Sales is hard. Conversion rates are low and sales cycle is longer. Your customers don’t just take out their credit cards to buy things. They need hand-holding and a lot of validation. You need to make calls, meet them in person, answer their concerns and continue to guide them after sales to ensure that you build a healthy relationship with them. Artificial intelligence can make this a bit easier.
As a sales leader, you may be hearing that artificial intelligence will rule the world. You hear giants like Dell and Cisco using AI in sales. You imagine a future where all sales is done by cheap yet effective AI asisstants. We are not there yet essentially because AI is not as mature enough to handle complex conversations and relationship building required in sales. AI today does not aim to replace sales reps but acts as an assistant to
- Help them automate repetitive tasks like data entry and meeting scheduling or complicated jobs that do not require personal relationships like sales forecasting
- Enable them to prioritize more effectively and become a better sales person by highlighting patterns in customer responses
- Provide team leaders with detailed analytics on all communication between sales reps and potential clients including emails, phone calls and chats.
We have identified 11 artificial intelligence use cases and structured these use cases around 4 key activities of today’s sales leaders. We are currently focused on inside sales, for example a retail sales function has different main activities and therefore different AI use cases. Our framework is by no means comprehensive but it is ever improving so please let us know if you have any comments and suggestions:Primary sales activities and AI use cases in these activities are:
1- Forecast sales
Forecasts are complicated but automatable. AI allows automatic and accurate sales forecast based on all customer contacts and previous sales outcomes. Give your sales personnel more sales time while increasing forecast accuracy.
Enable sales reps
Better prioritization can enable sales reps to better use their time. Sales reps normally leverage their experience from the last 5-10 years to decide which prospect to focus on. However, AI systems can leverage data from hundreds of sales reps to understand the factors that increase a prospect’s likelihood to buy and help your sales reps focus on the right prospects.
2- Lead generation: If you like your sales reps, give them leads! Without leads, sales reps spend precious time searching for leads instead of closing deals. For more info, please visit our explanatory article about lead generation.
3- Predictive sales/lead scoring: After lead generation, it is necessary to determine priority of leads. These platforms score customers’ likelihood of converting based on 3rd party and company data, allowing your sales reps to prioritize effectively. For more info, please visit our explanatory article about predictive sales.
4- Sales content personalization and analytics: Once priority customers are decided, sales reps serve them better with sales content personalized to their needs and preferences.
5- Sales rep next action suggestions: AI will analyze your sales reps actions and leads will be analyzed to suggest the next best action. No one wants to waste time on email setting up a demo, when they could be closing another deal.
Automate sales activities
Simple activities or activities that do not require relationship building can be automated.
6- Sales data input automation: AI will synch data from various sources effortlessly and intelligently into your CRM
7- Sales rep response suggestions: AI will suggest responses during live conversations or written messages with leads
8- Meeting setup automation (digital assistant): Leave AI to set up meetings freeing your sales reps time. For example, Calendy links e-mails and conversations to your calendar while Clara responds to your e-mails and organizes your meetings.
9- Sales rep chat/email bot: Leave AI to do all the talking until she is ready to handover
10- Sales rep chat/email bot: Physical bots are trialed in various types of stores. Lowe’s has been experimenting with LoweBot in collaboration with Fellow Robotics since 2016.
Sales analytics & performance manage reps
11- Sales attribution: Leverage big data to attribute sales to marketing and sales efforts accurately
12- Customer sales contact analytics: Analyze all customer contacts including phone calls or emails to understand what behaviors and actions drive sales. Share these insights with all your salesforce to promote productivity
Now that you know about AI applications in sales, you can read more about these application in our section on AI in sales. Or you can check out AI applications in marketing, customer service, IT, data or analytics. And if you have a business problem for which there could be an AI based solution: