AI is a branch of computer science that gives machines the ability to mimic human thought, decision-making, and behavior. The machines learn and adapt according to large datasets, eventually allowing them to make insights, predictions, and recommendations. This technology has slowly been incorporated into different components of our everyday lives including online chatbots, facial recognition software, and self-driving cars.
The potential for AI in sales is huge, but yet to be fully unlocked. It can be used by businesses to improve lead volume, closing rate, and revenue performance by helping automate much of the process. Salesforce also found that high-performing teams are 4.9X more likely to be using AI than underperforming ones.
How is AI used in sales?
One of the key benefits of AI in sales is how it helps to find new prospects. Finding the best prospects is a very time-consuming process and many organizations struggle to get the data they need from multiple sources. It requires an organization to look for connections between each data point, determine any possible relationships between them, and then evaluate the prospects. Only after these steps, can they properly qualify a prospect.
Given the large amount of data required to qualify a prospect, AI is well-positioned to be dealing with the volume and sophistication of this task. For example, the intersection of firmographic and technographic data can ultimately help find a bunch of high revenue, mid-market firms in your location that will be interested in your product or service. Alternatively, AI could help you determine which leads are best suited to your organization. Whilst you may be looking to target large organizations, you might find that smaller organizations with aligned technologies would be a better indication of lead quality.
Sales intelligence tools are the best solutions available for those who are looking to achieve this goal of finding and qualifying prospects quickly. Tools such as Triggr will help B2B sales & marketing professionals generate highly targeted lead lists at scale, complete with contact details of decision-makers who matter.
Other ways that AI can be used in sales:
- Predictive forecasting – Artificial intelligence systems may already predict or anticipate outcomes based on past data to help shape future results. Sales AI technologies are capable of making predictions like if a sale will close depending on previous consumer patterns. Having a better understanding of what the future demand of your business looks like, will allow you to appropriately allocate resources where it is best spent. Further, another key benefit is being able to holistically understand your customers better – knowing why they have certain behaviors. Having and using this information will greatly improve customer retention in the future. Examples of such tools are Xactly Forecasting and Salesforce.
- Lead scoring – AI will help you determine the behaviors of leads and in turn the probability that they turn into a paying customer. This means that with AI, you will better be able to improve your lead generation because you can score your prospects and effectively determine how you want to approach and prioritize them based on their level of interest. Examples of such tools include Marketo.
- Content personalization – Understanding your priority leads will help you curate personalized content to attract them. Content may be in the form of webinars, white papers, and blogs. Examples of such tools include Trendemon and Personyze.
- Recommendations – AI can help provide recommendations on the best action based on a combination of the lead themselves and your company goals. Actions that it may recommend include the probability of making the sale and who to prioritize. This can save the time of your sales team, allowing them to spend more time building relationships with prospects. Examples of such tools include Highspot.
- Automation – AI can help automate repetitive tasks for your sales team. This includes tasks such as inputting data into your CRM, setting up meetings, and answering generic questions via a chatbot. Examples of such tools include PersistIQ.
- Analytics – AI can give your sales team strong analytical data. One example is that you can better understand the success of your sales team by using AI to give proper attribution to each sale. You can also use AI to analyze customers, your tool, and your pricing. Examples of such tools include Chorus.
It’s clear that your sales team will not be replaced, but rather the role of your sales team will change. Previously, the role of sales would have been spent trawling through lists to find prospects that they should prioritize and follow up on. Now, with AI, they can better spend their time building stronger relationships with prospects.
What are the key benefits for your sales team?
- More tailored leads for your sales team
- Increasing time for salespeople to spend more time on selling and develop better relationships
- Reduction in time to close
- Reducing costs through more automation
- Better management and allocation of time with forecasting
- Easier to upsell and create tailored pricing
Roadblocks to Implementing AI
AI solutions are increasingly accepted but there are roadblocks to properly implementing them into an organization. Data is critical for AI and to have a successful integration of it, organizations will need a comprehensive data stream. This data stream will effectively need to track leads from the beginning and as they move into paying customers. Having this comprehensive set of data can be hard to attain at first. Thus, first setting, a specific goal of tracking sales attribution and taking small steps by collecting a specific subset of data will be a step in the right direction. There are several tools that take your existing set of data and help you expand on it to grow. For example, Trigger’s look-alike function will assess your existing portfolio of customers and find similar organizations based on firmographic and technographic data. This way, you are better able to target your existing ideal customer profile (ICP).
To properly integrate AI, different departments in your organization need to be aligned. This includes management, your customer-facing teams, and your back office. Management needs to be aligned on the benefits of AI so that as final decision-makers, they will buy into the tool. Your customer-facing teams and your back office needs to be aligned as AI tools will often span across the whole organization. There is often hesitancy to uptake these tools given the perceived threat of roles. To overcome this, organizations need to reiterate the idea that these tools do not replace individuals, but rather shift the priorities of your teams to more focused and relationship-building tasks.
Increase your sales with AI
Sales processes that are highly optimized by AI and machine learning technology aren’t a distant prospect; they already exist. Adopting the sales tools that use AI will increase the sales your team makes, putting you ahead of your competitors.