Oktoberfest vs. artificial intelligence in sales (wait, what?)

Oktoberfest is September 22 – October 7 this year — with the first keg of beer being tapped by the Mayor of Munich on that first date. It’s a wild party. Even if you haven’t ever been, you can conceptualize it from afar. It’s nuts. It’s drunken. It’s hedonistic. And yet, there are hundreds of business events tied to it; a cursory Google search finds you tons.

This creates an interesting intersection point, though: we live in this time where B2B is supposed to be extremely data-driven and objective, and artificial intelligence is supposedly reducing elements of human error and leading us to better decision-making, and the contacts we have in our back-end CRMs are supposedly perfect targets because of all this objectivity + tech, but yet … we still make some of our biggest deals while buzzed out of our minds dancing around and knocking glasses together?

What gives?

The B2B Bubble

This exists. You could also call it “the professionalism bubble.” We’re all giant children at heart, even when we slay our quotas. We all want to be kids. We want to play. The notion of adulthood — and having our own kids — took that from us in a way, but we still want it. Just look at 40-somethings on Halloween. We still want to play, believe me.

Not everything can be AI, numbers, targets, new tech stack opportunities, and well-rehearsed concept calls or go-to-market strategies. Sometimes, as human beings, we just want to play with others — and that might mean getting drunk in a biergarten and talking about the real realities of where your business is headed. That might drive a deal.

In short, you can’t live in your perfect professional bubble forever. We need both the target-based realities and the “I think I’ve had 4, but maybe it’s 7…” realities. Both help us close deals.

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A careful note on relationships

In just our most recent post, we were taking down the idea of relationship-driven selling. It can work for a while, but it can’t scale that effectively for numerous reasons (outlined in that post). But now we’re saying get drunk at Oktoberfest and close deals? Don’t those ideas go against each other?

Well, that’s not actually what we’re saying. We are saying there is a room for both. You just can’t only do the relationship stuff, because it can’t scale. We actually just met a guy in cybersecurity sales who only works relationship selling; he never tries to work value selling. He was a superstar in his company for about 10 quarters, including going 3-4x quota few times. Then it all started to erode/crash. Now he’s a black sheep potentially on the chopping block in 2019, and scrambling to try and adjust his approach to sell on the product value. It might be too little, too late.

You can sell on the drunken nights, and you can sell with some powerful AI suite. You can sell in a suit or sell in board shorts. We need both to build relationships, showcase the value of what we have to offer, and drive the business. Just remember it needs to be a balance.

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