A CSO Insights survey of almost 1,000 salespeople showed a significant drop in those meeting their annual sales target between 2012 and 2019. As prospects have access to online information and see less of salespeople as part of the buying journey, salespeople aren’t sure what to do with their time.
Another report suggests that over 60% of salespeople spend time on non-revenue-producing activities. Overall, sales teams are in danger of becoming less effective and, thus, missing their sales targets. In this article, we discuss the application of AI in a sales process and why it could lead to better results.
Why use AI in sales?
Adopting Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be a game-changer for sales teams. General AI tools are designed to help teams save time and increase productivity. Our recent article discussed how AI tools help marketers create more powerful content strategies. The same is true for sales. In fact, Gartner predicts that, by 2025, three-quarters of B2B sales organisations will expand traditional sales solutions with artificial intelligence software. AI is helping businesses increase leads, qualify them faster and amplify sales performance, as this technology can automate a large percentage of the sales process.
AI can transform how your team sells by using data. A typical example of how AI is applied in sales is using chatbots. Using natural language processing (NLP) algorithms, chatbots can understand customer queries and respond to them in real time, providing a personalised experience for customers.
Imagine a customer visiting your website looking for a specific product or service. The chatbot can ask pertinent questions and respond, helping to build trust and increase the likelihood that the customer moves to the next stage of the sales process.
The benefits of AI in sales
AI can analyse, simplify and optimise sales processes. Although sales AI is not used as widely as marketing, where 84% of organisations currently use it, the implementation has increased in recent years. 57% of high-performing sales organisations have introduced software to improve internal sales processes and enhance customer experience. AI is changing the sales function for good, including how salespeople consider each step of the sales process, from prospecting and qualifying to closing sales and follow-up. One advantage of improving the sales process is you can reduce sales cycle length and pipeline velocity. Therefore, you close more deals faster.
According to salespeople, AI’s most significant impact is understanding customer needs, as these needs tend to evolve quickly. Understanding trends and acting on them is vital to driving better sales results.
In addition to improving the understanding of customers’ needs, a HubSpot survey revealed that 61% of sales teams that exceeded their revenue goals capitalised on automation in their sales processes. We often have a standard sales process, continuously improving as you learn and gather more data. AI provides deeper insights and consistency to a process so that your sales team identifies bottlenecks, tackles objections early, and executes the rest of the process.
Research published by Harvard Business Review stated that businesses using AI in sales could reduce call time by 60-70% and increase leads by around 50%. These stats are impressive. They get even better when you consider teams can spend more time on other sales cycle elements like closing deals.
Other considerations when using AI for sales
Like everything, technology will always have some drawbacks. In a recent article, Will AI Really Help You Sell, George Brontén, CEO of Membrain notes, “Until you take the time to design a sales strategy, process, playbooks, training, coaching and enablement that empower your sales team in HOW to sell, AI can only at best be a useful productivity tool.”
Low data quality and insufficient attention to upskilling and training employees are common problems. Your data must be high quality and reliable – “rubbish in, rubbish out”. Consider the accessibility and governance around your data too.
Your employees must have specific skills to utilise AI’s capabilities, especially in optimisation, data management and integration. Do not put AI tools in place without adequate research and ensuring the tool will benefit the organisation. AI often comes with a significant investment of time and money.
AI is revolutionising the sales process, enabling sales teams to engage with customers at each step. By automating routine tasks and providing valuable insights, AI is helping salespeople focus on building relationships and closing deals. As AI evolves, it will become an increasingly important tool in the sales arsenal. Businesses can stay ahead of the competition and achieve better results through a more intelligent sales process.
To find out more about creating a sales process for your business and AI tools to consider: