AI is making a big impact on how sales teams function. It won’t replace your sales manager, writes Suzie Blaszkiewicz, content editor for @GetApp, but the use of artificial intelligence in sales can automate some of the menial tasks involved in successfully closing a deal. The problem is that small businesses struggle with incorporating AI into their sales processes on a tight budget.
Gartner defines artificial intelligence as technology that “appears to emulate human performance.” Gartner further explains “It learns, comes to its own conclusions, appears to understand complex content, engages in natural dialogue with people, enhances human cognitive performance or replaces people in the execution of non routine tasks.”
Knowing which software to invest in, and what gives the biggest ROI, says the report, is daunting for small businesses that don’t know enough about AI to comfortably navigate the landscape. The easiest way to get started says the report, is by using sales tools with built-in AI capabilities. Many software tools have incorporated AI and machine learning into their offerings, allowing for an accessible introduction for small businesses looking to use artificial intelligence in their sales processes.
Predictions from Statista show steady year-over-year growth in revenue from AI, with an estimated total $396 billion gained from AI-related CRM activities by 2021. If you want a slice of this AI pie, you need to start incorporating artificial intelligence into your CRM (Customer relationship management) and sales recipe now, says the report.
Although the use of AI is broad and seemingly limitless across industries, its use in software technologies such as CRM generally takes two different forms:
Sales tasks that AI can make a lot easier, are summarized in the report::
Sales forecasting relies on historical data to make educated assumptions about what sales figures will look like in the future. It takes into account monthly sales figures and fluctuations due to seasonality to help sales managers better assign resources.
Traditionally, this has been a manual process that involves the sales manager interpreting data from previous periods to plan for upcoming sales cycles. For non-savvy sales managers, this is a daunting and time-consuming task.
According to research from Forbes, says the report, sales reps spend 33 percent of their time writing emails. Compare that with the 35 percent of their time spent actually selling, and you can see where there’s a huge opportunity for improving the balance between revenue-generating and non-revenue generating activities.
Personalization is a huge part of how AI-powered emails can help sales reps better target prospects with more accuracy and better messaging. Pulling data from previous interactions logged in your CRM will add individualized context to the email. Some solutions can even incorporate industry research including trends and statistics into email communication to add further personalization.
Generating highly qualified leads
Still a fairly manual task for sales teams. Once there are enough leads in the pipeline, sales reps need to keep track of where leads are in the sales cycle, which ones need following up with, and how likely they are to convert. Known as lead scoring, this means continuously going through a CRM to find hidden gems among a huge pool of potential customers and clients.
AI powered “tools”
AI-powered tools can scour the web for lead opportunities, removing the manual effort involved in the hunt for potential customers while also providing a list of highly valuable prospects likely to convert. After setting up parameters for the type of leads that you’re looking for, the process can be automated.
Performance management is one of the least likely tasks to be automated. It relies on a good sales manager to coach and mentor sales staff to grow within the company, says the report. This involves looking at past and current sales numbers for individual reps, seeing what’s available in the pipeline, and monitoring the progress of deals to see where there’s opportunity for team members to close.
Predictive analytics helps sales managers spend less time crunching numbers and monitoring sales calls, AI-powered features in sales tools can do it for them. AI features can spot opportunities for improvement and help sales reps take the next steps to close the deal.
Moving forward, AI will only play a bigger role in sales processes. It’s important that sales managers become champions for early adoption to get ahead of the curve and become familiar with the technology and its potential.