Artificial Intelligence in Sales


Artificial Intelligence in Sales

Sales is a field that loves its buzzwords. From pipelines to funnels to key performance indicators and beyond, it’s easy to feel like you need a dictionary and a score sheet just to keep everything straight.

One of the newest words getting tossed around regularly is Artificial Intelligence.

These days, you can’t read a sales-related blog post without hearing about how AI can help you improve your numbers, close more deals, create better sales people, and help you find opportunities you would have otherwise missed.

But is this the truth or just more marketing spin? Is Artificial Intelligence in sales the way of the future or just another fad that we’ll all consign to the scrapheap of history in a few years?

That’s what we’re going to answer today. (Spoiler alert: it’s the way of the future…)

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Before we get into all the ways Artificial Intelligence is changing the sales landscape, let’s first talk about AI in the broader sense.

Artificial Intelligence is a sort of blanket term that covers a number of different disciplines. Artificial Intelligence is used to cover machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, deep learning, and a host of other technical sounding things.

What groups all of these disciplines together isn’t a desire to help machines eradicate mankind (sorry, Terminator fans), but instead to help machines become better at performing cognitive tasks in order to lighten humanity’s workload. 

Whether you realize it or not, Artificial Intelligence is already making your daily life better.

All those self-driving Teslas? They use computer vision AI to avoid obstacles and get you to your destination. 

Notice how YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon always know what to suggest to you for your next binge watch or purchase? An AI algorithm is behind that. 

Use Siri or Alexa in your house or on your phone? Yep…you guessed it. That’s more Artificial Intelligence. 

So, as you can see, AI is an exciting technology that’s already here and impacting our daily lives – not some futuristic concept from science fiction. Even better? The technology is improving by the day – meaning artificial intelligence will play an even bigger role in our lives moving forward. 

But enough about that – let’s talk about how AI will impact sales today and in the years ahead. 

Why is Artificial Intelligence Taking Over Sales?

At this point you might be thinking “okay, all of that sounds great – but how does Artificial Intelligence play into the sales process? Is a machine going to cold call my customers?”

The short answer here is “no” (although AI can email your customers – and AI chatbots have become more and more prevalent in the past few years…). 

Instead, what AI does so well is that it can crunch huge amounts of data and then parse all of that information faster, more efficiently, and more effectively than any human could.

All of those complex algorithms and machine learning means Artificial Intelligence can track millions of different data points in every customer interaction and then analyze that data to determine outcomes. We call this predictive analytics.

But it doesn’t stop there – sales enablement software that utilizes complex Artificial Intelligence to predict outcomes can also suggest solutions to increase your odds of success based on past results. We call that prescriptive analytics.

This ability to predict trends and find ways to desired outcomes is why Artificial Intelligence has taken the sales world by storm – and why it’s not going away. It’s like having a psychic on staff – only you don’t have to budget boxes of tea leaves into your annual expenditures.

How is Artificial Intelligence Used to Improve Sales?

Now that we know what Artificial Intelligence is, and how it’s changing the way sales works, let’s talk more in depth about how you can use this technology to improve your numbers and close more deals.  

Predictive Forecasting

We touched on the predictive powers of sales AI in the last section, but let’s dive just a little bit deeper here. 

Predictive forecasting can have a major impact on your sales efforts – in fact, we could really write a whole article about all the ways predictive analytics are a total game changer when it comes to sales. 

However, since that’s beyond the scope of this particular article, let’s just hit some of the high notes. 

First up, predictive analytics is fantastic for breaking down your sales pipeline and predicting which deals have the highest chance of closing. Armed with this knowledge, you can then focus on those deals first, scoring easy wins for the sales department.

The help doesn’t end there, though. 

It can then help you determine the next wave of prospects to focus on – helping to ensure leads are flowing through your pipeline like a fire hose, not trickling through like a clogged pipe.

And finally, it can predict things beyond your pipeline – targeting potential prospects who might be interested in your product or service based on complex data analysis. 

How useful is that? Pretty useful from where we’re sitting. 

Lead Scoring

Taking that idea a step further, the complex Artificial Intelligence used in sales enablement software can help you prioritize all of your leads so you can better utilize the Pareto Principle (aka the 80/20 Rule) to focus on leads with the best chance of becoming customers.

You might be wondering how a machine manages to do this – and the reality is pretty fascinating.

Machine learning means exactly what the name implies – the machine examines data, determines outcomes, then refines the process for the next iteration. Over time, the machine becomes increasingly adept at recognizing patterns in behavior and can predict outcomes based on those factors.

So, the machine in this case might look at a lead’s social media history, their interaction with your sales rep, and any other historical information it can find about the lead.

It will then analyze all of that data and compare it against all the other data it has to assign a probability of each lead becoming a customer. This way, your team focuses on the leads that matter most. 

Optimized Pricing

Another way Artificial Intelligence can help you complete more sales is by offering insight on how to best price you’re offerings.

While every product and service has a set price, we all know that the suggested retail price of anything is just that…a suggestion. 

Most companies will adjust pricing to make a potential customer happy and to help close a deal. 

The challenge comes from determining the amount of a discount on a purchase. No one wants to go too low and leave money on the table, but most sales professionals don’t want to engage in used car sales styled haggling either.

The good news is that Artificial Intelligence can eliminate the guesswork and give you insight into what the optimal discount would be to close the deal. And not just one deal, but every individual deal you have going.

Again, the sales enablement software manages to pull off this feat by looking at volumes of old data. There are any number of factors it can weigh in determining the best discount, including the dollar value of the deal, the size of the company, the region where the sale is taking place, timing of the potential sale, stakeholder involvement, and dozens of other indicators.

Utilizing this data guarantees you’ll offer each individual a fair discount based on real world analysis, but that you’re not giving the product away just to close a deal. Everyone goes home happy. 

Sales Forecasting

Artificial Intelligence is a phenomenal asset for helping you manage your most valuable sales resource: your sales pipeline.

Not only can it help you determine with prospects have the most potential and then prioritize those future customers, but it can help you forecast sales revenue for both the short and long term.

Armed with enough data, Artificial Intelligence can break down the potential value of every deal in your pipeline currently to give you an accurate forecast for the coming period. Beyond that, it can look at your historical data to make projections for the year or beyond.

While sales forecasting has never been an exact science, Artificial Intelligence is already better at predicting future revenue than most humans. The sheer amount of data it can absorb and contextualize makes it far more reliable than your sales managers and accounting teams.

Cross-Selling and Upselling

Sales often tends to focus on new business to the exclusion of everything else – which is a mistake, because odds are you already have an existing base of customers who have bought from you before and would be willing to make your relationship ongoing.

Artificial Intelligence can help you take advantage of this underutilized market by finding opportunities where upselling and cross-selling have a greater chance of success.

Rather than spend huge amounts of money on marketing and guessing whether or not your existing customers might need additional products or services, AI can once again crunch the data and give you actionable insights on who’s a prime candidate for a follow up purchase.

The best part of this is that selling to existing customers costs a lot less money than going out and finding new leads and prospects. Artificial Intelligence can not only help you find these opportunities to upsell and cross-sell, but can even help you find the right materials to pique interest, advise you on how best to make the initial contact, and help you make sure you include the proper stakeholders to help close the deal as quickly and easily as possible.

New business is great – but don’t forget about your existing customers. They represent an opportunity to increase revenue and generate sales. AI can help make that happen. 

SEE ALSO: Can Artificial Intelligence Solve All of Your B2B Sales Problems?

Final Thoughts

Honestly, this is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the ways that Artificial Intelligence can change your business for the better. We’ve not even touched on things like prescriptive analytics, how it can mentor your sales team, or how it can free up your team by eliminating the need for them to do menial administrative tasks. It can do all of those things…and more.

We understand people’s initial trepidation when it comes to talking about Artificial Intelligence and how it can change the game for sales teams. We’ve sat through plenty of marketing presentations heavy on sizzle and short on steak that were about the “next big thing!” to hit the industry that never panned out.

That’s not the case with Artificial Intelligence. We’re already seeing companies that embrace AI making significant gains in revenue, sales velocity, and wins. Average win prices are going up, sales cycles are shortening, and more people are hitting their quotas.

The beauty of Artificial Intelligence in sales is that it’s still a relatively new technology. 

That’s a good thing for two reasons.

First, it means that there’s an opportunity to get on the wagon now and utilize the technology to get a leg up on your competition.

But even more importantly is that it means there are still a lot of huge advances to be made in the science. As amazing as AI is now, it’s still a field in its relative infancy from a technology standpoint. A year from now, five years from now, and a decade from now, the things we’re seeing today will seem sort of quaint.

That means this is a great time to jump in. Each new advance is only going to help your sales team become more effective and efficient.

Sales AI is going to be a big part of the future of sales – the longer you wait to embrace this exciting new technology, the further behind the curve you’ll be when you do finally get onboard. Don’t get caught playing catch up – get in on the action now.

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.

By Accent Technologies

23rd September 2020

AI in Sales the Accent Way

Combining human intelligence with artificial intelligence creates a very powerful team. Sales has lots of uncertainty, missing data, and the need for trust building with buyers—the human aspect of the partnership.

But another aspect, almost wholly unserved from an automation perspective, is the need to gather data on companies and buyers and analyze the sales engagement data in real time to prioritize deals and actions, uncover openings, and identify success and risk patterns to help reps and managers accelerate deal movement.

With guidance from human experts, machine Learning (ML) algorithms do this extremely well. Teaming reps with smart digital assistants, good at very specific tasks, turns average reps into super reps. The AI should seamlessly interact with team members so that it’s hardly noticeable—if at all. The biggest hurdle in deploying Sales AI is to avoid asking the human side to change behavior much or perform lots of new tasks. Humans typically don’t change behavior very well. So, minimize data entry requirements.