Artificial intelligence is nothing new to the business world. Forward-thinking organizations have been harnessing the power of robotics and automation for decades to streamline how they do business. And these technologies are only becoming more prevalent. In fact, according to research by MIT Sloan Management, 84% of businesses surveyed believe AI will enable them to gain and maintain competitive advantage. 75% say AI will enable them to move into new ventures.
Understanding the value that artificial intelligence can have on a business makes it easier to recognize the important role it can and should play in the sales department. In fact, when used correctly, AI technology can help sales teams gather and analyze massive amounts of data, extracting the information that’s of value so that it can be turned into actionable steps. Furthermore, predictive intelligence can facilitate better decision-making.
But that’s really a broad description of how AI can be utilized from a sales perspective. Let’s take a look at a few specific ways you can start applying this technology to your sales process.
Turn abstract data into actionable business insights.
Artificial intelligence uses machine learning, which is basically a fancy term for a computer’s ability to recognize patterns in data and take action based on those patterns. Let’s say you have sales data on thousands of customers, including all the different products they’ve purchased from you. A machine learning program can sift through that data and identify positive patterns, such as the fact that when product B was bought, 70% of those customers also bought product C.
Now you can go back and target the remaining 30% of customers who bought product B and suggest they also buy product C.
Adding predictive analytics into the mix, AI can also identify other relationships amongst the data you’ve collected and then use that information to predict certain additional product combinations that might be appealing to customers. The right program can do this in real time, making suggestions to customers as they’re placing their online orders.
Create more personalized and therefore more meaningful offers.
It’s no secret that sales increase when relevant offers are presented to the right customers at the right time and under the right circumstances. But there’s only so much the human mind can predict on its own. Artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, on the other hand, can quickly hone in on how and when to send an offer based on its analysis of the customer’s behavior, habits and preferences.
With the right tools and technology, the sales department can effectively identify correlations between sales transactions from an ERP system and sales activities from a CRM system. This information can then be used to predict the relationships between past data and predictive outcomes, improving on inventory management and facilitating cross-selling strategies to drive more revenue.
Rather than spending hours manually analyzing data, artificial intelligence can do the legwork for your sales team, interpreting and scoring that data so it can be applied most appropriately. With predictive analytics, hunches and gut feelings can be turned into statistical probabilities so your sales team will be able to focus their efforts on leads that are most likely to convert and avoid wasting valuable time on those that probably won’t.
AI technology can also save time on administrative tasks, handling menial functions like data entry. From there, predictive intelligence can determine which ad campaigns are more likely to generate the most clicks and identify trends and pain points in prospects. In fact, with the right balance of human and machine, your sales reps will already know a great deal about a customer before they even begin the nurturing process.
Develop more accurate sales forecasts.
Salespeople have long used forecasting as a tool for estimating future sales and determining how the company should manage its resources. Not only can artificial intelligence help gather, analyze and turn past data into insights, but it’s actually designed to autonomously learn and continuously improve on those forecasts. With more accurate pictures of their sales forecasts, sales teams can better predict inventory needs, figure out which products to continue or discontinue, narrow down lead time and learn how the season impacts sales.
Using AI to assist with sales forecasting can facilitate greater transparency and better accuracy in your company’s financials. Predictive analytics can even help decision makers recognize when and how to change business objectives.
The above suggestions are just a few of the many ways sales teams can harness the power of artificial intelligence to improve and streamline operations, boost competitive advantage and drive revenue. In fact, when leveraged properly, the right combination of technology and human insight can skyrocket the success of your sales team and your company as a whole.