Who’s better at sales? AI or Salespeople?

Human vs Artificial Intelligence: Who Wins at Sales?

By Nick Jiang

“Sell me this pen.”

That’s the famous quote from Martin Scorsese’s film, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” based on the debaucherous life of Jordan Belfort, a penny stockbroker. Belfort made a huge fortune before he was jailed for his shady business practices. In the film, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort who challenges his colleagues to sell him a pen. With human vs. artificial intelligence, who wins at sales?

Can AI step up to the challenge and do better than humans in selling an everyday object like a pen? While it may not seem like a tough task, it actually takes experienced salesperson years of practice to sell anything to anyone. Who needs another pen anyway? With the advancement of AI and its ever-expanding role in sales, some people think AI can do better than humans in sales.

The jury is still out, so let’s compare AI and humans over 5 critical skills that separate a successful salesperson from the rest of the pact: empathy, listening, agility, critical thinking, and persistence.


Empathy is defined as the “ability to walk a mile in another person’s shoes.” My favorite example is from Barter King, a TV show where people trade stuff without using cash.

Active Listening

Great salespeople are like journalists: they actively ask questions to discern what’s on a customer’s mind.


Agility is about thinking quickly on your feet and outside the box. In “The Wolf of Wall Street,” when a salesman boasts that he can sell anything, Belfort pulls out a pen and challenges him to sell the pen. He takes the pen and tells Belfort to write his name on a napkin. Belfort can’t because he doesn’t have a pen! “Exactly, supply and demand my friend,” the salesman says to Belfort.

Critical Thinking

Sales is becoming more science than art, and the best salespeople leverage data to move the needle.

While humans can analyze hundreds or thousands of data points, machines can quickly analyze and find patterns through millions of data. Want proof? It’s all around us in our everyday lives. Google Maps calculates the fastest route. Amazon recommends the best products. Netflix suggests the best content. And Babylon, an AI doctor, diagnoses diseases more accurately than human doctors.


Our human side gifts us to be empathetic, but that also makes us susceptible to the negative effects of rejections. At Birdnest, we work with amazing real estate brokers and have seen even the most persistent ones get dejected after rejections. As a founder, I have tasted the bitterness of rejection from hundreds of investors and it can take an emotional toll.


The jury may still be out on whether AI or humans are better at selling, but based on the five critical traits of a successful salesperson, looks like the machine has a slight edge over humans 3:2 in this best of five.

Read the original article at https://readwrite.com/2019/08/14/human-vs-artificial-intelligence-who-wins-at-sales/