The world of sales is poised to be revolutionized by AI technology. With the IDC projecting that worldwide revenues from AI will reach $47 billion by 2020, it's safe to say that this technology is here to stay. But how does AI fold into sales? AI is a catchall phrase that includes things like predictive analytics, Internet of Things, machine learning, language processing, deep learning and big data. You're already using AI without realizing it. Every time you do a Google search or scroll through your Facebook feed, AI is in the background personalizing your online experience. As a result of these "in the background" technologies, consumers are becoming accustomed to living in a world that adjusts to their preferences and needs. Modern human sales teams are now competing against high-performing teams that use the latest AI tech to help boost their productivity. AI is a digital colleague that does things like take over mundane tasks, give sales teams deeper insights into their customer base, and helps with cross-team collaboration.
Automate Mundane Tasks
According to a study conducted by Inside Sales, 64 percent of salespeople spend most of their time on non-revenue generating tasks such as arranging their schedules and account maintenance. AI can help sales reps by automating several manual tasks, making sales teams more effective and productive. Although AI automation has been one of the biggest productivity boosters of recent times, it can be overlooked or treated with skepticism. "Using AI to auto-generate a weekly status report or pick the top five emails in your inbox doesn't have the same wow factor as, say, curing a disease would, which is why these near-term, practical uses go unnoticed," says Craig Roth, Research Vice President of Gartner. However, these benefits shouldn't be disregarded, with a recent report finding that businesses can thank AI for a 44 percent increase in their teams' productivity. High-performing sales teams are already using AI to generate reports, collate documents, create call lists for hot leads, and automate data entry into CRMs.
Businesses are also using AI to enhance prospect and customer experiences, and to help sales teams make high-level decisions quickly and accurately. Additionally, CRM technology is becoming smarter, learning from interactions with the data. AI algorithms within CRMs help sales reps by automating segmentation, purchase history, online interactions, and other attributes. For example, a CRM can flag a sales rep when a prospect has opened an email. The sales rep can then place a perfectly-timed call when the prospect has them top of mind. “AI...work together to provide insights from historical CRM and company data, or even external data sources across industries and verticals. These insights will play a major role in empowering sales reps and enabling them to (make) the right decisions to close deals fast," said Srivatsan Venkatesan, Freshsales CRM product head. Suffice to say that AI is critical in helping high-performing sales teams with lead scoring and flagging which leads are ready to go through the next stage of the sales cycle. These processes take the guesswork out of their sales process by telling sales teams next steps to close deals. In order for sales teams to stay ahead of their competitors and close more deals than ever before, while still delivering a top-notch buying experience, they must go beyond using their CRM as an expensive Rolodex. AI should be looked upon as a tool that helps sales teams get that extra edge in a highly competitive environment.
The Larger Digital Transformation Conversation
The advance of AI technology in sales organizations is just one piece of the greater digital transformation wave hitting the business world. Leaders in advanced stages of digital transformation are connecting systems to customers, enabling automation to reduce unnecessary manual processes and quickly analyzing new data to identify areas of opportunity. As a result, digital transformation leaders are now collecting massive amounts of data, and that data is impossible to leverage effectively if it lives across systems and clouds that are not consistent or connected. Companies must invest in the right technologies as they make their transformation to ensure the increased amount of data they are collecting is connected across systems, so that it may be analyzed, understood, and integrated back in the business to deliver its full potential. Conga provides a connected suite of digital transformation solutions, helping organizations to simplify user experiences and increase productivity through visual process automation. Learn more about how Conga is transforming business processes, or join us at the Thirsty Bear Brewing Co. during Dreamforce 2018 for an up-close and personal view of how we are modernizing businesses through digital transformation.