By Jessica True - Senior Director, Marketing Strategy, Dialpad
Artificial intelligence. If you have ever wondered where technology is headed, simply look at the meteoric rise that AI has seen over the last few years, with the introduction of technologies like face recognition and virtual assistants. Whether you’re running an electrical engineering firm in Mumbai, or a Calgary-based business phone system, the benefits that AI can have for your business are astounding.
In sales, in particular, many aspects of AI can be used to boost performance by working in conjunction with an existing team. From predicting sales numbers to automating various systems, AI can cover a wide range of areas to improve efficiency and help guide your sales associates to success. The potential of AI in sales is immense, and successfully incorporating it into your team could be the next big step to growing your business.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
If you had mentioned the term ‘AI’ a few decades ago, it likely would have conjured up images of the Matrix or Terminator. Evil machines bent on destroying humanity. Fortunately, we have yet to reach that particular stage of AI. Instead, we have predictive algorithms, writing assistants, and content generators - all useful tools that can help us in our daily activities.
In most cases, AI focuses on “machine learning”. It intakes available information, interprets it, and then uses it to make decisions. It is this process that guides self-driving cars or recommends shows to you on Netflix. As the technology continues to develop, many businesses are beginning to recognize the value that AI can have within their organization, and have begun seeking out ways to maximize its effectiveness.
Just as an AI would use vehicle and traffic data to drive a car, it can learn to interpret the data that you provide to help you achieve your goals. For sales, this means interpreting things like sales data, previous interactions with key clients, and important market changes. With this information, it can provide you with in-depth knowledge of your sales history, and help you determine the steps you need to take to optimize your business for the future.
Given where it is normally highlighted - in super-cars and computer systems - you might think that artificial intelligence is not something your business needs. However, the value of AI in sales cannot be understated. According to one recent study, 81% of people felt that lacking AI sales tools would put you at a significant disadvantage. Therefore, it is important to know exactly how to supercharge your sales performance with AI, so that you don’t get left behind.
You’re close to securing the business of a client. You know they are interested in your product and will be willing to buy, provided that the price you quote meets their expectations. One wrong move at this stage could be enough for them to lose interest in your service, or even move to one of your competitors. How do you maximize your profit whilst keeping the client interested?
Unless they have done a significant amount of research about the client, an employee may find this difficult. There is plenty of research that can help guide a seller when pitching prices, even down to the personality of the buyer, and their sales experience will no doubt help them estimate a price, but an effective AI can help just as much. It can examine previous transactions, the size of the company, its annual revenue, and other aspects that might influence their willingness to accept any given deal.
With all of this information at hand, AI can help support your sales team by suggesting exactly what prices you should offer a client, balancing your interests with their own. Thereby avoiding any potential pitfalls and increasing the likelihood of a sale.
Automating the Simple Things
In the day-to-day running of any business, certain tasks will be more “valuable” than others. These are the tasks that will see the greatest return for the time and effort that is put in; the ones that you want your team to focus on as much as possible. Sales calls direct to clients. Liaising with dormant or inactive accounts, in order to win back their patronage. Against these, mundane tasks like scheduling can quickly eat into an employee’s time.
This is where AI can step in. After all, why waste someone’s time when you can let a robot do the simple stuff? Just as calculators save time by automating sums, AI can automate any number of basic tasks. From managing your calendar to organizing client information, or even fully automating low-level sales. Even basic services that provide an email template, can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your sales team, by allowing them to focus on important tasks.
As companies grow, so too does their sales team. Each salesperson will interact with different clients and become experienced in certain fields. Some will excel in negotiating with local retailers, whilst others might be experts in ecommerce marketing strategies. For a manager, it might be difficult to determine exactly which member of their team is best suited to approach a particular client, but for an AI it can be significantly easier.
Using the data that has been made available to it, an AI is capable of closely examining your sales team. Where they have succeeded and failed, their area of expertise. Where they were able to win clients over and, most importantly, why. In a fraction of the time it would take a human, an AI can review the entire sales history of every employee.
From there they can suggest the team members that are best suited to the task, who are most likely to interact with the client and come back with a successful sale. It allows you to streamline your work, ensuring that the right job goes to the right person to maximize your success.
As much as any one person can know, a computer will always know more. On a bad day, some people can hardly remember what they had for breakfast, let alone the fine details of a particular company’s portfolio. Without knowing who to prioritize, they might spend the entire day without ever coming close to a sale. So, how do they know which calls are most likely to result in a sale, or in a significant purchase?
AI, as you might expect from the rest of this article, is the answer. With the right algorithm in place, an AI system can take an in-depth look at your potential clients, and generate scores for them based on previous interactions, transactions, and social media data. Knowing these scores will allow a sales team to see where they are more likely to succeed, and target specific clients, greatly increasing the odds of a sale.
In business, knowing what is going to happen is valuable beyond compare. Any company that had the power to predict exactly how the market would change, would be able control it forevermore. With AI, we can come about as close to foresight as possible, a fact that is reflected by corporate investment the technology:
Using historical data, an effective AI system can determine which sales are most likely to close, the potential of new clients, and even the quarterly performance of a particular team. It can help inform your decisions, so that you react effectively to the market around you.
At this point in time, many companies are already taking advantage of these benefits, whilst still investing further in the technology. Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple all make use of AI technology in some capacity, and have even begun developing new products that rely on it - such as Amazon’s supermarket concept, Amazon Go - based on the current market.
Supporting Your Sales Team
It is important to remember that, for all of its benefits, AI is still a relatively new technology. It cannot be solely relied upon to initiate, close and log all of your sales, or act as a regular human would. Unless you want your customers listening to monotonous droning or to some lifeless text-to-speech system, you still need humans at the helm to succeed, working in tandem with your AI systems.
With the knowledge those systems can provide and training to use them effectively, you will see improvements across the board - a reduction in time spent on low-value tasks, greater success when initiating and closing sales, all while prioritizing the most valuable customers, thanks to the information they have in front of them. They will become masters of adaptive selling, with a strategy tailored to each individual client, constructed by an AI that knows everything about them.
The Future of Business
Whether or not you currently incorporate AI systems as a part of your company, it is important to recognize the impact they will have on the future of business. The global AI market is expected to grow to $1.81 trillion by 2030, across all sectors. As the technology continues to advance, so too will its role in the corporate world.
Those that learn how to take advantage of AI technologies, and the benefits they provide, will no doubt see far greater success than their competitors, and become the industry leaders of the future.
Jessica True is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a modern business communications platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities using a virtual phone number in Canada. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. View her LinkedIn.
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