As we enter a new decade, businesses are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to improve operations, specifically in sales. According to Gartner, 37 percent of organizations have implemented some form of AI. It is quickly moving from a foreign concept to a must-have for businesses wanting to remain competitive. According to a 2019 survey by Dresner Advisory Services, marketing and sales prioritize AI more than any other department. There is enormous potential for AI to continue to grow in sales. We have already begun to see it drive more empowerment for sales, but it is only beginning. 2020 is going to be a massive year for companies looking to start their journey with AI in sales. Businesses that make AI part of their selling process will gain incredible advantages over their competition.

Here are four ways we will see the impact of artificial intelligence in sales.

More reliance on data

In an AI world, businesses have the opportunity to understand their data in ways that were not as realistic in the past due to the time and expenses required. As companies embrace AI in sales, they will gain a massive advantage over their competitors. Sales teams can leverage AI to score customer health, pipeline health and worker performance. Organizations will be better set up to act as advocates of their customers and anticipate their needs. When adopting AI, businesses will have to view data as a strategic asset that can lead to valuable customer insights.

Increase in CRM adoption

In the sales world, CRM is home to most data collected from customers. Too many companies leave their data sitting in their CRM and under utilize it. When the data is going to waste, employees are less likely to use the platform. Thanks to artificial intelligence, companies have an opportunity to become data-driven. Through this technology, an end-user in the CRM tool can receive predictive and prescriptive analytics that provide the next best steps throughout the customer life cycle. With these powerful insights delivered directly to sales reps, they are much more likely to adopt the CRM.

Changes in how we think

Too many technology companies claiming they can solve their customer’s problems with the push of a button. The introduction of AI is more than a feature.  Companies will require a whole new mindset to think programmatically about introducing predictive capabilities into their processes. This is not going to be a one-and-done project. It is about projects that require new skill sets and a willingness to be agile with continuous improvement over time. Businesses need to be educated about the success factors tied to their AI investment. This includes having a measurable end goal to determine value, plans to operationalize insights to be actionable at scale, and having a structure in place to drive change throughout the organization. It is not enough to invest in AI and gain insights from it, there must be action as a result of the insights.

A new approach to forecasting

Sales forecasting is known for being time-consuming and inaccurate, but AI is beginning to change that. Traditionally, companies have leaned on manual roll-ups from the field sales team to drive a forecast. But this results in a lot of time, money and effort for little to no benefit. As AI continues to take root in forecasting, the biggest advancement is the ability to explain predictions and make them actionable across the business.  This increases efficiency and actionability.  Businesses looking to maximize the value of forecasting should turn to AI.

There are plenty of use cases for AI in sales in any given business. As we enter the next decade, businesses that want to be competitive within their respective industry must turn to AI for predictions and recommendations to drive their sales. It is time to move out of the proof of concept and implement AI into your business. Look for AI to change the way you think as a business, and help you leverage the value of your data.

Geoff Birnes is the SVP of Customer Engagement and is responsible for Atrium’s customer outcomes. Geoff brings extensive experience in large scale business transformation programs across sales, marketing, service and middle office. Atrium is a next-generation consulting services company that helps advise, implement and optimize artificial intelligence and analytics solutions.

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