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3 Ways AI and Machine Learning Will Affect Sales (& How to Prepare)

3 Ways AI and Machine Learning Will Affect Sales
Sales Technology

Informed and actionable business decisions now happen easily, thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

B2B salespeople can, at a single click, determine the customer’s buying behavioral patterns and personalize content and ads to align with their browsing history, industry trends, and interest.

The stressful lead scoring and nurturing in the sales process is gradually becoming a soft work. AI and machine learning algorithms now provide steps for Sales and Marketing to qualify marketing qualified lead (MQL) into sales qualified lead (SQL) — which further strengthens the sales pipeline and brings about more gains.

In fact, PWC’s global artificial intelligence study reveals that artificial intelligence has a potential contribution of $15.7 trillion to the world by 2030.

Global Artificial Intelligence Study

PWC, 2020.

There’s little doubt that AI is on the rise. And it’s becoming the secret weapon for top sales organizations.

According to the Salesforce State of Sales Research study, 62% of the highest performing salespeople predict that guided selling adoption will accelerate.

This is due to its ability to rank potential opportunities by value and make suggestions for the next step of action.

Using an AI- and ML-based system makes it easy to nurture leads and keep deals moving forward. It ranks a likely-to-purchase customer and guides salespeople on what to do or say next to their leads. AI takes care of the analysis. The rep only needs to focus on taking action.

And it works.

A recent study by Harvard Business Review shows that sales teams that adopt AI and machine learning are seeing:

  • 50% increase in leads and appointments
  • 40–60% cost reductions
  • 60–70% call time reductions

Clearly, if you’re not using AI and ML with your sales team, you’re leaving a lot on the table.

Okay, that sets the stage.

Now let’s look at how AI and machine learning will affect sales in the future and why you should be prepared for it now.

Let’s get started.

AI and Machine Learning: What Do They Mean?

AI is the theory and development of computer systems that are able to perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision making, etc. A good example of such capabilities can be found on your smartphone.

Machine learning is the scientific study of algorithm and statistical models that computer systems use to perform specific tasks without using explicit instructions that rely on pattern or reference.

 

In essence, AI encompasses machine learning, and not vice versa.

These technologies relate to sales as it helps to boost leads and close deals through standardization, automation, and optimization of the sales process.

How AI and ML Will Affect Sales in the Future

Sales begins with the relationship between the customer and the business. Now that customers understand and use technology on a daily basis, every conscious business must strike a balance between human and machine to better prospect-lead and make sales. That balance can only be achieved with AI and machine learning.

According to Paul Daugherty, chief technology and innovation officer at Accenture,

“The playing field is poised to become a lot more competitive, and businesses that don’t deploy AI and data to help them innovate in everything they do will be at a disadvantage.”

To put your business on a greater edge in the selling space, here are three powerful ways that artificial intelligence and machine learning will affect the future of sales.

The Power of Standardization

AI and machine learning will affect sales in the future through standardization. Before you can properly leverage AI, though, you need a foundation of a standardized system that allows for full AI integration.

Say you have a set of top-performing sales agents. With AI, you can study their processes, responses, techniques, and gestures — then use these factors to create a knowledge base system that other sales agents use as a resource.

If there’s an absence of a standardized sales process, there would be a mismatch in the analysis.

When standardizing your sales process, make sure that you have the right level of structure and standard in terms of creativity and performance so your sales team won’t overdo a process.

This is because technology can restrain human flexibility if not planned right.

The Power of Automation

Answering similar questions and sending pitches can be very daunting for salespeople. Aside from that, it eats into your limited time and makes your job monotonous.

AI can help you perform manual, tedious, repetitive tasks, and create an allowance for you to attend to clients creatively and drive higher value.

The power of automation with AI will help you build better relationships and have significant discussions with clients.

Take, for instance, the research by Hubspot showing that salespeople spend almost a quarter of their day responding to emails. This time could be better spent talking to prospects.

With email automation, you can address the problem to better achieve time management.

In doing this, you should analyze the daily tasks that your salespeople perform and create automation for them. This could be something like the most common emails that are sent daily or the type of follow up messages to send at any point in time.

In the long term, you could have welcome emails to new leads, follow-up emails to unresponsive leads, demo emails to new sign-ups, reminder emails about meetings, and thank-you emails to new customers.

The Power of Optimization

Standardization and automation are the building blocks for optimization. They hasten the procedure for achieving tasks with less effort. However, they do not change or boost sales. Optimization does that.

When AI and machine learning are employed to optimize the right metrics and validate business ideas, you achieve successful business outcomes, like high ROI and customer satisfaction.

This also has an effect on reporting, since optimization makes it easier for platforms to deliver value to clients.

For instance, a lot of SaaS brands get consistent sales through content marketing. This is because they use and optimize it the right way.

The future is bright for salespeople who implement new AI and ML tools and processes to improve the productivity of their sales process.

Why You Should Get Ready for the Future of Sales

The customers you’re selling to are evolving, and so should you if you want to make sales. Technology now makes communication better — and it’s just beginning.

With AI and ML, interacting with your customers will be beyond your imagination. Here are some of the reasons you should get ready for the future of sales.

Predictive lead scoring

This process studies customer behavior on how they knew about your business, how they interacted with your website, and the information they consumed.

By doing so, it scores a lead by informing you of their likeliness to buy from you, so you waste no effort on customers that are not yet ready to make any purchase from you.

Customer lifetime value forecasting

AI and ML can let you know your customers’ worth. This is easily done by checking the number of previous purchases and visits to your website they’ve made. With this information, you can know your loyal customers so you don’t toy with them.

Predictive targeting

You can now send messages to the right customers, thanks to AI and ML. These machines study the characteristics of your ideal customer and anticipate both their interests and their buying decisions.

They identify customer behavior that signals a readiness to buy, then trigger the appropriate marketing campaign.

They can also help with other business and management decisions, such as forecasting, price optimization, prioritizing, and recommend solutions.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, artificial intelligence and machine learning will dominate the future of sales. Getting ready for it is your roadmap to a profitable business that will continue to scale.

This is because AI and ML lead to improved productivity, better decision making, and automated sales pipelines that will drive your business to success.

In this post, you’ve learnt that:

  • AI and machine learning will play a big role in the future of sales.
  • By implementing AI and ML in your sales process, you satisfy your customers better and make your tasks easier.
  • If you don’t get ready for AI and ML now, you’ll most likely end up leaving too much on the table.

If you’re ready to bring real intelligence into your business, this is the best time to start and focus on using AI and ML in your sales process.

Owen McGab Enaohwo is the CEO and Co-Founder of SweetProcess; an easy-to-use and intuitive business process management software founded in 2013 that makes it possible for company executives and their employees to collaborate together to quickly document standard operating procedures, processes, and policies.