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Marketing & Tech
Artificial Intelligence and the Future of B2B Sales
May 1, 2017 | Canadian Professional Sales Association lock

2016 saw the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in sales in ways that were predictable, but it also shook up the sales world in a number of new and exciting ventures. Based on recent trends, 80% of marketing leaders predict that AI will revolutionize the industry by 2020. Why then, are only 10% of them currently using it?

While the quick upswing might leave people wary about what this means for their livelihood, there’s really no reason to be concerned, as virtual assistants can be put to work both for the customer and for the sales team. Breathe a sigh of relief as we move forward in 2017 knowing that the robots are here to help, and can provide a huge boost to your sales enablement. Let’s just hope that’s not what they want us to think...

In terms of sales-- and more specifically B2B sales-- AI simplifies the process of generating leads. It employs data to seamlessly escalate interactions by sending more difficult cases to qualified agents and automates tasks that, in the past, would have pulled sales reps away from more productive work. This means more meaningful and high-quality interactions that result in better conversion rates and happier customers.

Another way AI is shaking things up is by giving sales reps the information they need to be able to better prepare for calls, and by prioritizing leads according to a detailed analysis of historical sales data. In 2016, Salesforce introduced Einstein, a “personal data scientist” that lets humans deal with reaching out to potential leads, while it sifts through the interactions and suggests steps that will lead to smarter sales decisions. It also logs data, which makes forecasting a science, rather than a guessing game.

Salesforce isn’t the only CRM using AI to make a push towards more intelligent agents. Companies like Microsoft and ServiceNow are recognizing the value that comes from providing sales reps with tools that do everything from automating emails to understanding report packages to prospecting. AI-CRM partnerships work well because they:

  • Encourage sales reps to connect with the most promising leads
  • Log data so that sales reps can focus on selling
  • Make sales cycles more efficient
  • Drive sales productivity

If it seems like a novel, or even unlikely concept to rely on a machine to improve human interactions, consider the ways in which AI can have an impact on real relationships. Good data enables sales managers to understand most of the situations their teams will encounter in the sales process, and better prepare their sales reps with the skills they need to be successful. Good training is critical if you’re building a team that wants real results, and AI takes the uncertainty out of the equation, giving salespeople everything they need to feel prepared to take on the challenge.

The speed by which AI is improving through machine learning is incredible, and while it might not be universal yet, it will soon be impossible to ignore the effect it has on business at every level. By homing in on the ways in which AI can enhance, rather than replace, the human interactions that drive sales from the ground up, there’s no stopping its trajectory.

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©2017 by The Canadian Professional Sales Association. For permissions, contact editor@cpsa.com.

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