Today’s post is by Ilan Kasan, co-founder and CEO of Exceed.ai, the leader in AI and automation for sales and marketing. Ilan is a thought leader and blogger and a strong proponent that the best sales teams will join forces with AI to exceed their goals.
To succeed in the 1950s, salespeople needed a handful of critical skills: connecting with potential customers, listening to their needs, and forming a strong relationship based on trust.
Then came the 1980s and 1990s, and things changed.
Suddenly, salespeople needed to learn how to crunch numbers and work with CRM systems. Administrative skills became a core part of their job. They became documenters and technologists in addition to relationship builders.
Now, we’re entering the AI era, and everyone is quaking in their boots that their job might be overtaken by an AI entity.
We’re not nervous, because we view this new era differently.
We welcome it. We even celebrate it.
By partnering with AI-powered tools, today’s salespeople can delegate their administrative work and focus more on what they have always liked doing and have been valued for: building relationships.
Building relationships, listening actively, and making people comfortable are best accomplished by humans, not technology. Here are the three critical skills salespeople can use to succeed in our new AI era.
Skill #1: Fearlessness
The only way to succeed in the AI era is to embrace it without fear.
According to research by InsideSales, over 20 percent of sales teams that don’t use AI tools say it’s because they don’t trust AI, and 5 percent are scared it will take their jobs. That means over a quarter of sales teams avoid AI out of fear. But, when you have the right solution, you’ll find it’s not as intimidating as you thought.
Exceed.ai’s virtual assistant enables sales teams to make the best use of their time by taking over repetitive administrative tasks, freeing sales reps to focus on the things only humans can do. Exceed.ai assistants can:
- schedule calls and book meetings,
- make initial contact with cold leads,
- qualify them,
- identify the best time to reconnect with potential customers, and
- unfailingly follow up on new leads through natural, two-way conversations over email and chat.
Sales teams that use Exceed.ai experience up to an 80 percent increase in new sales opportunities and a 67 percent drop in the cost of qualifying leads.
When you let go of your fear and really partner with your AI sales assistant, working alongside it effectively, you can prioritize your time more efficiently and convert more leads into sales opportunities.
Skill #2: Relationship building
The biggest benefit of sales in the AI era is that salespeople are now free to dedicate the bulk of their time doing the things AI can’t do, like banter, joke, find common ground, and build genuine relationships with potential customers.
Human nuance, demonstrating emotion, and connecting with people are what salespeople were born to do. But, in the past two decades – when nearly half of their time was required for emailing; communicating back and forth to establish, confirm, and reschedule meetings; following up; and documenting every interaction – their true sales skills set, including fostering relationships and closing deals, became stymied.
AI has created the opportunity for salespeople to excel at exactly what they were hired to do. AI tools can free salespeople to cultivate the skills buyers value. Research by Salesforce reveals that 75 percent of buyers expect companies to understand their needs, and 79 percent want to interact with a salesperson they trust. Today’s buyers want to trust their vendors and suppliers, and that can be done only if salespeople listen carefully to what buyers need and want.
Skill #3: Cross-collaboration
Entering the AI era doesn’t mean salespeople will suddenly become “lone wolves,” sitting together with their AI assistant, set apart from the rest of the marketing and sales teams. On the contrary, skills as a team player will be more important than ever, and more productive.
AI will make sales teams smaller – placing each representative in a holistic unit that unites sales, marketing, and customer service. Salespeople will have to grasp the big picture, considering all the interactions among the three departments. Only salespeople who recognize and prioritize cross-collaboration will succeed.
Salespeople also have to embrace greater transparency within the team and let go of their pride in doing everything themselves. It’s going to require a completely new perspective, where every sale is truly a joint effort. They’ll need to be willing to share information, leads, and insights openly and freely, learn how to intelligently delegate to their AI partner, and become willing to hand over leads for someone else to complete the sale.
Use AI So You Can Sell More
With the advent of AI, salespeople can fully embrace interpersonal skills, relationship building, fearlessness, and other uniquely human skills, and leave the administrative work to technology.
Salespeople must abandon their fear of AI and learn how to delegate to it, then polish their relationship building skills. Visit Exceed.ai to learn how.