Everyone is buzzing about Artificial Intelligence (AI), and how it will revolutionize sales productivity. By automatically handling time-consuming tasks such as logging emails and generating invoices, the theory goes, salespeople are freed up to spend more quality time with customers.
But what happens when that dedicated salesperson is replaced by a robot? Analysts predict that 66 million robots will be shipped per year by 2025, with a market value of $19 billion. Many organizations now deploy robots, avatars and chatbots to perform tasks we used to ask flesh-and-blood people to do. Call centers are automating, and retailers from banks to hardware stores are deploying robots to assist customers when they shop.
More to the point for marketers, how well will a robot function as the source of a marketing communication? Advertisers spend huge sums to recruit just the right (human) endorser for a brand, but at least so far no one seems to be giving much thought to what a salesbot or AI-generated model should look like or sound like. Social psychologists have long identified the importance of source effects in persuasive communications – essentially, who says it is as or more impactful than what they say.