Artificial Intelligence (AI) is prepared to change everything – and sales is no exception!
In fact, in the coming years, AI will further innovate to dramatically affect how customers buy and how salespeople sell.
According to Salesforce, the adoption of AI in sales is anticipated to skyrocket as well, with over 54% of companies integrating the technology in their sales operations. Moreover, Forrester’s research indicates that combining AI with human assistance will increase productivity by 66% and customer satisfaction by 61%.
Simply put, AI has the potential to become a sales rep’s best friend.
Here is how:
Increase in Productivity
Sales teams spend a lot of time doing repetitive tasks. Research, phone calls, emails, updating CRMs, etc. takes up a bulk of their time, leaving them with less time (and energy) to focus on the actual selling.
However, artificial intelligence can take over the mundane or admin-related tasks from the hands of salespeople – so they can focus their efforts on increasing sales growth.
Salespeople have access to data regarding the prospects. However, only a few admit to using the same proactively when searching for leads and nurturing relationships. Instead, they use their experience along with plain guesswork to tackle the leads.
In fact, many sales leaders hold weekly forecast meetings where they ask their team questions like “Have you talked to the right customer” and “What did you do last week?”
These conversations are usually based on storytelling and not data. This can become a problem when one of the reps misses the number, impacting the entire organization’s forecasting.
However, AI takes the guesswork out of the system. By relying on a set of data, AI tools can predict the next quarter’s revenue with a higher accuracy rate.
This will help the sales team understand where to focus their resources and make data-driven decisions to enhance the chances of success.
Sales reps often enforce all their efforts on ‘each’ client. However, not every prospect you deal with is created equal, and not everyone is likely to turn into customers.
AI-powered technologies analyze data from emails, calls, and CRMs to determine the tasks that are likely to add more value to the company. For example, the AI will indicate that in order to close the deal with a specific client, sales reps need to bring in the company’s director at the third stage of the selling process.
With this knowledge, sales reps can build marketing material to target the director at an early stage of the sales funnel, rather than the predicted decision stage.
Experts also anticipate that as AI advancements continue, we will have access to even more in-depth insights, such as analyzing an email’s sentiment.
Knowing what discount to give a client is always a tricky situation for a sales rep. You want to win the customer, but at the same time, you don’t want to leave money on the table.
Today, an AI algorithm can tell you what the ideal discount rate (if any) should be for each proposal. The toolset will look at specific details of past deals, including the size of the deal in terms of amount, company size, company’s ability to pay, level of decision-maker, number of competitors, etc. to suggest the best price.
We are all familiar with Netflix and how their complex algorithm sends movies and shows recommendations based on our watching history.
AI can offer similar personalized interactions based on the data they collect. For instance, if a consumer buys a product, AI can automatically send them an email along with more product recommendations.
Sales managers have to keep an eye on each sales rep’s revenue pipeline to analyze the deals that are working or will fall through.
With the help of AI, sales managers can now use dashboards to visually assess which salespeople are likely to hit their quota and have better chances of closing deals. This will allow the managers to focus their attention on key salespeople and the sales that will help the company gain more revenue.
Improves Lead Quality
Lastly, integrating AI into the sales operations helps improve the quality of leads and increases the likelihood of success.
Lead quality has always been an issue in sales. This is because they don’t have access to the right set of data and analytics.
AI tools can enrich leads by automatically supplementing missing information from external third party sources. It will also find the leads faster, ultimately increasing both – revenue and reducing cost.
But the need for human remains….
‘Will AI replace human sellers?’ is one of the most common questions we get asked. Sellers are also reluctant to use advanced technology for fear of losing their job.
However, AI will not replace salespeople but instead, give them free time to focus on the more valuable work. While AI does the monotonous tasks for them, salespeople should focus on how AI can help improve their sales process and eliminate manual tasks to be more efficient and productive.
Additionally, AI makes logic-based decisions and will require human monitoring to ensure big sales are not lost within the data. For instance, AI tools integrated with Uber determines how much the rate will be according to supply and demand. The rates of the ride-hailing service automatically go up if there is significant demand.
But when a shooting situation occurred in Australia a few years back, many people in the area tried to leave with Uber ride-hailing service. Analyzing the demand, Uber rates shot up – giving it a bad reputation.
Prepare your Team for AI
As you can see, AI will soon become an integral part of the sales teams, and being prepared is the key to successful adoption.
Train your team regarding the importance of AI and how it will improve their natural workflow. Provide explanations for AI-driven recommendations. With security concerns on the rise, equip your team with the best cybersecurity practices to limit the possibility of data breaches on AI. Build awareness through different training programs. Anything that gives your AI journey a head start.
Or else, you will be left playing catch-up, trying to keep up with the customer’s expectations and the rising competition. Good luck!
CEO & Managing Partner Trajectory Capital. Lifetime serial entrepreneur, CEO, Board Member, mentor, advisor and investor. Obsessed with the infinite realm of possibility in the disruptive innovation driving global digital transformation in tech, digital media & advertising, cloud-based infrastructure, artificial intelligence, and the blockchain.