“Forrester made waves with a report that said that 20% of B2B sales jobs – 1 million in total – would disappear by 2020” says Chris Bucholtz at CSMWire. “Salespeople will need to evolve into subject matter experts – on both their own products and on the methods that those products can be delivered going forward. The sales arena is evolving rapidly due, in large part, to the paradigm shift brought on by the machine-learning or AI revolution. Here are four ways AI is changing Sales:
Predictive Lead Scoring & Sales Funnel Refinement
A data-driven culture is replacing the traditional intuition-driven sales culture.
Most sales professionals have a hunch, a mix of experience and guesswork, that helps them identify prospects that are most likely to buy their product. That hunch is now challenged by the emergence of AI solutions such as Salesforce Einstein that work on identifying leads with the highest propensity to successfully close based on big data that includes factors such as empirical sales data, social media data and existing customer profiles.
However, as any sales professional knows, lead prioritization is only half of the battle. After appropriately prioritizing leads, sales reps need to map out the most effective path to close. Enter AI algorithms that provide real-time recommendations and actionable advice that allow a sales reps to effectively leverage big data to determine the right actions to move the deal forward.
The third, and arguably the most important, step is continuously monitoring and analysis of sales effectiveness to validate the sales approach and to refine for optimality.
Sales Forecasting, Up-sells and Cross-sells
Predictive analytics tends to be a textbook example of how AI can augment human efforts and support increasingly accurate decision-making with a comprehensive understanding of future impact. Gone are the days of sales managers struggling to provide an accurate sales forecast. The daunting task now falls in the realm of machine learning where managers are now able to predict sales revenue with a high degree of accuracy which in turn helps organizations make better operational decisions.
In addition to robust forecasting, artificial intelligence is also changing the world of sales through expansion of share-of-wallet in the existing customer base. Answers to questions such as “which customer is likely to buy more” are much easier to answer through AI algorithms which help determine the customers with the highest likelihood of purchasing additional products and services. The net effect is a decrease in marketing costs and an
increase in overall organizational revenue.
Automation of Repetitive Tasks
Ironically, the advent of AI-based solutions is good news for less tech-savvy sales professionals. According to research, less than 36% of a sales reps time is spent selling. The remaining 64%, nearly two-thirds, of sales professionals’ time is spent on non revenue-generating activities. The new AI solutions attempt to automate the mundane tasks such as administration and data capture to allow sales reps more value-added time with prospects.
Sales Performance Management (SPM)
A critical aspect of a successful sales team is the organization’s ability to motivate, monitor and support the individual sales reps to effectively sell the company’s solutions. This practice is better-known as sales performance management.
Various solutions based on machine-learning algorithms tackle different aspects of SPM. Using compensation analytics to identify and address employee challenges in a timely fashion to increase employee retention, designing optimal compensation plans and incentives for targeted employee groups to support quota attainment and promote employee motivation through relevant incentives, and monitoring employee sentiment to better retain and engage employees are all examples of leveraging AI-based solutions for sales performance management. Moreover, sales performance management’s ascent into providing real-time answers utilizing chat-bots helps companies achieve higher levels of employee satisfaction, which in turn, results in high levels of talent retention.
With new AI-focused innovations continuously on the rise, organizations are constantly challenged with new ways of thinking. Innovyne partners with sales organizations to address technology-related decisions to achieve process automation, and improve transparency into their sales operations and incentive compensation processes.