May 23, 2017

3 Ways Sales Is Changing With Artificial Intelligence


What's the impact of AI on sales? It's leveling the playing field as it helps salespeople leverage large amount of data to use prescriptive sales as a tool.

Technology is the great equalizer. In every industry and in nearly every department, technology is and should be central to performance and achievement capacity. Of course, the frontiers of technology constantly change. The assembly line modernized the means of production in the early 1900s, the telephone revolutionized communication, computers changed nearly everything in the 1980s, and today the frontier of technology is big data and artificial intelligence (A.I.).

Much has been made of those two trends in the last year. Every company under the sun has made bold claims about how much data they can capture and utilize. Then there were the data purists who said data had to be cleared of noise and be converted into smart data. The rules of good data have even been turned into an alliteration: Volume, Velocity, Variety, Veracity, and Value. On top of data came A.I., the much heralded “next wave” of technological progress.

A.I. captures a unique place in the public consciousness because we have been told both to fear it and to hope for it to save us from the tedium of work. But for all of the talk about what A.I. can do, very little has been made of what it is doing right now. There are many hundreds of products out there that purport to leverage A.I. for various tasks, but few of them live up to the future world that we read about in the news.

But there is one specific department where A.I. is operating to its futuristic potential by accomplishing one simple goal: leveling the playing field. That department is sales and the products that are available leverage A.I. to become prescriptive sales tools.

Impact of AI on Sales

These are three ways that Prescriptive Sales is changing the industry:

Two is Better Than One

Prescriptive Sales tools function like a regular customer relationship management (CRM) platform except that it is tracking and analyzing millions of events and identifying areas for improvement. Uzi Shmilovici, a thought leader in Prescriptive Sales technology and the CEO of Base CRM, says this technology gives sales professionals data-driven feedback for constant improvement.

“Artificial intelligence programs can scan through millions of events to find patterns and correlations that we just would not notice on a day to day basis,” explains Shmilovici. “So it might notice a correlation between sending a specific pitch deck to prospective clients before calling them results in better conversions. Or it might notice that sending a weekly follow up email can yield results up to 8 weeks after initial contact. These are small practices that a sales professional might miss but that can increase performance over time.”

The effect is to give sales professionals a second brain, one that crunches numbers and identifies patterns without needing any assistance. This has the potential to make every salesperson in the office a top performer, not just those with the best instincts. In that way, A.I. is leveling the playing field.

The Art of Scaling

Growing a company is a chess match. There are a million strategies at play, but at the end of the day, cash is king, and you do not want to find yourself without it. But how do you grow your sales without hiring sales personnel? One way is to sell more with the team you have, and that is the future of Prescriptive Sales.

There is a litany of statistics available about how badly the average sales office performs. By any metric, there is room for growth. One study found that 63% of sales professionals fail to meet their personal quotas. So when we talk about there being room for growth without hiring new personnel, that is the space we are talking about.

Prescriptive Sales is designed to make it easier for salespeople to exceed their quotas. When a whole sales office uses the platform, the A.I. analyzes performance across individual experiences, meaning the program takes notes on how the top performing individuals work and shares it with the rest of the team. That cross-pollination of best practices makes up for numerous shortcomings in talent.

Don Schuerman, CTO of Pegasystems writes, “Using AI to correlate data and uncover trends is great, but data is made valuable only when you can take action on it.”

Descriptive vs. Prescriptive

It is hard to overemphasize the importance of this leap forward. Today’s CRM platforms are broadly flat, meaning they describe what is and what is likely to be, but not what can be. In that way, today’s CRM platforms are Descriptive rather than Prescriptive.

Transitioning to Prescriptive Sales technology opens up new worlds of business opportunities. Suddenly executives are not handcuffed to best, middle, and worst case projections for annual revenue; instead they can paint a path toward concrete results and understand what it will take to achieve them.

That shift in thinking will have impacts on management and business strategy beyond what we can speculate about here. Of course, the best executives have always looked at what can be and worked toward that end, but now they have incredibly powerful tools at their disposal to get there.

“The impact of A.I. on sales today is significant enough to qualify as a top-tier competitive advantage,” asserts Shmilovici. “Every CRM company is actively working to release their own Prescriptive Sales platform for that reason. This is the wave of the future.” By combining Prescriptive Sales technology with a talented sales force, companies will be able to achieve growth at a much quicker pace. This technology could potentially become the future of sales and marketing.

AI Photo via Shutterstock

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Jeff Charles


Jeff Charles Jeff Charles is the founder of Artisan Owl Media, an Austin-based content marketing agency that specializes in helping professional service firms increase their influence and earn more clients.

One Reaction

  1. Aira Bongco

    It definitely helps when it comes to tracking and automation. I think that AI can also be used in other aspects of the sales process.

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