If you think Artificial Intelligence (AI) has no role to play in sales, these statistics will make you think again:
- The growing importance of AI in sales: “1 in 4 sales teams use artificial intelligence in their day-to-day work.” In fact, further research by Garter suggests that “By 2020, 30% of all B2B companies will employ AI to augment at least one of their primary sales processes.”
- Wide-ranging benefits of AI in sales: As per a Harvard Business Review study, “Companies using AI for sales enjoyed an increase their leads by more than 50%, could reduce call time by 60-70%, and realize cost reductions of 40-60%.”
Clearly, the impact of AI in sales seems future-proof with businesses leveraging new ways of selling and connecting to customers, one AI-led innovation at a time. Let’s look at how you can integrate AI into your existing sales framework.
3 Proven Ways to Prepare for the Future of AI in Sales
1. Leverage AI-Powered Chatbots for Higher Sales & Better Customer Engagement
“40% of time spent on sales work activities can be automated by adapting current technologies.” – Harvard Business Review
Think about it: If you can automate repetitive, routine tasks, your agent’s workload would be lighter who can then focus on addressing customer concerns or enhancing the user experience. This is where chatbots truly shine. Chatbots, if programmed correctly, can lend their expertise in a variety of tasks, including:
- Collecting customer/product information to gauge and analyze customer needs
- Processing sales or other transactions
- Taking orders from customers and creating sales contracts
- Tracking communications and appointments
Moreover, automated chatbots can work at light speed and round-the-clock, tackling multiple customers at once, that too, without personal bias or human error. For cases when the bot is unable to address the customer’s queries, it can simply route the customer to the next available agent so that no customer goes home unanswered. All in all, you can think of chatbots as every customer’s personal sales assistant or a handy virtual guide.
Handy tip: When narrowing down on the kind of automated tools you should integrate, make sure to account for the following:
- What sales processes and systems can be automated?
- Which automation tools will best be able to align with – and deliver – strategic business goals?
2. Enjoy Accurate Sales Forecasting with AI-enabled Predictive Analytics
As mentioned earlier, AI-tools such as chatbots can collect key customer information, such as customer preferences, key areas visited on the website, most-preferred products/solutions by users, past engagements and purchase history, demographics, contact details, etc. in real-time. More importantly, AI can score and highlight the most profitable accounts, allowing your sales rep to prioritize leads and work in an organized and targeted capacity. This process of using historical data and AI to predict future sales is known as predictive analytics.
As you can imagine, analyzing this data mine holds the key to unlocking accurate sales forecasts, key trends, and user patterns in real-time. By getting an in-depth, qualitative, and transparent view of every deal in the pipeline, sales managers can chalk out accurate sales forecasts and use the AI-driven actionable insights to advance their deals and offers to customers. This works for everyone as the more relevant and personalized the deals, the better your customer experience is going to be. Additionally, it also helps build customer loyalty and trust.
3. AI Tools can Help Qualify Rich Leads
“Sales reps spend on average only 26.6 percent of their time selling to customers (13 hours per week), and 9.7 percent of their time talking to customers about escalations and other non-sales activity.”- Forrester
Another area where AI tools can work their charm is the time-taking lead gathering process. It can capture the customer’s contact details such as email ID, number, etc. and help qualify, follow up, and sustain the lead. With the foundational work underway, the agents can then take over and work towards ‘wowing’ the customers and building customer relationships instead of getting buried with tedious administrative, routine work. A smart move like this also helps reduce sales agent churn as the reps enjoy their work and find it more meaningful than simply crunching numbers and feeding data, all day every day, into the CRM.
Wrapping Up: The Future of Sales is AI-Driven
Let’s set the record straight: AI-powered tools and technologies cannot replace human agents. Especially, when it comes to the complex, empathetic, and creative job of closing deals, managing customer exceptions, building effective marketing and sales strategies, etc. which still requires a ‘human touch.’ That said, for all things automation-related, the ever-growing appeal of AI seems justified. So, make sure to empower your team with the required skill-sets, trainings, and expertise so that they can work in tandem with these intuitive tools.
Long story short, leverage both these vital elements in collaboration to take your sales game to the next level.
Dhruv Mehta is a Digital Marketing Professional who works at Acquire and provides solutions in the digital era. In his free time, he loves to write on tech and marketing. He is a frequent contributor to Tweak Your Biz. Connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.