The Role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Sales


The Role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Sales

Companies are increasingly embracing AI to help automate, scale, and enhance sales performance. More than ever, sales teams are turning to high-tech tools to streamline their sales process, improve efficiency, and convert more leads.

Top Performers Use Artificial Intelligence Sales Automation

Salesforce surveyed nearly 6,000 sales professionals in its State of Sales — 4th Edition and found that top performers are increasingly turning to AI and automation to connect with customers. Top-performing sales teams are using automation more than twice as often as underperformers in several cases. For example:

  • ‌64% of top performers are using AI to prioritize leads and opportunities. Only 30% of underperformers are leveraging technology.
  • ‌63% of top performers are using automation to determine what actions to take on accounts. Only 27% of underperformers are leveraging AI in sales.

The gap is only widening. Eight in ten sales professionals report that sales technology has changed the way they do their jobs significantly in the last two years. Besides virtual meetings, sales teams cite sales AI and sales prospecting tools among the top improvements.
Moreover, the use of artificial intelligence sales automation has increased by 76% since 2018.
AI does not replace humans for marketing or sales. It does, however, help teams automate repetitive tasks, enabling them to prioritize more effectively and close more deals by providing insights into a buyer’s behavior. 

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence creates simulations of human intelligence processes by computer and machine. Advanced AI incorporates natural language processing, speech recognition, and machine learning. By analyzing patterns and historical data and applying logic models through algorithms, AI can predict outcomes and recognize trends that might otherwise be missed.
AI can also sift through huge data sets and product insights that may not be obvious. 
Unilever’s algorithms, for example, found a link between ice cream and breakfast in songs. This led to the creation of a new line of ice creams flavored by Fruit Loops and Frosted Flakes. In another example, Sephora uses AI bots to interact with customers and offer personalized recommendations coupling historical data on past purchases and answers to bot questions.
AI in sales is being employed in a variety of ways, including engaging with leads using conversational AI and nurturing leads to drive them through the customer journey. Artificial intelligence sales automation can qualify and score leads more accurately and use data to fast-track high-value leads.

‌Machine Learning

Machine learning is part of AI and plays an important role. It also uses algorithms to analyze data similar to the way humans learn to gradually improve accuracy. The more data that is accumulated, the more AI programs learn. 
For example, call center software may use AI for speech recognition. Over time, the algorithm will be able to connect words and phrases that lead to higher conversion rates. When these words surface during conversations with customer service agents or sales teams, the AI can suggest actions most likely to lead to faster resolutions and increased sales.
Conversational AI can create human-like interactions via SMS text messaging backed by data to help move buyers forward in their customer journey.

How Does AI Increase Sales Performance?

‌A Forrester Research project showed that sales reps spend on average only 26% of their time actively selling. That’s a little more than 10 hours per week interacting with prospects and customers on sales-related activities.
Consider how much more revenue you could generate if you could:

  • Reduce the amount of time sales reps spend doing data entry
  • Automatically schedule demos and appointments
  • ‌Update reports and notes
  • ‌Automate the nurturing process
  • ‌Provide higher-quality leads to sales teams

AI in sales can do all of that.

Better Use of Sales Rep’s Time

When you let automation handle many manual tasks, you free up time for your sales team to focus on working with sales-qualified leads (SQLs) and closing more deals. You also increase the quality of leads through lead scoring and prioritization.

Lead scoring

Sales teams can spend a lot of time pre-qualifying leads. They can also waste a lot of time chasing after low-quality leads that are unlikely to convert. Sales AI excels at scoring leads to qualify and detects high-quality leads. Based on historical data, customer information, industry buying trends, and company and third-party data, a more accurate lead scoring model is enabled.

Lead prioritization

AI also helps to prioritize leads. When leads take certain triggering actions, such as asking for a demo, automation can schedule it without the need for human intervention and flag it for follow-up. If a request for a quote comes in, automation can prioritize the lead so the sales team can act on it immediately.

Improved Sales Forecasting

Forecasting is essential in business. You need to carefully manage your expenses and revenue to ensure there’s enough cash coming in to run your business efficiently and generate the profits you need. 
AI increases the accuracy of your sales forecast. Not only can you get a real-time view into your sales pipeline, but predictive analytics can assess deals based on buying signals to more accurately create forecasts. A study in the Harvard Business Review reported that sales forecasting based on demand drivers — rather than prior outcomes — can improve sales forecasting accuracy by 10% to 20%.

Enhanced Understanding of Customer’s Needs

When you capture multiple data points within your system, you can leverage the power of AI in sales to better understand your customer’s needs. You get a more holistic view of a customer, including tracking their past interactions.
For example, you might track where they’ve gone on your website and how much time they’ve spent on specific products or content. With AI, you would know which email marketing messages they opened and which ones led to a website visit. AI can detect patterns to help salespeople decide the best course of action.
Marketing automation, as part of the sales process, can use this data to continue to nurture prospects in their buying journey by providing relevant content that is more likely to lead to conversions.

Prediction of Customer Needs

AI in sales can also analyze data to predict customer needs and suggest the next steps for marketing and sales teams.
Let’s say you have a sales rep that has been in the business for a decade and has worked with hundreds of customers. The accumulated knowledge helps the salesperson know what actions to take next. With AI, you can leverage the knowledge from your entire sales team and put it to use. In some organizations, this can mean consolidating tens of thousands of interactions and data points to help predict the best course of action to increase conversions.
AI allows marketing and sales teams to further personalize and refine marketing messages and sales strategies.

Better Accountability
With AI, sales managers will have better insight into the health of their sales pipeline. They will also gain deeper perspectives on both team and individual performance.
The same AI tools that can be applied to a buyer’s behavior can also track a sales rep’s performance to give you better visibility. You can monitor team performance and individual performance against the team. Algorithms can help you see where deals get stuck and what actions lead to conversions.
This information can help you analyze the behavior of your top performers and provide actionable insight for coaching.

Improved Customer Engagement

When you are providing relevant information for customers, engagement naturally improves. By automatically segmenting prospects, analyzing trends, and tracking historical performance, AI can develop comprehensive customer profiles, leading to a better overall customer experience.
AI can increase revenue from upselling or cross-selling by predicting which products or services are right for individual customers. Sales teams will have a better idea of what the customer needs and can make recommendations before customers ask for them.

Use AI to Supercharge Your Growth

A McKinsey research report estimates that AI can generate between $1.4 and $2.6 trillion of additional value in marketing and sales. The information gathered from customers along with machine learning could provide more than double that value.
We’re well past the time when sales organizations should be thinking about whether they need to invest in AI and automation solutions for sales. Sales teams should be focusing their attention on which AI and automation tools are best for their business and how they can best leverage the power of these technologies to supercharge their growth.

Automate Your Nurturing Process and Close More Deals

Aktify uses conversational AI SMS to unlock sales revenue. Our platform helps sales teams uncover better leads by nurturing them using advanced AI models, natural language processing, and deep learning. With automated outreach and persistent follow-up, Aktify keeps prospects engaged until they are ready to buy.
We nurture interested leads with conversational AI. When leads are pre-qualified, the AI handles the scheduling and transfers the leads with the highest intent directly to your sales team. This eliminates many manual tasks, creates greater efficiency, and lets your sales team focus on converting high-quality leads.
To book a demo or learn more about Aktify, contact us today.

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