If you’re working in sales these days, odds are you’ve heard a lot of buzz about Artificial Intelligence (AI). But what exactly is AI? Can it help you achieve your sales goals? How do you know this isn’t just another hot new tech buzzword dreamed up by an ambitious marketing department?
Wonder no more – because today we’re going to give you an overview of how AI in sales can revolutionize the way you do business. Primarily by helping you generate more revenue, more efficiently.
AI for sales is the way of the future. After reading this article, you’ll be ready to explore how artificial intelligence can take your company to the next level!
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Before we get to the nuts and bolts of how Artificial Intelligence can improve almost every area of your sales operation, let’s first discuss what AI is.
Did you grow up reading sci-fi or watching movies like The Terminator or 2001: A Space Odyssey? If you did, you might have a less than great impression of Artificial Intelligence.
In books and movies, AI is often this incredible new technology that eventually becomes self-aware and wants to destroy people. Scary stuff, right?
Well, the good news is that modern world AI isn’t going to destroy the world. But it will help you change it by getting your products in the hands of customers.
So, what is AI? Demis Hassabis, CEO of Deep Mind, gives us a very simple but accurate definition:
“AI is the science of making machines smart.”
For something as complex as Artificial Intelligence there are a lot of things that go into achieving that goal. But at the surface, this is a great definition.
There have been huge advances in AI over the past few decades and certainly more will come in the very near future. And while the idea that Artificial Intelligence will one day function like a living, breathing human being still remains in the realm of science fiction, machines are learning to “think” like people. This is great news for business.
That said, you’re already interacting with complex AI on a daily basis right now. Apple’s Siri is an AI. Voice and facial recognition software uses AI. AI sales chatbots contact you when you visit blogs or websites and sty on the page. The predictive text that helps you write emails faster uses AI. That sweet self-driving Tesla your co-worker just bought? Yep…it uses AI.
At the heart of this new movement in AI is machine learning – wherein computer AI analyzes large data sets to spot patterns. Then after analyzing these patterns, the machine can make predictions. Over time, and with more and more data, the machines get better at making predictions based on the patterns and outcomes they see.
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Why is AI Taking Over Sales?
The bit in the last section about machine learning should give you a hint as to why Artificial Intelligence is taking over sales practices.
Machines that can crunch large amounts of data and make predictions about future behavior can help sales teams better understand customers.
In fact, we’re already seeing this in the growing use of predictive and prescriptive analytics.
Companies utilizing sales enablement software with AI machine learning are beating their competitors. This is because the software provides insights that humans might have otherwise missed.
The role of AI in sales can’t be understated at this point. Technology has now given us software with complex artificial intelligence that can help us do big, challenging tasks. Tasks like analyze data and predict outcomes. Or simple things like synch our calendars to make sure meetings fit in everyone’s schedule and availability.
That all sounds pretty amazing, right?
Let’s take a second and talk about some of the areas where sales AI is providing key insights for teams. This is important for beginning to understand why AI is the future.
How is AI Used in Sales?
By this point, you’ve already got some ideas in mind for how AI could help you improve your sales revenue. Let’s talk a bit more about all the things sales enablement software with a robust AI system can bring to your team.
• Seller Performance
We know that nearly 66% of sales people are missing their quotas – but do we know why? If you’re using sales enablement software that utilizes AI, odds are you do.
Your traditional CRM offers only as much activity data as your sales team enters.
It’s often inaccurate as sales force members enter only what they need to or fudge it a bit to make it look good.
An AI-powered sales enablement platform can eliminate the need for manual tracking, and capture email, phone call, and meeting information automatically. This gives you a more detailed view of your seller’s performance, without requiring them to do all the data entry and administrative work. This can help you help them improve.
• Opportunity Health
With your leads analyzed by AI, it’s much easier to see how healthy each of the opportunities in your pipeline actually is.
Sales AI can offer up insights on how likely sales are to close by examining where the opportunity is in the pipeline, based on the contacts you’ve made, and by looking at how previous efforts in the same situation have played out.
This allows you to not only prioritize your sales, but also get opportunities that are going off the rails back on track.
SEE ALSO: How AI Shows True Opportunity Health
• Pipeline Health
But AI can do more than help you gauge the health of individual opportunities in your pipeline. It can also help you measure the health of your pipeline as a whole.
Do you have enough opportunities in the hopper with a high chance of closing? Are too many of your current leads unlikely to close? Is there a spot in your pipeline where customers are bottlenecking?
AI cannot only recognize these things, but it can help you come up with solutions to get your pipeline running smoothly again.
• Pipeline Velocity and Buyer Energy
Even if your pipeline is healthy, sales AI can help you make things better by ensuring your sales velocity is as high as it could be.
Customers are doing a lot of research and legwork on their own these days. Due to this, they’re coming into the purchasing process later than ever and the sales cycle has shortened. So if your salespeople are still approaching every opportunity as if they need to start from the beginning, your velocity is likely to suffer.
Instead, AI can help you recognize where each opportunity is in their buyer’s journey when they enter your sales cycle. And it can help your sales team approach those opportunities with the right content and the right insights to help speed the sale along.
Furthermore, it can provide insight on each deal’s energy. What we mean by this is Sales AI can track and analyze dips and spikes in buyer/seller interactions, and raise the alarm you’re falling short of a successful communication cadence. With this ability, you keep a pulse on which deals are accelerating toward a close and which may need more attention.
No one wants opportunities languishing in the pipeline. AI can help you ratchet up your velocity by removing the guesswork about the best next steps.
• Forecasting Accuracy
The final key area where sales AI can really change your business is in forecasting.
When AI can predict your likelihood of closing sales (or not closing), it makes forecasting and projections easier and more accurate. This can ensure you have proper staff levels, proper product levels, and proper supply levels. With this on hand, you can fully capitalize on booms in business or avoid wasting money during a down stretch.
To read more in depth about how Sales AI can benefit your sales forecasting, check out our previous post that dives deep into forecasting examples.
SEE ALSO: Sales Forecasting Examples
• Productivity Enhancement
Do you find you spend more of your day doing administrative work rather than selling? Are you a sales manager who spends a lot of time buried in reports rather than helping your team convert opportunities?
From simple things like making sure your calendar events and communications are logged in CRM, to more complex duties like analyzing and dynamically scoring the opportunities your pipeline – AI can make your day run more efficiently and ensure you’re using your time for high reward functions rather than generic administrative tasks.
In short, making your AI your administrator can remove a lot of the drudgery of day to day sales. With the minutia handled, AI can free you and your team to focus on what matters: selling.
Top Sales AI Tools to Make Your Life Easier
1 Accent Technologies
Accent’s sales enablement software features all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a top end piece of software. But it’s also simple to use and can be set up and fully functional (and making you money…) in just three weeks.
Unlike most AI vendors (who require six months of data before you can begin leveraging machine learning and insight), Accent can go back in time and harvest historical data missing from your CRM. This means that customers with sparse or disparate data sources can get valuable insights from day one.
But Accent’s software doesn’t just give you raw data and send you on your way. It instead learns from that data, refines it, and offers you detailed analytics that will help your sales team achieve success and convert leads at every step of the buyer’s journey.
Some of these benefits for sales reps include:
- Opportunity health and prioritization
- Intelligent guided selling (sales plays, next steps, personas to target, etc.)
- Content recommendations (suggested follow ups, specific content pieces, etc.)
- Seller Performance metrics (to track their personal effectiveness)
It also refines your sales pipeline and can aid management by providing the following:
- Pipeline health (full insight into all pipeline activity and opportunities)
- Opportunity scoring against your ideal customer profile
- Automatic intelligent recommendations and guided selling for your team
- Seller Scorecards
- Content effectiveness tracking
We could talk about our product all day, but why not schedule a demo instead? This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the ways Accent can help your sales team not only achieve their goals, but exceed them.
Nudge is another really nice product that uses sales AI and machine learning to help your sales team keep track of all their day-to-day business interactions (without having to manually log them in a CRM).
Nudge can streamline your administrative operations so that your team is freed from secretarial work and able to spend their time focusing on selling.
Do you spend an inordinate amount of time trying to set up meetings and get everyone’s schedules to align?
Well, Calendar can eliminate that hassle.
This AI-driven app can coordinate your schedule in various time increments – up to like a decade for those of you who really like to lock things down. Its AI can help sales professionals coordinate with potential clients seamlessly by finding windows where all parties can meet.
People.AI is basically the sales mentor you always wanted but maybe never got.
This software solution offers sales reps insights into when sales are losing velocity while also offering up solutions to help get things back on track. It can provide coaching for reps, create roadmaps to help your reps hit their targets, and even show your sales team members how they measure up against their more successful counterparts.
The analytics solutions offered by People.AI can not only help your team close more deals, but understand what behaviors and actions made those closings possible so they can utilize them again in the future.
PersistIQ utilizes sales AI to help your salespeople find more ways to be successful.
The software analyzes data to determine the most effective tactics for converting prospects into customers and then offers guidance to your sales team to help them fully implement strategies that should lead to success.
Sales team members can filter the data in ways that are most useful to them (customer persona, inbound, and so on) and duplicate workflows of prior sales that ended in success.
Do you use Siri a lot? Well, Conversica is sort of like having Siri, except she’s reaching out to your contacts and turning them into opportunities.
This online persona qualifies leads through two-way email conversations. How does it do this?
Conversica uses a sales AI that analyzes language used in email to determine when a contact has shifted to a qualified opportunity. It says it’s faster at finding opportunities than human salespeople, and it will even take care of customers after completing a purchase, following up with them automatically.
Conversica frees your sales team to sell – rather than spend the bulk of their day emailing contacts and prospects.
Chorus.AI is a software solution that analyzes all your calls and contacts with potential customers, transcribes and examines all the language used, then tells you how you can better communicate to close more deals.
What’s really interesting about Chorus.AI is how it breaks down communication. You won’t have to listen to an entire sales call to get the breakdown of what worked and what didn’t. Chorus creates a sort of “highlight reel” of every interaction that shows places where the sales rep succeeded and places where there’s room for improvement.
This can be invaluable for training new team members, who can simply examine winning calls for clues about how to be most successful when it comes to selling your product.
As you can no doubt see, sales AI is the wave of the future.
While we’re still in the early stages of this technology, where not everything is completely refined. But the speed at which AI tech is advancing means things are only going to get better moving forward.
That makes this the perfect time to hop onto the sales AI bandwagon. Not only can you get in on the ground floor of this emerging technology, you can gain a valuable head start over your competitors.
Top sales teams and companies are already utilizing Artificial Intelligence in every customer interaction to gain a competitive edge. If your competitors are in this group, it’s time to start catching up. If they’re not, why not put some distance between you and them?
The good news is that solutions utilizing sales AI are emerging more and more in the market. Whether you want a full-service solution that can crunch data, offer predictive and prescriptive analytics, and coach your sales team to be more effective, or you just want something that helps turn your contacts into opportunities without requiring you to spend hours emailing them, there’s a solution built to meet your needs.
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Accent Technologies is the first and only SaaS company to bring together Sales AI and Content Management in a true Revenue Enablement Platform. We provide both sales and marketing with better visibility into the performance of their teams. This drives revenue through intelligent recommendations for complex sales scenarios and provides the data for rich analytics that power better coaching, forecasting, and long-term customer support. Learn more about our solutions or request a live demo to see it in action.