As stated by the legendary science fiction writer, Chen Qiufan in AI 2041, “humans’ search for artificial intelligence has persisted throughout world history, long before computer science existed as a field or the term AI entered the lexicon”. Over the last few years, AI has made insurmountable breakthroughs and essentially become a core driver for the fourth industrial revolution.
But, how do we define AI? Artificial intelligence is an amalgamation of several unique smart technologies like NLP (Natural Language Processing), ML (Machine Learning), Computer vision, Deep learning, etc. Hence, it becomes an arduous task to come up with a fitting definition.
Like most business functions, AI has also gained prominence in the world of sales. According to Mckinsey’s State of AI surveys from 2020 and 2021, Sales and Marketing is one of the three business functions where AI adoption is most common. But what exactly can artificial intelligence do for sales? Is artificial intelligence the future of sales? This blog will shed light on AI’s predominant role in your sales career.
Our blog on social selling outlines that sales is an organic human activity fostered by person-to-person interactions. However, the rapidly developing capability of AI in mimicking human intelligence has proved to be an essential component in enhancing sales processes, decoding complex sales challenges, and elevating sales teams’ performance. AI in sales means utilizing this marvelous technology not only for everyday sales operational tasks but also for the cognitive ones, making you stand out as an outstanding salesperson.
Artificial intelligence has transformed conventional human-centric sales by automating various sales process stages. For instance, AI technology like ML can recommend the right targets and predict your sales numbers. By constantly assessing its own performance, it can give you the tools to increase your sales exponentially.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of AI in sales.
This is probably the most time-consuming part of the sales cycle. AI drastically cuts down manual effort by-
You usually undergo the grueling exercise of scouting the right prospects and then manually qualifying each lead. Also, most of this work is often speculative, based on previous success stories.
Artificial intelligence takes the guesswork out of lead qualification as it can compile and coordinate data across several platforms, like procuring your client’s historical information from social media and even records of your client interactions from emails, messages, etc. By analyzing this data, AI can make intelligent connections and help you find the best prospective customer.
Artificial intelligence uses optimization techniques to anticipate your best course of action when a given situation requires tradeoffs between objectives and constraints. This may be determining the optimal pricing for every deal or using ML to suggest upselling and cross-selling opportunities.
Artificial intelligence can assist you in building long-term client relationships in the following ways-
Although your end goal as a salesperson is to bring in more customers; you also need to power through several operational tasks throughout your workday. According to Mckinsey, “B2B sales teams willing to shake up their sales models and embrace next-gen capabilities are growing revenue at twice the rate of GDP”. Here are some ways in which artificial intelligence can remove the redundancy from your daily schedule and leave you bandwidth for what matters most, i.e., closing more sales.
By identifying the factors that influence a given outcome, AI uses predictive modeling to project various sales outcomes. Some of them are –
Artificial intelligence has revolutionized the sales training industry. AI-guided selling can help you augment your product/industry knowledge, identify your activities that drive deals, and also help you focus on honing the skills that need more work. Rather than basic sales skills, AI-based sales training focuses more on critical thinking, primarily in data literacy. To keep up with current developments in AI, sales training models will need to incorporate the usage of AI/ML sales tools in daily sales operations.
Though the advantages of using AI for sales are exemplary, do not adopt technology just for the sake of it. Using any form of tech requires you to understand the basic functionality to maximize its potential. Do your research and get a general sense of the key terminologies.
Identify the sales activities and high-priority outcomes unique to your business. Map out areas where you might have inefficiencies and spend some time evaluating suitable options. Most AI vendors offer free trials, which help you get acquainted and decide the best course of action to address any gaps in your sales process.
After you have onboarded a new AI system and used it for some time, do not forget to assess your decision. We live in a dynamic world where technology or business requirement keeps changing. Determine if your tech is still adding value and look for replacements if you feel otherwise.
Now that you have understood how to incorporate AI into your sales process, here’s a list of some of the best AI tools for the sales function, in no particular order.
Conversica– Its automated AI sales assistant pre-qualifies a lead before you move it down your sales funnel. It saves you a lot of time and ensures you interact with only the leads genuinely interested in your offering.
Drift – Drift helps companies engage in real-time, personalized conversations with the right customers at the right time. Its revenue acceleration platform is built on the foundation of conversational marketing and conversational sales.
Exceed.ai – Its AI assistant engages qualified leads with human-like two-way conversations over email, website chat, and SMS. Once these leads are ready to talk to sales, the assistant will loop you in to book a meeting or demo.
Troops – Troops is a revenue communications platform designed with humans in mind. It alerts sales teams with real-time revenue signals allowing them to take rapid action, share intelligence and decide better.
Crayon – Crayon’s competitive intelligence software offers you competitive analysis by tracking millions of data sources. It provides data based on real-time and historical insights to identify trends and opportunities.
Dialpad Sell – Its AI-powered sales dialler provides intelligence and helps sales reps close more deals. Dialpad uses voice intelligence technology and CRM integration in a best-of-breed communications solution.
People.ai – People.ai is an enterprise revenue platform that helps uncover revenue opportunities from your customers. It automates data entry, boosts productivity, and provides actionable intelligence across all management tools.
Salesforce Einstein – Salesforce’s AI tech Einstein is a sales assistant that empowers you to empathize with customers, increases your productivity, and supersede customer experience. It offers customer insights based on past interactions that help prioritize leads, cases, and campaigns
The challenges in using artificial intelligence for sales are often due to the inability to understand the tech and setting unrealistic expectations. As stated by Gartner, steer clear of these common oversights while integrating AI into your sales process.
By now, you would have realized that AI is no longer part of sci-fi lingo and has real-world use cases in the sales domain. Gartner predicts that 75% of B2B companies will utilize AI-guided selling solutions by 2025. Moreover, according to its 2021 CSO Priorities Pulse Survey, CSOs (Chief Sales Officers) have already invested or are considering investing in AI tools.
From helping you study your target market, identifying your potential customers, optimizing your pricing options, forecasting your revenue, and enhancing post-sales interactions with real-time customer intel, you can apply to every stage of the sales process. Although we are yet to explore the full potential of artificial intelligence in the sales function, the future of selling would be primarily about automating the mundane and helping you prioritize the human aspect of sales.