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You already knew that artificial intelligence can drive cars, but did you know that it can also drive sales?
That is because artificial intelligence has changed nearly everything and sales are no exception.
AI tools fuel our buying choices every day - right from our favorite voice assistants to watching our favorite shows, it's everywhere!
Artificial intelligence is playing a major role in most organizations and forward-thinking companies are catching on to it.
According to a Salesforce State of Sales report, sales leaders expect their AI adoption to grow faster than any other technology.
And, in sales, the need to automate admin and non-sales activity is vital.
AI in sales can help you increase your time spent on selling activities by automating administrative tasks and analyzing your everyday work to help you improve overall productivity.
But first, what is artificial intelligence for sales? How can it help sales teams to sell more?
In this guide, we'll discuss -
- What is AI for sales?
- How AI plays an important role in sales
- Types of AI in sales
- 7 ways to leverage AI for sales to boost your revenue engine
- 4 examples of AI in sales
- Will AI in sales replace salespeople?
- The future of artificial intelligence in sales
Let's dive in.
What is AI for Sales?
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is a blanket term that covers a myriad of technologies like machine learning, NLP, NLU & NLG, computer vision, deep learning, and more.
At their core, all of the technologies mentioned assist machines perform specific cognitive tasks as well as, or better than human involvement.
When it comes to sales, AI is not just used to sort out tons of data generated by sales teams can be leveraged by teams to make data-driven decisions with features such as sentiment analysis, enhanced customer service, automate repetitive tasks, and more.
Sales managers can now make accurate predictions, recommendations, and decisions backed by data to boost your revenue.
What is the Role of AI in Sales?
For profitable businesses, artificial intelligence for sales teams means a greater ability to organize mountains of eye-opening data in real-time and use it again to gain deeper insights into customer data and buying habits.
Although some important decisions can be left to an actual human salesperson, such as reading body language, navigating complex-decision making, and interpreting customers' tone of voice.
However, artificial intelligence only expedites this process giving more room for sales teams to focus on making a sale.
These functions could range from retrieving purchase history, and social media activities, to drafting emails with templates, market trends, and more.
Additionally, AI tools can also help in revenue forecasting, analyzing customer behavior, identifying leads with high purchase intent based on their interaction with the brand, and uncovering other relevant insights on customers that can help personalize their buying experience.
The role of AI in sales is to leverage data analysis algorithms to handle cognitive work that is too heavy for sales teams to actually handle on their own.
It also means less human involvement and reliance on human intervention, which can be hard to retain in traditional sales teams.
Now, this brings us to the next part - why does AI play a vital role in sales?
AI Plays a Vital Role in Sales - How?
Sales managers are perpetually looking to optimize performance to achieve optimum results, and this is where artificial intelligence and machine learning tools come into play.
On the sales side, AI is all about accelerating the sales cycle, sales tracking, and making more room for more productive interactions.
However, contrary to what people think, artificial intelligence is not going to replace human reps. In fact, it can help sales teams quite a lot.
It gives sales reps the right insights and tools to work smarter and form better relationships with potential customers and existing customers, boosting their ability to reach their sales goals.
By handing over excessive data-driven tasks to AI tools, sales teams can have more time to develop and reap the awards for their individual selling skills.
An intelligent sales organization can be proactive instead of reactive to navigate the ever-changing market landscape.
5 Types of AI Techniques for Sales Operations
Different data types require different variations of AI tools.
Here are four types of AI for sales teams used across industries globally -
#1 AI Analytics
AI analytics is a tool that takes a deep dive into your raw sales data to interpret patterns for sales organizations to make data-backed decisions.
AI analytics can detect anomalies and alert you in real-time and save data analysts hours of time and help you increase sales.
Businesses typically handle a lot of data to use for different purposes, and AI analytics aids sales personnel and helps in closing deals more often.
#2 Natural Language Processing
Natural language processing or, NLP, is designed to understand and interpret to respond naturally to human speech - written and verbal - in the most human-like manner.
With the help of computational linguistics, NLP not only endeavors to understand the human language being used, but also interprets the intentions and sentiment analysis behind the words.
NLP is a tool that most people have interacted with in the past - this AI technology is already being leveraged to innovate digital voice assistants, speech-to-text programs, and customer service chatbots.
#3 Smart Process Automation
Smart process automation, or SPA, is robotic automation with machine learning.
SPA identifies the need for human intervention during an automated process in order to take the next ideal step forward to enhance overall sales performance.
It loops human counterparts into the sales process, and then uses human-made decisions to predict solutions for similar circumstances in the future.
Smart process automation is not an entirely human-free tool but still counts as AI because of its machine learning properties that make it more efficient over time.
#4 Predictive Analytics
Predictive analytics is a type of artificial intelligence tool that tries to estimate what may happen in the future.
The tool has the capacity to do so by identifying the factors that influence a predictive outcome and understanding the process to do so.
This feature is from diagnostic analytics which tries to explain the reasoning behind why something happens. Sales forecasting typically leans on predictive analytics models to advise sales pipeline planning.
#5 Optimization and Prescriptive Analytics
This form of analytics uses optimization techniques to recommend the best course of action when a complex decision involves hindrances between business constraints and objectives.
Also known as a recommender system, this type of AI-powered tool can identify and suggest cross-selling and upselling opportunities to sellers and sales managers.
7 Ways to Leverage AI for Sales to Boost your Revenue Engine
AI systems with automation are a great tool to gather data, storing excessive data from other channels such as CRMs, and other sales supporting tools in your tech stack.
By gathering the correct data, and ensuring it is organized and interconnected correctly, you can leverage machine learning and AI to uncover trends, improve the marketing landscape of your company, and highlight customer opportunities.
Apart from that, here are 7 primary ways to leverage AI for sales to boost your revenue engine for high-performing teams -
#1 Lead Generation and Scoring to Refine your Sales Funnel
The art of selling can be a hit or miss.
A sales team can spend all their time trying to sell to leads who do not care about your product/service, and when this happens, the entire blame cannot be shifted to the salesperson alone.
As a result of this, it is inevitable that 75% of the leads are a waste of time.
The lack of sufficient data on leads typically leaves sales teams clutching at straws.
Organizations struggle to make an impact in their niche without a solid market and customer intelligence. However, with data, these dynamics can shift.
Take things up a notch by instructing your sales teams to track prospects and existing customers' online activities, via an AI-powered CRM. This way, you can have hands-on better references to understand your targeted prospects better and sell better.
Leveraging AI technology enables sales reps to reach verdicts based on lead scoring from the tool. This data-driven approach has a net effect of improving sales productivity.
Having an AI tool allows you to have more accurate results and engage leads in real-time before assigning them to the right sales rep to guide them along the sales funnel.
#2 Personalize Customer Experiences
Personalization is not just a buzzword in the world of sales and it surely is not a passing fad too.
Personalization works; modern customers, in fact, expect personalization, and thus, the generic sales and marketing landscape is now obsolete.
Statistics prove just this.
Although AI isn't overly necessary for personalization, it assists your sales teams to deliver a hyper-relevant, unique customer experience to every individual.
#3 Sales Predictions and Sales Forecasting
Sales predictions and sales forecast accuracy are crucial for any organization.
It supports future decisions with realistic expectations, right from resource allocation and analyzing the chances of prospect conversion, to even understanding your existing product features.
Artificial intelligence helps sales managers understand the current trends and their path to meeting sales goals every quarter and prioritize prospects that have a high tendency to convert with sales prediction and forecasting.
If your team is still using excel sheets, emails, or Slack messages, it's time to shift to an intuitive AI tool that helps you unravel the story behind every deal.
AI-enabled organizations accurately forecast and plan accordingly.
With AI, a sales rep can -
- Determine exactly which deals to prioritize on
- Discover leads that have a high probability to make a purchase
- Arise new opportunities that might enhance your sales revenue
AI enabled forecasting, elicits value by providing teams with real-time insights that can be leveraged to develop winning sales strategy, especially for sales managers.
Accordingly, this helps them to personalize their sales coaching and training to specific individual sales reps and thus, improve their sales attribution based on factual numbers.
#4 Improved Customer Service with Chatbots
Identifying promising leads is only part of a sales representative's homework.
Regardless of the industry your product/service specializes in, providing round-the-clock customer service is essential.
Chatbots are ubiquitous in the modern sales landscape.
Despite the reluctance of some customers towards this technology, they are already interacting with it on a daily basis in some capacity.
AI-powered chatbots are not just voiced assistants for smartphones - they have features beyond that, which help companies improve their customer service.
Customer service chats based chatbots, that is, artificial intelligence has the capacity to converse with the buyer, can clarify doubts and questions about your product, consult stock, make suggestions, and even complete the purchase and payment process.
AI-based chatbots have become an integral part of a company's tech stack as they offer 24/7 service and increase their agility by answering short and easy-to-solve queries.
In addition, in time, they learn to respond to prospects in the most human-like manner, thus, completely reducing the need for human involvement during the sales process.
#5 Reduce Churn Rates and Uncover Upselling Opportunities
It is a well known fact that it is easier to retain than gain a new customer. And AI can analyze customer behavior and red flag churn signs.
For instance, if a customer is repeatedly getting stuck using a particular feature or isn’t using all the features or using the product for far fewer time than others, it is a clear sign that they aren’t finding enough value in the product, and are likely to churn.
Similarly, AI can determine the usage pattern, and identify if the customer is ready to upgrade to multiple other features or to buy more, leading to higher revenues.
#6 Boost Overall Sales Productivity
Instead of counting on your sales representatives to just wing it, AI tools, in fact, has the capacity to streamline your sales processes and automate workflows.
Task delegation and lead prioritization are going to be a breeze with automation.
AI systems do a phenomenal job at boosting your sales representatives' productivity because it does not just identify the most promising leads, but also allocate the best reps, automate repetitive tasks, alert the right sales enablement content to pass on, and more.
The analytical aspect of AI systems is crucial for any high-performing team because it has the ability to figure out which strategies work as opposed to the ones that do not.
As part of the decision-making process, these features will assist you to source reliable reports on the best course of action and deciding on the ones that need to be implemented across the organization.
#7 Improved Sales Management
Predictive analytics has proved to be an invaluable tool for sales management. With predictive analytics, sales managers can get accurate sales forecasts and deep insights to help them structure their sales teams, and thus close more deals.
With AI-powered tools, you can get -
- Better accurate sales quotas: Create more realistic expectations around sales quotas to achieve high revenue rates while incorporating factors to improve your sales reps’ performance.
- Upgrade pricing and sales territories: Regardless of your geographic location and concrete pricing systems, analytics can help your sales reps align sales expertise and resources with territories to deliver the best results.
- Updates staffing: Predict changes in staffing demands for the upcoming quarter with predictive analytics.
- Realigning sales policies: Predictive analytics can also predict new selling models, including revenue distribution.
Examples of AI in Sales
AI comes in many shapes, forms, sizes, and applications.
Right from search queries, to gaming, and personalization to intuitive document recognition - we use artificial intelligence without even knowing it.
In recent years, however, the number of applications and fields where AI and machine learning are prominent has continued to grow with ample use-cases.
But, what about sales?
AI-powered tools such as CRMs, chatbots, sales intelligent tools, and more, help companies nurture a healthy relationship with their customers, understand customer behavior better, respond to their queries, give you deep insights, and more.
Here are four examples of AI in sales in the real world -
Walmart has deployed AI in all its physical stores to assist its employees in running all their stores in a hassle-free manner without any interruptions.
By employing video cameras, sensors and other tech, employees can be alerted when the stocks run low, and they can suitably stack in the rows to ensure the product never runs out. This eliminates the need for employees to manually inspect every aisle, and improves efficiency.
Image processing and visual data could drastically improve the productivity of offline stores. By deploying AI tools in all workspaces, artificial intelligence can efficiently manage inspections that can go unnoticed by humans.
We're already aware of the many AI-related applications that Apple devices come with.
In 2019, Apple acquired several capabilities to improve its processes: -
- Higher relevance for Siri results.
- Improve the efficiency of self-driving cars.
- Improve Iphone photo capabilities with AI
- Allow users to search using photos, thereby allowing users to shop using photographs than just search terms
Artificial intelligence presents business with an opportunity to personalize the buying experience like no other.
Personalization is the key to unparalleled service. By understanding customer behavior deeply with the help of sentiment analysis, real-time cues, and more, organizations can elevate their service to improve their customer interactions drastically.
The partnership reduced the time spent by underwriters in collecting information on customer profiles.
By structuring customer data in an efficient way, the organization hopes to drastically reduce the time it takes to process a sales cycle.
This example illustrates the vital role played by AI in drawing insights from customer data.
Irrespective of whether the organization is an enterprise or a budding start-up, AI-powered tools speed up the process and bring in greater efficiency.
Once trained, AI tools can continually improve by learning from their past interactions, which means that the ROI of your company grows continually with time.
This also explains why a lot of companies consistently adopt AI with such urgency.
Artificial intelligence applications in sales have a powerful ability to get better over time and thus, enhance the overall sales processes.
Will AI and Machine Learning Replace Sales Reps?
It is typical for industry thought leaders and analysts to shine a flashlight on a particular technology and wonder whether salespeople will be replaced by it, and for good cause.
This happened in the early 2000s when email marketing was being adopted by large companies. The predictions were that this technology would, among other things, replace sales reps.
Of course, that didn't happen.
Similarly, with AI and machine learning, the technology will never replace human sales reps.
Such messages sound alarming. According to research by Forrester, AI and machine learning tools only aid in the growth of salespeople.
Salespeople will not become obsolete, but their need to perform repetitive tasks will.
The way we buy, sell, and interact is changing constantly. Today's sales technology equipped with artificial intelligence only transforms the process to make it hassle-free and seamless.
The ability to automate routine tasks, and improve the sales process to give sales professionals more freedom and time to perform selling activities is exactly why AI in sales will flourish.
The Future of AI in Sales
Although sales are traditionally a people-to-people business, advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are dismantling how expert sellers think to establish a fine balance between humans and machines.
Automation is already making tremendous waves in the field of sales and its influence will only continue to grow.
The Power of AI in Sales
In addition, artificial intelligence accelerates sales processes and helps sales professionals focus on outcome-based optimization with data.
An AI-powered tool can automate daunting processes such as manual data entry, administrative tasks, lead generation, profiling, and scoring, and optimize the sales pipeline to generate more leads and bring in more revenue.
Here are eight ways AI will transform sales in the future -
- Tapping the right customers with enhanced prospecting and lead qualification.
- Boosting the value of sales enablement content with improved content and performance management.
- Supercharging sales teams with streamlined onboarding, training, and coaching.
- Automating routine tasks to focus more on selling activities.
- Increased sales productivity via data insights and automation.
- Better sales forecasting.
- Bring various departments together and not work in silos.
- Data-informed sales coaching and training to facilitate world-class sales leaders.
While a superhuman sales team cannot be completely replaced by a machine, it can be made stronger and more capable with the help of technology.
AI has a ton of promise and the opportunities for growth seem boundless.
Artificial intelligence is being heavily adopted by forward-thinking companies because it offers great convenience to both buyers and sellers.
With its potential to streamline workflows, personalize solutions, and predict the best course of action for closing deals, AI in sales is indeed a powerful tool for increasing sales revenue and setting the stage for long-term success.
Sales leaders need to decide right now where they plan to be on the adoption curve of AI.
First adapters and close followers will more likely experience benefits while lagging companies stand to benefit from the lessons learned from not switching to AI sooner.
If you are looking to explore the possibilities of artificial intelligence and machine learning to boost your sales revenue engine, book a demo with us now.
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