Today's post is by Alex Terry, CEO of Conversica.
I recently read a report that said the inside sales market is growing at rate of over 42,000 new jobs per year in this country. That’s three times faster than outside sales and a real testament to the fact that this part of your sales organization deserves a lot of attention – if you are not already providing it.
There are any number of best practices that can increase the results from your inside sales team. Five that readily come to mind are
- motivation techniques
- establishing a strong culture
- outstanding training and development
- establishing specific goals and metrics
- optimizing productivity
At the same time, you need to make sure you have the right recruitment, retention, benefits, and salaries that allow you to find and keep the right people. Each of those areas requires time, money, energy, management, and focus you may or may not have. But you really don’t have a choice.
Or do you? What if you could hire your next inside salesperson and not bother with any of that?
Technology may once again have found the answer. Artificial intelligence, which has captured our imaginations for decades, is finally beginning to make headway into the workplace. According to Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce.com, we are in an AI “Spring” and will start to see more artificial intelligence applied across sales and marketing. Companies are already starting to use AI virtual sales “assistants” that can take the most onerous of inside sales jobs – slogging through a mountain of leads to find out which are hot and which are not. Once found, they can be passed over to a “real person” to do what they do best: sell and close. If you haven’t looked into this area yet, let me give you five reasons you should.
- Artificial intelligence can handle an unlimited number of leads.
Many sales executives run into the problem of how to efficiently increase lead engagement and conversion. Good marketing automation tools and techniques can generate mountains of leads, but who has the time to get through even a portion of them? Inevitably, your people end up wasting a great deal of their time trying. But AI software today can actually engage an unlimited number of leads in email conversations to find out who is ready to talk to a salesperson…and they can engage so convincingly that most prospects would swear they are interacting with a human.
- Artificial intelligence can create a more positive workplace.
Speaking of frustrating, the atmosphere in the office can make or break your department. If your salespeople are not happy or are feeling even slightly discouraged, their productivity will take a nosedive. If you can eliminate the grunt work so your salespeople don’t have to waste their limited time chasing cold leads, it can definitely lift their spirits – along with the bottom line.
- Artificial intelligence never asks for a raise, vacation, or time off.
Your virtual assistant is never going to ask for a raise. You’ll never have to worry about scheduling vacation time because “she” will never take one. No benefits, no time off, no sick leave, and a total workaholic putting in as many hours and as many days as you choose. No complaints over working the early or late shifts here. And HR will love you.
- Artificial intelligence never resigns, so you don’t have to deal with turnover or training.
This “employee” doesn’t require training. She’s a professional lead engagement machine that already knows how to do her job, having learned from millions of email conversations. She quickly learns the intricacies of your business and never departs for a sweeter offer or to go to the competition.
- Artificial intelligence could cost less than a quarter of the average salesperson and is probably the best hire you’ll ever make.
In a nutshell, humans cost more a lot more than software and aren’t nearly as scalable. Artificial intelligence software doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, in most cases the cost per “assistant” is a fraction of what you would pay a new human employee. And you’re not replacing people with technology; instead, you’re removing the boring and inefficient work and freeing up your human team to do their best work closing deals.
So, instead of considering that next human hire to build out your inside sales team, take a look at how artificial intelligence can scale your existing team. If AI can handle repetitive, boring tasks and free up the rest of us to ring the bell, then I’m all for it. It’s certainly worth exploring. You can bet your competition already is.