By Lori Harmon
Author, Speaker, Vice President, Global Inside Sales
When we think of artificial intelligence (AI), our imagination wanders off to a science fiction-themed, futuristic world, where the workforce has become conquered by emotionless robots that do more work than the human employees. But, do not worry. AI is here to automate technology not overtake our jobs!
According to Alex Terry in CRM Magazine, “On average sales reps spend 80% of their time qualifying leads and only 20% closing. Qualifying leads requires advance research and many phone and email hours trying to hone in on a lead that can be turned into a sale.”
Products that use AI to prioritize leads; analyze existing customer profiles to develop a prioritized list of targets based on the profile of those that have made purchases in the past. This gives your sales team a prioritized list of contacts to pursue. AI can also highlight the best communication channels and products to offer to each target.
In fact, call and email intelligence, only serve to make parts of the sales process hyper efficient by supporting and training staff — not replacing them. For example, their calls can be recorded, automatically transcribed, and then understood through a machine, assisting managers to train their staff with a bigger impact. Additionally, these tools analyze demographics, time zones and response rates to determine the best time for a rep to reach out and actually connect with a prospect.
It’s because of these factors Inside Sales roles are becoming more prestigious and quickly gaining more respect.
“With so much new sales technology available, it’s possible to achieve metrics-centric selling to get better at the quantity and quality of selling activity for each sales role. This is about not spraying and praying but using killer analytics to help each individual sale succeed,” said Peter Kazanjy to Hubspot.
Not only can AI train new staff on your roster, but it can also read how veteran staff are producing quality numbers.
“Based on observing the actions of high-performing reps, AI will provide a blueprint to new reps, offering guidance in terms of how often to reach out to a prospect and what collateral to send them to be most effective in closing deals. This “autocoach” functionality will mitigate the time in which new reps operate at a loss because they are acting in a statistically similar way as high-performing reps,” said Doug Winter in a blog on Entrepreneur.
Another critical component of AI is the Natural Language Processor (NLP). “By analyzing language for its meaning, NLP systems have long filled useful roles, such as correcting grammar, converting speech to text and automatically translating between languages,” said John Rehling, an NLP expert at Meltwater Group in How Natural Language Processing Helps Uncover Social Media Sentiment.
With the NLP in place, it can help sales reps prepare for meetings by bringing context to the forefront. By analyzing data gathered from past meetings across the sales organizations, sales reps will know what pieces of content — and even what order of slides — will work best for a certain characteristic of buyers in the room during a presentation.
Another thing that AI can help to automate is the annoyance of mandatory, but boring, sales tasks.
“Our sales team of 60 schedules about 3,600 meetings per month. If each meeting takes 10 minutes of sending calendar invites back and forth and including new attendees, the result is 600 hours per month wasted scheduling meetings,” said Doug Winter, a guest writer to Entrepreneur.
AI will indeed change how the sales department goes about their daily tasks. However, this change is good. The Big Data collection trend has allowed for the birth of AI to digest this data and propel marketing and sales teams to invest their time and money into their strong areas smoothly and automatically.
In her current role as Vice President, Global Inside Sales, Blackberry, Lori is responsible for leading and coaching the sales team to help theircustomers realize the huge business benefit that mobility and mobility application usage can create. Previously, she was Vice President, Sales, at Contrast Security, where she helped CISOs, CSOs, application security experts and developers prevent breaches that cost their companies money and brand equity.