Artificial intelligence and automation can be powerful tools in sales, helping businesses find more qualified leads and close deals faster. However, AI can’t do it alone. It needs the skills and human connection that only qualified salespeople can offer to truly be effective.
In small but significant ways, AI has been a part of the sales process for a long time. CRM platforms, data mining tools, and marketing automation services have all played integral roles in sales for years, making the entire process more effective and efficient.
However, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to AI’s true potential in sales. Machine learning and natural language processing, for example, can offer sales teams an unprecedented amount of insight into their buyers and their sales processes. It seems that many sales leaders are already aware of this: according to a Salesforce report, leaders expect the adoption of AI to grow faster than any other tech in sales.
But as the adoption of AI continues to increase, many people might be wondering where that leaves the salespeople themselves. Is automation on its way to replacing salespeople? It’s an understandable worry. Luckily, the answer is no. In fact, since AI needs human skills and sales experience, most companies using or planning to use AI are also planning to increase staff.
Why AI Will Always Need Salespeople
AI has a unique place in the sales process: it analyzes large data sets quickly and refines them in real time. Through this analysis, it extracts insights that skilled sales teams can use immediately to make predictions, recommendations, and decisions all in support of prospecting and closing deals. The plain truth is that AI can bring a level of logic and standardization that humans can’t match to the sales process.
However, this intelligence has limited practical use without the right people to put it into action. Without people, there’s no way to build relationships and earn buyer trust that closes deals and keeps them coming back.
The purpose of AI and automation is to work in partnership with salespeople to help them get to know their buyers even better and streamline the sales process — not to take it over.
How a Marriage Between AI and Salespeople Can Lead to Greater Success
According to the Salesforce report, high-performing sales teams are nearly five times as likely to be using AI than their underperforming competitors. These teams have realized that the true power of AI sales technology comes from empowering salespeople to make the most of their skills and expertise. Here are three ways machine learning can help your sales team perform at the top of its game.
- Better Understanding of Buyer Profiles
Buyer profiles are already extremely useful tools for tailoring sales strategies to specific leads, but machine learning has the power to take these profiles to a whole new level. AI can tell you what certain buyers are interested in even before they begin shopping for anything. It can also provide better insights into buying timelines, broken down by buyer type.
- More Personal Sales Experience
According to another Salesforce report, 89% of business buyers consider the sales experience to be just as important as a company’s products or services. To deliver a premium experience in today’s market, you must customize it to the needs and preferences of each individual buyer. AI can help you make that happen, thanks to its ability to rapidly comb through data and conversations, surfacing key insights into prospects and customers. Your salespeople can then take these insights and incorporate them into their sales process to meet each buyer’s unique needs.
- More Cost-Effective Sales Process
Incorporating AI technology into sales not only increases leads and appointments by more than half, but also reduces costs by as much as 60% and call times by as much as 70%. None of this is accomplished by taking the salesperson out of the equation. Instead, AI can analyze your company’s data to find which parts of the sales process are working well, can be improved, or can be eliminated altogether. This will help your sales team make the most of its time and effort.
AI and automation shouldn’t be viewed as threats that will take jobs away. Instead, they should be seen as the exceptionally powerful sales support tools they are. By utilizing tech in sales to help salespeople perform at their best, you can have the best of both worlds and watch your sales continue to soar.
Written by Maura Kautsky.
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