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With all the buzz around AI, it’s easy to lose sight of what it is, what it isn’t, and what it can do. We spoke to three sales industry leaders — all experts in AI and sales — about how they define AI and how it is being used in sales to boost productivity.
In its simplest form, AI is machine intelligence, programming that makes it possible for machines to learn from their past experiences, just like humans. This allows machines to perform human-like tasks by processing large amounts of data and finding patterns, then translating those patterns into actionable insight.
“When somebody says ‘artificial intelligence’ to me, it’s basically a machine that’s trying to act smarter than human beings,” explains Victor Antonio. “Then the question comes, in what application and in what sense?”
Gerhard Gschwandtner defines AI in sales as “a meta analytic tool that allows salespeople to gain greater insight into that ocean of data that they’re dealing with.” As he explains, that could take the form of an algorithm or a learning machine — some tool that helps sellers perform better, improve productivity, and gain time.
Nancy Nardin clarifies this further, explaining that AI can make it simpler for people to do the tasks that they’re doing today, or it can make it possible to do tasks that they themselves cannot do because it’s outside the realm of human capability.
AI is the general science of machine learning, but the opportunities for its application are endless, particularly when it comes to boosting productivity and giving sellers time back.
The Sales Time Drought
Sellers have precious little time to actually interact with prospects. Logging sales activity, for example, eats up a solid 27% of sellers’ time. AI can give sellers time back by automating low-value — but essential — tasks like calendaring, emailing, and researching prospects.
“Being able to get ready for the call or email, learning about costs, the cost factor, the prospect’s company, finding out about the intent before you chat to the potential customer is very time-consuming,” Sergey Medved, head of product at ClearSlide, points out. In addition to using AI to save sellers time, Sergey adds, it can guide sellers to better connect and engage with buyers.
It can also vastly improve prospecting, first by finding leads and then by guiding prioritization. That is, AI can find leads based on set criteria, then guide sellers to which prospects are most worth their time.
AI can help match prospect data profiles with a company’s most valuable customers, showing which are most likely to be a good fit. It can also analyze intent data activity across the web and look for signals that a company or a particular person is ready to buy. This helps sellers prioritize prospects in a way that would be impossible for a human to do.
AI can also assist with researching before the outreach call with bots that can help collect basic information on prospects, as well as what their specific pain points are, so the seller can follow up with the appropriate content and messaging to help provide value.
In the same vein, AI can help predict which prospects are more likely to close, based on conversation patterns. As an example, Victor describes a hypothetical insurance salesperson who has to call 100 people each day. He makes his calls and, at the end of the day, manages to sell 20 policies. There are still 80 unsold. The question becomes, how does he determine whom to call back the next day and in what order? Who is worth it?
The typical seller would probably go off gut instinct, choosing to start with the person with whom he or she had the best conversation. But those instincts aren’t always reliable. Who’s to say that the person on the other end of the line wasn’t simply being polite and had no intent to buy?
AI can help with situations like these by recording sales calls. By analyzing tone of voice and questions asked, it can determine whether the prospect is worth calling back or not. It can then select the ones more likely to close and prioritize the remaining calls.
At its core, sales success comes down to three key elements: people, process, and technology. With AI, the new challenge is integrating that technology into the sales process to give sellers and prospects a seamless experience.
AI can seem unfamiliar and intimidating, but, when used correctly, it can give your sellers back thousands of hours — which means more one-on-one time with prospects. And AI capabilities are built in to ClearSlide, so you don’t have to figure out the best way to use it. Download our whitepaper below to learn how AI is shaping the future of sales.