AI and THRIVE: How AI Can Empower & Not Hurt Our Sales Teams
By: Jennifer Nietz
“AI or die” – heard this phrase lately?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is taking over the lives we lead every day. From Googling a place to eat to letting your car park itself, AI is touching and transforming nearly every aspect of our lives.
Recently, the topic of AI has started to infiltrate sales and sales leadership innovation. It appears to be coming fast – so fast in fact, that if you don’t get up to speed, you will quickly be left behind.
AI is one of those trends that appears to be here to stay, and it’s time to get educated.
I recently attended my fifth AA-ISP Leadership Summit, and one of the themes was AI. This was startling to me, as prior to this event, I felt like I was really behind the curve on understanding how AI was going to affect sales.
However, it was made very evident throughout the summit that AI is still very much a new trend in sales. In fact, we learned that only 13% of sales organizations are adopting some type of AI to assist in their sales process at this time.
Phew! We didn’t miss anything.
So, here’s the deal. AI is not some robust technology that is going to replace our sales teams. AI is not going to replace our entire sales process.
Bottom line, AI is the new buzzworthy way to say, “Put your knowledge and put your data to work for you and your team, because you can.”
After sitting through several sessions at the summit, my mindset on AI greatly changed. So much so, that I would like to coin a new phrase – not AI or die….
AI and THRIVE!
In a recent article about AI from the global marketing strategy consultancy Clear, they state that “By some estimates AI could increase corporate productivity by 38% across 16 industries by the year 2035.”
Think of it this way. AI is a step beyond automation. Right now, we can automate how brands deliver messages, but AI will be able to automate what brands say and do so through a branded experience for the consumer.
For sales, there are several areas in which I believe we are going to start to see AI:
1) The Lead Process
AI is going to help our sales teams really prioritize our leads.
There have been tools around for years that help organize leads and help prioritize based on CRM fields. However, AI is going to take this one step further. AI will start to be used to gain valuable intel on accounts and prospects prior to a rep even logging into their CRM to start their day. AI will be able to prioritize leads based on the behaviors of a lead outside of just engaging with an email.
2) Sales Admin or Sales Enablement
Did you know that 60% of our front-line sales reps’ days are spent on non-selling activity?
Why? Because we are requiring, as an industry, an awful lot from them from a data entry perspective.
Think of your CRM; think of how many fields you have your reps fill in from web research. It’s a lot! AI can automate that, thus reducing the amount of time our sellers are doing data entry and more time on building relationships.
3) Sales Training
Training and development is one of the top three challenges we face as an industry. The stat here is that 50% of our leaders don’t have the time to spend on training their sales teams.
Over the past five years, sales organizations are doing better at moving training and development into a video format and off paper. This is a huge step to put training in the hands of a technology-dependent frontline sales team, but AI is doing one step better.
With AI, we are seeing organizations merge AI and virtual reality to create real sales scenarios for their teams to practice with. No textbook, no video, but a real scenario.
4) Sales Engagement
AI is being used to help enhance the buyers’ sales experience.
And there are two alarming stats in this area and reasons why this area is critical: 65% of B2B buyers are likely to switch brands if they perceive they’ve been treated generically, and furthermore, 53% of customer loyalty is measured by the sales experience.
We need to use AI to not just enable our reps to work smarter but also enhance our buyers’ experience by providing our reps with customized content geared to their buyer at their fingertips.
Generic mass messages are no longer good enough; buyers want you to connect with them as a human.
So, I will say it again: AI and THRIVE.
If you don’t incorporate AI, will your sales organization DIE? Certainly not, but I am confident that investigating how AI can help in one of the above four areas will certainly position your sales organization to THRIVE.
For questions and conversation, click here to connect with Jennifer Nietz, Vice President, on LinkedIn!