress on the things that will give them the life that they want. Having an orientation towards the past is even worse because it mostly allows for people to tell a story about why they can’t do what they need to do. It was the fact that they didn’t get to go to college. It’s the fact that their parents got divorced. It’s the fact that they never had a good leader at work. These are facts. But what they mean is being misinterpreted and misapplied.

A future orientation assumes the need to make progress. It means you to do what is necessary for you to have what you want tomorrow.

You: Unchained

All of this is about empowerment. You don’t need to wait for anyone to empower you. It’s a decision that you make. It takes only a split second to make that decision and everything changes. When you take ownership of your life, every part of your life, even the most difficult parts of your life, you are now empowered to make progress. There is nothing more practical than taking responsibility, or as I sometimes put it, “Everything is your fault.” Some people read that as a negative statement and suggest that goes too far. Not everything can be their fault. If you’re not making progress, you are not exercising your power.

Progress comes slowly sometimes, with an occasional breakthrough. It sometimes requires two steps backward before you can move forward. But it never comes if you don’t do the work.

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There Is No Buyer’s Journey in B2B Sales. There Are Journeys. https://thesalesblog.com/2018/05/19/there-is-no-buyers-journey-in-b2b-sales-there-are-journeys/ Sun, 20 May 2018 00:51:14 +0000 https://thesalesblog.com/?p=58280 Dave Brock writes an excellent piece on the hyper-focus on buyer’s journeys here. Here is another reason one must be careful in the way they use this concept. The traditional idea of a buyer’s journey starts with awareness, then moves to interest, then to consideration, then to purchase, then re-purchase. If you want to throw […]

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Dave Brock writes an excellent piece on the hyper-focus on buyer’s journeys here. Here is another reason one must be careful in the way they use this concept.

The traditional idea of a buyer’s journey starts with awareness, then moves to interest, then to consideration, then to purchase, then re-purchase. If you want to throw in other stages, like “delight” or “evangelist,” you won’t be the first or last to do so.

I’ve always believed that the buyer starts when they are unhappy enough about something that they are compelled to change, at which point they start to explore what they might do differently, explore their choices, resolve their concerns, and then decide. Now, we compel that change by helping them to recognize the greater results available to them. We do that by helping them recognize and the dissonance they are experiencing.

Whatever the process, you are likely to see it displayed as starting on the left side of a PowerPoint slide and progressing towards the right side of the slide. The way that the journey is displayed indicates that it is a linear process, and that it progresses from one stage to the next, each moving the buyer closer to a purchase. But the truth is that the buyer’s journey is non-linear, and in B2B sales, the non-linearity is non-linear (which is to say, it’s a mess)

One contact inside your dream client company is unhappy with the results they’re producing. You can call this pain or dissatisfaction, or maybe it’s just dissonance, something just not working right without being understood. But her peers don’t agree that there is anything wrong, nor are they close to being compelled to do anything about the dissonance she’s experiencing.

Two levels above her, the senior leadership team is not only unaware that there is a compelling reason to do something different, it isn’t something that is going to make their priority list if they were aware. The leadership team is working on what they believe to be their two most strategic initiatives.

There is no buyer’s journey in B2B sales. There are buyer’s journeys (plural). Not every constituency within a company is going to be neatly aligned with the main contact, or what I call the CEO of the Problem. Not all stakeholders are going to reach the same point in their journey at the same time, and this process isn’t one that is easily managed or controlled. The misalignment, disagreements, and resistance to management make this a difficult challenge for salespeople—and the people trying to pursue change.

I dedicated a chapter to this concept in The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need titled Managing Change. I also included a chapter in The Lost Art of Closing on Building Consensus. If what you sell requires consensus and requires the support of different constituencies, knowing that the process is non-linear, meaning that it isn’t likely a straight line, and knowing that it’s non-linear between individuals and departments gives you a fighting chance of finding a path to consensus – even if you have to slow down the hard chargers and work on bringing the laggards up to speed.

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Sales Doesn’t Need to Become a Profession. It Already Is. https://thesalesblog.com/2018/05/18/sales-doesnt-need-to-become-a-profession-it-already-is/ Fri, 18 May 2018 14:49:31 +0000 https://thesalesblog.com/?p=58273 Sales does not need to become a profession. Sales already is a profession. Even if there are not hundreds of university courses. Even if there are not degree programs on professional selling. Even if there is wild disagreement as to what would make sales an actual profession, like a doctor, lawyer, or certified public accountant. […]

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Sales does not need to become a profession. Sales already is a profession. Even if there are not hundreds of university courses. Even if there are not degree programs on professional selling. Even if there is wild disagreement as to what would make sales an actual profession, like a doctor, lawyer, or certified public accountant.

There are thousands of people who get an MBA (Master’s of Business Administration) as part of their professional development as a manager. Does that impact the quality of managers? Are all managers that go through a professional course better managers for having done so? Or, are some managers far better than others, even without the degrees? Is someone somehow more virtuous, more moral, or even more effective because they have a certificate that says they are certified?

Doctors are professionals. So are lawyers. So are accountants. All of these are so-called professions. Just because all doctors are required to go to school for more years than almost any other profession does not mean there’s an improvement in the professionalism of the field generally. The effectiveness is distributed in the form of a bell curve, with some being exceptional, some abysmal, and most something close to average. This is true, even though they took the course and got the sheepskin.

Whether or not something is your profession is a personal decision you make. It’s a continuous development and honing of your craft. It’s the commitment to excellence and how you go about your work in the outcomes you produce. It’s the intentional decision to be a professional. The diploma, the certification, or the professional organization does no more to make you a professional then the ticking alarm clock gave the Tin Man a heart. You are a professional because you believe and behave as if you are one. Nothing more is needed

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The Salesperson is Dead. Long Live the Salesperson. https://thesalesblog.com/2018/05/17/the-salesperson-is-dead-long-live-the-salesperson/ Thu, 17 May 2018 13:39:49 +0000 https://thesalesblog.com/?p=58268 Have Amazon.com and other companies that mostly sell without salespeople proven that salespeople are necessary? Has the internet replaced the salesperson, providing more and better information than a human salesperson? Do people prefer to buy without the help of a salesperson, even when a decision comes with complexity and risk? Does all this technology suggest that […]

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Have Amazon.com and other companies that mostly sell without salespeople proven that salespeople are necessary? Has the internet replaced the salesperson, providing more and better information than a human salesperson? Do people prefer to buy without the help of a salesperson, even when a decision comes with complexity and risk? Does all this technology suggest that salespeople are now unnecessary?

You have to believe a lot of assumptions to believe that salespeople will soon disappear.

Assumes knowledge: To believe that salespeople are going to disappear, you must also assume that people have the necessary knowledge to know what they need to do and what choices may be available to them. “But, Iannarino,” you say, “they can search the internet.” And you would be correct and wrong at the same time. What Google query do you enter when you want to know what it is that you don’t know you don’t know?

Assumes understanding tradeoffs: Is this choice better than that choice in my situation? Some of the information I have gathered conflicts with other information I’ve found. Which information is right? Which tradeoffs make the most sense for me now? Assuming that people want to make decisions by themselves runs counter to how humans have made decisions for a long time. When decisions are important, people seek counsel. They seek wisdom. They do this after they have information.

Assumes the right solutions: Are all solutions available, configured, and tailored for every application? Do they all come with a built-in understanding of every complex process or system in which they are going to be installed? Do they all automatically know why one stakeholder is going to benefit from what one buys while another stakeholder in the same company will be crippled by the decision? Most of what salespeople who work for companies that have customer intimacy find collaboration and customization to be critical to building the right solution.

Assumes one doesn’t want or need help: Some people believe that because they keep their own counsel (like the man who acts as his own lawyer and has a fool for a client), they believe no one else wants help with important decisions. But it’s not true. A lot of people like to hear from people who have knowledge—and wisdom—in the areas in which they need to make decisions. In the future, it is not likely that people will abandon this practice.

Assumes one can convince others: Because more and more decisions are made by consensus, to believe a salesperson will be obsolete to the buying process is to believe that one person is going to search the internet, find the information they need, chat with a bot, and convince the 16 people who are going to be affected by the decision that person makes. It assumes that this person will be able to sell her peers, even when outside opinions often weigh more than the opinions of the people who work for the company.

Assumes concerns are resolved: How many times have you set out to buy something online and abandoned your shopping cart? The reason you bailed is that you had unresolved concerns. For some reason, more information did not resolve your concerns. You didn’t need information. You need to know that you were going to get the outcome you wanted, that what you bought was going to work, and that you were making a good decision. What is that technology didn’t supply?

If all you can do is transact, then all that is needed is a transaction. The role of a salesperson is diminishing. But when this is not the case, the salesperson is going to have a role for a long time into the future, even if the nature of the role changes, and even if they are aided by greater technology.

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Without a Sales Leader https://thesalesblog.com/2018/05/16/without-sales-leader/ Wed, 16 May 2018 13:01:55 +0000 https://thesalesblog.com/?p=58264 You can try to run a sales organization without a sales leader, but you will never generate the results you are capable of without one. All of the problems and challenges that will prevent you from acquiring clients and growing your revenue will stem from the lack of a leader. It isn’t a good idea […]

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You can try to run a sales organization without a sales leader, but you will never generate the results you are capable of without one. All of the problems and challenges that will prevent you from acquiring clients and growing your revenue will stem from the lack of a leader. It isn’t a good idea to try to build a sales organization without having a leader in place.

You can build a sales process designed to help you compel change, create value for your dream clients, and win new business. Without a leader to help salespeople learn, follow, and make adjustments to that process, the process is meaningless, worthless. With a leader, a process can provide an excellent framework for winning new deals.

If you want to hire people without providing them a leader, you may as well take the money you would spend on that sales force, pour gasoline on the money, strike a match, and burn the money. Without a leader to set priorities, to set the cadence, to coach and develop them, salespeople will not perform to their true capacity. With a leader, you will have a sales force with priorities, an operating rhythm, and a coach who will improve their skills—and their results.

Maybe you will do others have done before you, try to change the process, train the sales force, install a new methodology, or maybe fire the whole sales force and start over. Doing any or all of these will leave you exactly where these decisions have left the entrepreneurs and executive leaders who tried to change everything instead of hiring a leader. They were left in the same place as where they started, namely, lacking a sales leader.

It is important to get things in the right order. Without providing the sales force with the leadership they need, you are not giving them a fair chance to succeed. Nor are you giving yourself that same chance. Hire the leader first, and then work on building around them.

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If You Are Bored, Challenge Yourself https://thesalesblog.com/2018/05/15/if-you-are-bored-challenge-yourself/ Wed, 16 May 2018 02:03:41 +0000 https://thesalesblog.com/?p=58260 A lot of people complain about being bored at work. They suggest the reason they’re bored is the nature of the work. That is to place the responsibility for your level of engagement on something external, instead of recognizing that it is internal.  How you feel about your work is a decision. The difference between work […]

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A lot of people complain about being bored at work. They suggest the reason they’re bored is the nature of the work. That is to place the responsibility for your level of engagement on something external, instead of recognizing that it is internal.  How you feel about your work is a decision. The difference between work being boring and work that engages you—or even inspires you—is your willingness to bring your best self to that work.

If you decide to make any project or task a passion project, giving yourself over that work, that work will not be boring. By the very nature of the energy you bring the work, it simply cannot be boring. Your effort, your energy, and your imagination are the variables when it comes to the quality of the work—and whether or not you are bored.

The fact that you infuse the project with your talents and energies magically transforms something that might have been boring into something spectacular. Or maybe even better than spectacular, maybe something exceptional. It could set a new bar for what good looks like.

The more challenging the project, the more interesting it becomes. If a project causes you to stretch and grow to obtain some outcome, it cannot be boring. This is true even if what you’re doing is not your favorite thing to do. The truth of the matter is much more in line with what Martin Luther King said:

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

The Buddhists would agree with Dr. King but say it in a different way. They would tell you that how you do anything is how you do everything.

If the work is not challenging, then change the outcome to set a new standard that others will struggle to follow. Raise the bar on yourself and do work that is extraordinary. If you are bored, challenge yourself.

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If You Believe You Will Be Disintermediated by Technology, I Agree. https://thesalesblog.com/2018/05/14/if-you-believe-you-will-be-disintermediated-by-technology-i-agree/ Mon, 14 May 2018 17:51:06 +0000 https://thesalesblog.com/?p=58251 If you believe that you will soon be disintermediated by technology, I agree with you; you will be disintermediated by technology. If you believe that you cannot greater value than a technological solution, then you are certain to lose to technology. If you see technology as a threat to your role, you are already lagging […]

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If you believe that you will soon be disintermediated by technology, I agree with you; you will be disintermediated by technology.

If you believe that you cannot greater value than a technological solution, then you are certain to lose to technology. If you see technology as a threat to your role, you are already lagging here.

If you believe that people will prefer to buy from a computer pretending to be a person than from you, you are probably correct. Maybe you’re not a people person. Maybe you don’t even like people. Maybe people who prefer not to deal with people who are trying to take advantage of them will feel differently about an algorithm programmed with the same intention that caused the stereotype that still plagues salespeople now.

If in your heart of hearts, you know that you lack the resourcefulness, the imagination, and the creativity to help people generate new ideas, technology just might be a better decision than choosing you. If you are not a creative resource, the technology to transact is already moving ahead of you.

If the best you can do for another person is replicate what technology can already do, you are going to find it very difficult to create any real, compelling, differentiated value. If you don’t provide a reason to choose you, there is no reason to choose you. You are now the value proposition.  That means your value prop must beat an algorithm.

If caring about other people, being thoughtful, and being proactive is beyond any commitment you might make as it pertains to serving others, then you are missing the same things that technology is missing, namely humanity.

Since the beginning of our time on Earth, people charged with making decisions have always turned to trusted advisors for help. The trusted advisor now and in the future will be aided by artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data. But more than just being a flatlander, they will possess the wisdom necessary to make good decisions, adding the subjective context to the decision they help to shape.

Those who believe they will be disintermediated most certainly will be. Those who believe they will not be replaced by a technology will find a very similar role to the role they have now available to them in the future. A few of us may, in fact, help you shape the decision as to what to automate, how to program your artificial intelligence, and from whom you should buy this exciting new technology.

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

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