You hear it every day: “Artificial intelligence is going to transform your sales organization.” And, deep in your gut, you know it’s probably true – technology has a habit of marching on and leaving traditionally-minded folks in the dust. Believe me, as a sales leader, you cannot afford to be left in the technological dust.
Now don’t get me wrong: the basics are still as important as ever, but, as always, victory will belong to the fleet and the flexible. And artificial intelligence – AI – is the emerging tech that can make you (and is already making your competitors) fleeter and more flexible. So let’s go beyond your gut and look, with a practical eye, at some ways you can leverage AI today to improve your sales organization.
Engage every single lead in a human conversation.
Contacting and engaging sales leads takes time, effort, and close monitoring – and that’s impossible for the typical sales team when there are hundreds or thousands of leads to work. So good opportunities get dropped. But one company now offers an AI-based sales assistant that engages potential customers in natural, two-way human conversations, and tirelessly reaches out to every single lead – as many times and over as long a timespan as is required. She is always persistent, always polite, and empowers your salespeople to focus on selling and closing deals instead of chasing down leads.
Analyze the past to predict the future.
In the back of their heads, most sales professionals have some vague idea of who is likely to buy their product. They work in a certain industry. They have a certain title. Their company has a certain number of employees, etc. It’s based in part on genuine experience, and part on plain old guesswork. But new AI tools are emerging that can analyze your existing customers’ profiles and derive a highly... well, intelligent set of target customers for you to pursue. If you can only follow up on a finite number of leads, this can help you decide which.
Derive order out of chaos.
Knowing who to contact is all well and good, but, if you don’t know how to reach them, then it’s not very helpful. But promising AI-based services can rummage with superhuman abandon through the wastelands of social media, official Websites, search engines, and all sorts of other exposed and even hidden sources, and then analyze the patterns they see to provide consolidated – and often amazingly accurate – sets of contact information. They say privacy is dead (and it may well be) but, if your sales organization can help people get what they need, you might as well take advantage of the fact.
Make every salesperson a Hemingway.
Writing the ideal email with which to engage a sales prospect has traditionally been a tiny bit of science and a whole lot of art. The problem is twofold:
- Not everyone is a very good writer
- One identical message can’t be ideal for engaging every one of your human – i.e. very different – leads.
That is why AI-based tools are appearing that can analyze a person’s online information, build a personality profile of them, and then recommend wording and tone that science suggests will increase the likelihood of them reading and engaging with you. (But it doesn’t write novels yet, so Hemingway’s writing legacy is safe for now.)
Take the grunt work out of scheduling.
A lot of communication with a hot prospect is generally a good thing – it suggests the prospect is interested and engaged. But, if the bulk of that exchange is just to get a call scheduled, that’s a waste of time – both yours and the potential buyer’s. We all know the days of secretaries are gone, but, fortunately, AI-based schedulers have popped up that can help get that important meetup on the calendar without the pain of, “How about Tuesday at 4?” “No, sorry – how about Wednesday at 1?” ad nauseam. They’re not brilliant – heck, they’re not even very exciting – but they are extremely handy.
Artificial intelligence is in that funny stage where everyone sort of knows they’d better get on top of it, but most people don’t really know where to start. The good news is, everything described above exists today, so go ahead and pick the one that seems particularly applicable to your sales organization and start there. You can always add more as the need and your confidence build. But the one thing you can’t afford to do is wait and see – that wouldn’t be intelligent at all.