‘The robots are coming to steal our jobs’; I’ve heard that line a few times since we crept into the noughties (showing my age now). Ultimately, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has changed nearly everything – and Sales are no exception. It affects how customers buy – and how salespeople need to sell.
AI fuels the buying choices we make every day – from the films we watch, the route a taxi driver takes, to the next item we order online. Recommendation, location, and association algorithms are the key players in modern society. They lurk behind the scenes under both a creepy and clever guise: Creepy that our devices know and connect to so much about us. Clever that what it does is actually helpful and at times uber efficient.
As is the case, an increasing number of businesses have managed to implement AI capabilities into their sales processes. Said capabilities serve the following functions:
So, let’s take a look at some specifics associated with the functions above, and several ways AI can impact the sales landscape.
Salespeople often rank leads in the order of who is most likely to make a purchase. In such cases, there is usually a lot of customer data to scour through in order to generate ranking lists. This process can be repetitive and consume long periods of time.
Applying AI intervention to historical sales datasets might help businesses automatically organise lead ranking lists and reduce the time spent on such a process.
Sales teams across a multitude of businesses are using the historical product and customer data to filter and segment prospects and leads.
In the short term, sales automation software enhanced with AI will likely augment the capabilities of salespeople and improve the chances of forming relationships with potential customers and leads.
When you get the mix right, it results in salespeople who are empowered by intelligence, as opposed to just a machine / software.
For example, a salesperson dealing in car parts might use AI to access information about their products, the manufacturers, and customers to personalise sales pitches.
If the salesperson received several orders for a failing spark plug in a particular car model, the AI software can prompt the sales team with an alert to offer the manufacturer a higher volume of spark plugs at a profitable price. AI might do better than humans with its ability to identify trends and correlations in large amounts of data.
Personalising sales and marketing initiatives to customers should be a key focus for businesses that utilise AI as part of their lead generation strategy.
For example, a pharmaceutical sales team might use a lead generation platform with AI capabilities to identify trends in historical sales and customer data and use them to predict which customers in a locality might prefer a particular brand of their products.
AI can detect new leads by scouring through data and automatically extracting or categorising information that might be useful. Machine learning can discover patterns in customer data and find cause-and-effect relationships between products and customers.
Businesses that adopt / integrate AI (internally or via an external service) have experienced an increase in leads and appointments by about 50%, according to McKinsey research in the Harvard Business Review.
AI technology can automate many sales activities – such as gathering customer information to determine needs, processing sales, taking product orders and preparing contracts. That leaves salespeople with more time to build relationships.
AI helps salespeople identify needs and align solutions before they make the call, so they have less to explore during any given call. Time is money in the sales sphere.
By automating lower-level sales activities with AI technology, some businesses have cut costs in half. Salespeople are then left to utilise their time focussing on increasing profits.
Because salespeople spend less time doing tasks at the top of the proverbial sales funnel, they have more time to devote to negotiating smartly and closing.
As AI is increasingly adopted, salespeople will need to focus more on managing expectations, clarifying the ambiguity, making judgment calls and ultimately choosing which strategies to explore.
The role of a sales manager will change as machine intelligence can increasingly gather and analyse performance data, recommend solutions and make daily data-based decisions.
Humans will always fulfil critical roles that AI can’t. The requirement for creating and maintaining workplace culture, building relationships with colleagues and customers, recruiting good people, and acting as a moral guide is currently beyond the realms of AI.
AI algorithms look at the specifics associated with past deals that were won and lost – such as the size of the deal, alignment with product specifications, number of competitors, client’s ability to spend, territory, timing and influencers. Then AI can give specifics on optimal pricing.
Sales managers do a good job of predicting their team’s sales numbers and setting goals; however, AI can help them predict with a higher degree of accuracy. That gives organisations a leg up operationally as they are able to better plan for production, stock and resources.
Salespeople can often identify which leads to pursue, but don’t always know which leads to pursue first. AI can take the gut-instinct out of those decisions with algorithms that compile historical transaction information, interaction details and social media posts to rank leads and chances of closing.
Determining customer lifetime value has always been a challenge for sales leaders and salespeople in general. Who will renew? Who will drop off? And, most importantly, why?
AI can help identify the health of relationships and point salespeople toward those that need attention.
AI helps businesses dig down into the techniques, approaches and time management strategies of its top salespeople (and the lesser performers too, if required for comparison).
Sales managers can share insights and best practices across the team. This knowledge also helps inform the recruitment of new team members with similar capabilities consistent with high performers.
If you want to know a tad more about AI and how it dovetails with Pivotal Ones’ approach to lead generation, please drop us a no-obligation call on 0161 660 9222.
Find out how many leads we can generate for your business, how many will convert to
customers and how much each lead will cost. Giving you an ROI before you decide to go ahead.