‘Selling isn’t easy’ – Not really. It’s easy when you know how to do it. Most of the salespeople are reluctant to perform basic sales activities like prospecting, cold calling, or for that matter, converting.
It’s quite shocking that only one percent of cold calls even lead to an appointment according to the study done by Baylor University’s Keller Center for research? Most of it happens because, as salespeople, we fail to understand prospects’ needs.
Enter Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is helping salespeople increase lead volume, conversion rate, and thus ROI. Enterprises are using AI in all kinds of innovative ways to drive their businesses, and it’s more than sure that you might have experienced it already.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
The best example that everyone understands is your smartphone; it has tons of AI-powered capabilities. These include voice assistants (Artificial Intelligence that hears and speaks) and other facial recognition feature that unlocks your phone with your face or even predicts your text (a writing AI).
AI can help businesses sell more. For instance, an AI tool exists that writes and suggests parts of your email content for you. Once humans train the tool using marketing samples written by humans, the machine learns on its own to improve.
If you’ve ever searched a movie on Netflix, an AI algorithm recommends and influences your decision on what to watch. If you’ve shopped on Amazon, your decision about what to buy was also influenced by AI.
If you made a search on Google about a product and it kind of suddenly pops up as an ad and follows you wherever you go, it’s definitely an Artificial Intelligence algorithm monitoring your online activity.
Artificial Intelligence algorithm monitoring your online activity
Now, imagine this power applied to any piece of sales or marketing technology that uses data. These same types of AI algorithms are used to assist any company’s decision-making process and driving them in the right direction. For Sales, AI can help achieve the following goals (according to research from Demand base):
59% higher close rates for sales
58% more revenue
54% greater engagement
52% higher conversion
AI for Marketing and Sales empowers people to enhance the customer experience, whether through more targeted product offers or more personalized content.
Is Artificial Intelligence posing a threat to sales jobs?
AI is one of the most helpful technological developments in business today; it offers ways to personalize and draw actionable insights from a huge pool of customer data. But the first thing that springs in mind when AI is mentioned is job cut.
On the contrary, AI can create new jobs for humans. The combination of the AI system, along with the sales team brings in more productivity. Customers today say that they want consultative, trusted advisors focused on achieving their unique needs.
As companies rely more and more on automation, they will require more people with technical skills to maintain, replace, update, and fix Artificial Intelligence technology.
According to Salesforce, 76% of teams using AI have increased their sales staff since 2015.
As it turns out, AI is a big deal for salespeople, and hence there is an increase in its adoption rate.
How are Sales Teams adopting AI
Artificial Intelligence stands out among the fastest-growing sales tech. Sales leaders expect their teams AI adoption to grow faster than any other technology. Other sophisticated capabilities such as marketing and sales process automation also rank high.
According to Salesforce, while only 21% of sales leaders say their organizations use AI today, adoption is set to skyrocket by 155% over the next two years.
Sales leadership foresees AI reaching a critical mass by 2020 when 54% expect to use the technology.
Nearly half of salespeople think AI will play a role in guided selling-related capabilities like opportunity rankings and suggested next steps. Below are the few ways through which AI helps sales teams.
Some AI systems are better than humans in filling the pipeline fast. These AI tools find new potential leads for you within your databases or from the social media platforms. They mine the connections between people, companies, products, and places on the web and filters those leads that might become customers.
Other AI tools find new leads that are similar to the existing leads in the system. And some others provide contact details for the leads in your addressable market. They surface new sales leads from Outlook responses, find replacement contacts when people change their jobs and find new phone numbers of the contacts from their email signatures.
Lead Scoring and Nurture
Lead Scoring is an effective model from Salesforce’s AI, Einstein, for Marketing and Sales teams to identify the potential prospects from the current sales funnel. This model works well when it is set up and used on a regular basis.
Through Einstein, the sales team will assign point values to different customer actions in the sales funnel. These actions could be just visiting the website for downloading the product price sheet. It’d be a waste of time for the salesperson to contact a prospect who is at the research phase and visiting your website over the prospect who has downloaded the price sheet.
Scoring is given based on the value of action towards doing business. When a lead reaches a threshold point, it would be tagged as a ‘hot’ lead. Thus, the sales team can focus their attention on the right group of prospects and be more productive.
Personalization is the heart of making buying decisions today. According to Accenture, three out of four customers say that they are more likely to buy from a brand that offers personalization over brands that don’t. Personalization is also directly proportional to profits.
Artificial Intelligence has the ability to remove the guesswork out of personalization. One classic example of AI personalization in action is the Starbucks marketing program, which showed a 300% increase in customer spending. Customers regularly receive personalized offers and free drink rewards based on their past purchase behavior.
AI-powered personalization can be used to help customers move their way through the buyer’s journey, as well. The algorithms can study consumer behavior so that ads and other messages are sent at the right time and trigger the ideal response.
Enterprises engage in sales forecasting on a weekly basis, yet it often seems to be an imprecise activity. Traditional sales forecasting included a wide range of activities, from in-depth historical analysis to gut impulses, which may or may not work.
Artificial Intelligence can increase the accuracy of sales forecasting. AI enables sales reps to effectively understand and keep a tab on existing customer journeys and give real-time insights into customer pain points and preferences.
For instance, a customer is looking for a competitive product; AI captures this data and predicts which competitive messaging should be presented to the customer. If AI detects that a customer has purchased a complementary technology for which your company offers an integrated, personalized sales messaging is delivered with the intent to engage the customer.