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If only I could clone myself — I’d get so much more done in a day!
Does this sentiment sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. Today, about two-thirds of sellers’ workdays are dedicated to data analysis, account management, and other administrative tasks. That leaves precious few hours for them to, well, sell — the skill they’re uniquely qualified to do. It’s for this very reason that Deloitte dubbed sales jobs “superjobs” in a 2019 article.
Sellers’ days look like plate-spinning circus acts. It makes sense, then, that salespeople want to pursue solutions that allow them to eliminate, automate, or augment their nonsales activities. That’s where artificial intelligence comes into play.
AI is not here to replace sellers. It’s here to complement them. Humans can rely on AI for scalability, speed, and computational power. Not only does it free up time that would otherwise be spent on admin tasks, but it can also help sellers identify potential prospects and predict which will close. However, to prepare your company for the future of AI, you must have the right mindset, skill set, and tool set.
Take these three steps to set the stage for the successful adoption of AI.
- Adopt a growth mindset.
Perhaps nothing will kill a business quicker than a fixed mindset. Having a growth mindset allows you and your team to examine new technologies through an objective lens. It gives you room to ask probing questions like, “How will these innovations help us accomplish our goals — or, at least, get us closer to achieving them?”
The best insurance against disruption is to be on the leading edge and embrace new, useful tools so you can dramatically lower costs and improve sellers’ productivity. To do so, try to view AI as a business capabilities solution, rather than a technology solution. This keeps your focus on the ultimate goal (saving resources and promoting efficiency), rather than solving one-off pain points.
- Audit current processes.
Ask yourself, “What’s the biggest friction point in our sales process?” “What’s slowing us down the most?” and “Where can AI help us smooth things out?” By auditing your current processes, you gain a greater perspective on the types of efficiencies AI can provide.
Make sure to be explicit about your goals as you move through this process. After all, AI is a meta-analysis tool that allows sellers to gain greater insight into the ocean of data they’re swimming in. The more clearly you define your goals, the better you’ll be able to match specific AI-powered solutions to solve them.
- Launch a pilot program.
Change is never easy, so unsurprisingly, some salespeople will meet AI-based automation with resistance. They imagine it will be too cumbersome or time-consuming to implement. To gain companywide buy-in, start with a pilot program, which is a great way to test things out and involve as many different groups as possible.
Once sellers see the productivity benefits that AI affords them, they’ll change their tune. Said another way, when they can double the amount of time they spend on sales, they’ll see the direct impact it has on their livelihood and the value they can create. But remember: A pilot program is only as good as the way you incorporate feedback from it. Make sure you have a set process for gathering and implementing feedback so you know what’s working and what’s not.
At the end of the day, the best way to prepare for AI in sales is just to start. Don’t overthink it. There’s nowhere to go but up in improving your salespeople’s capacity to focus on what they do best: sell. Even an iterative approach will have them feeling like they’ve finally been able to clone themselves.