Everything a Sales Leader Needs to Know About AI
AI gives sales teams an edge by identifying patterns in their sales data that are invisible to the human eye.
By measuring what matters and not simply what is visible, applying AI to your CRM helps sales teams achieve their full potential by focusing on actions that drive revenue. It gives sales leaders the visibility and control they need to measure the real added value of their teams. AI takes into account human and behavioral elements to detect problems and gives valuable recommendations.
What is AI?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to the ability of machines to think like humans. It all comes down to reasoning, planning, learning and understanding the language that simulates the human behavior. Everyone has a smart device that uses AI nowadays such as Apple’s personal assistant Siri, Facebook’s image recognition and Amazon’s product recommendations.
AI has made huge advances over the last year. This is due to a number of reasons: an improvement in computer processing power, a decrease in data processing costs, the growing digitalization of customer interactions and changes in consumers expectations. Currently, firms adopting AI at scale or in a core part of their business are able to see the technology’s potential, and those implementing proactive AI strategies are anticipating even greater benefits. However, like many other technologies, AI is a tool that can deliver significant competitive advantages, but only for firms that are fully committed to it.
AI is mainly designed to make our jobs simpler and more productive by relying on a technology called machine learning, which works with structured data to detect patterns that provide insight. You can easily identify which leads, prospects and opportunities you need to invest time in.
Machine learning lets you see which of the different components of your sales and marketing activities are working. It can be used to train computers to understand and analyze human language, including text and voice (Natural Language Processing or NLP), to identify and analyze images (image processing and computer vision), or for time series analysis, among other things. Deep learning algorithms, a subset of machine learning, uses several layers of neural networks (processes that mimic the human brain).
Why do I need AI for my sales team?
Without a doubt, buyers are smarter and more demanding than ever before. They are selective with the products they want, because they are used to a high level of services. That’s why businesses need to clearly identify their needs and desires.
AI gives sales teams an edge by identifying patterns in their sales data that are normally invisible to the human eye, revealing the skills and attributes of each individual. By measuring what matters and not by just what is visible, applying AI to your CRM helps sales teams achieve their full potential by focusing on actions that drive revenue. It gives sales leaders the visibility and control they need to measure the real added value of their teams. AI takes into account human and behavioral elements to detect problems and gives valuable recommendations.
AI will transform the way you measure sales performance. Your client expects you to use the data you’ve gotten from them to provide accurate engagement. A data driven approach to your sales team will allow you to get relevant insights from data. Detecting problems, predicting outcomes and recommending the shortest path to success will enable your sales team to achieve their full potential by focusing on the actions that produce real results. If you don’t have your own data scientists, that’s fine, you can still apply AI to your CRM. If you do have data scientists in your team, AI technology will help them be even more productive.
Furthermore, AI will have an impact on the future of work. One of our latest studies show that the vast majority of sales professionals already believe AI will help them out with their jobs, making some of their tasks much easier.
How can my sales team benefit from AI?
Sales teams can solve a wide range of issues with AI:
- Sales reps aren’t reaching their goals: Get the data and recommendations you need to improve your sales team’s performance.
- A lack visibility on team performance: AI helps you measure the true drivers of sales and pinpoint the components of your sales process that contribute to winning deals, or not.
- Unreliable sales forecasts: AI greatly improves sales forecasts by taking into account attributes that no sales operations or finance team could possibly incorporate in a traditional forecast. These include factors such as the quality of an opportunity, the effectiveness of the opportunity owner and the impact of external factors such as seasonality or local competition.
- Low team morale: AI can help you clearly identify which factors are driving team mood such as the compensation structure, the quality of the sales training, or the effectiveness of marketing programs.
- Identifying high performers: with AI, sales executives can accurately measure the effectiveness of a sales professional by factoring in the actual contribution made to a given deal, irrespective of the quality of a lead or territory.
- Low profit margins: AI can help sales teams pinpoint the exact discount policies and know when to discount, and when not to.
- Determining the optimal marketing budget and sales development headcount: AI can help executives design the ideal sales and marketing mix by measuring the true dollar contribution of a marketing or sales development team.
Do I have the right team, resources and data?
Applying AI to your sales data can be difficult as sales teams typically don’t have the internal knowledge, expertise or resources to analyse their CRM data.
In addition, CRM data can often be inconsistent, out of date, incomplete or oblivious to the human side of the story. Traditional business intelligence solutions don’t take into account attributes such as a sales person’s level of experience or their work ethic. AI-first apps like Cien plug and play with your CRM data and don’t require a specialized team of data scientists, developers, business analysts and project managers.
What does it take to kick off an AI project?
Until recently, to start an AI project for your sales team you would need to first, state the business problem, then figure out the data that’s available to solve the problem, then, assign significant resources and infrastructure to tackle the problem.
New AI apps such as Cien can do all the hard work for you. The app syncs with your data, understands your sales methodology and definitions to reverse engineer your success. It then gives you step by step guidance on the activities and decisions you need to make to get the most out of your sales team. Because Cien is designed for B2B sales teams, our approach to data modeling means that a sales team can use the app immediately. It automatically detects problems in your sales processes and only surfaces the most critical issues that need your attention. No data learning, no data training, no data extracting, loading or transforming. Cien delivers value immediately.
For more information on how AI can help your sales team, download Cien’s Guide to Solving Sales Performance Traps.