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How Artificial Intelligence Will Drive the Future of Sales

As consumers, we rely heavily on trust to influence our purchasing decisions. If our family and friends recommend a product or service, for instance, we hesitate less to buy. We also humanize brands and build relationships with them, hinging our trust on our ability to relate. That’s why the sales industry will always be driven by people — even in the age of artificial intelligence.

Although AI will play an ever-larger role in the sales industry, it will never actually replace sellers. It might take over many of their more menial tasks, but that’s a benefit. It gives sellers more time to devote to their core responsibilities — making person-to-person connections, engaging with prospects, and actually selling — rather than spending the majority of their time on easily automated administrative or nonsales tasks.

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Sellers can spend hours combing through potential leads. AI systems such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator, on the other hand, can do it in seconds. Programs such as these can rank and score leads based on engagement levels and purchase intent, which saves sellers hours of wasted time and energy pursuing people that actually have very little interest in buying.

AI also helps with prioritizing workloads and workflows. Let’s say an insurance provider asks its sellers to contact 100 people a day. AI can help those sellers prioritize their calls each day based on purchase intent, and it can even analyze call recordings to rank leads based on the interest they showed during conversations.

As AI continues to transform the sales landscape, how will it further enable sellers to go above and beyond? Here are the top three predictions from our executives:

  1. Natural language processing data will streamline sales funnels.

Many companies have already jumped on board the NLP train for its ability to record and analyze sales calls. NLP technology can extract keywords from calls and use them to create summaries and reports of call efficacy, for instance. But that’s not all it can do.

“The next step will be to do sentiment analysis to tell if a call or deal is going in the right direction overall,” says Sergey Medved, ClearSlide’s senior director of product management. “That’s a huge issue for sales leaders — to be able to forecast accurately and see where and how deals progress.”

If NLP technology provides sentiment analysis, sellers can more quickly determine when it’s time to throw in the towel or jump on a deal.

2. Facial recognition data will help sellers better understand prospects.The capability to analyze visual sentiment builds on the audio sentiment analysis we just mentioned. Just as NLP can help sellers understand buyer intent based on inflection and word choice, facial recognition data can help them understand a broad range of human expressions from video calls.

Sales trainer and motivational keynote speaker Victor Antonio paints a picture of what this could look like in practice: “Imagine a person’s face is shown on a screen. To the right of the face are little sentiment analysis meters: happy, sad, angry, sympathetic, empathetic. Little bars move back and forth like an equalizer, trying to determine the right mood the person is in.” The database required for this type of technology includes tens of thousands of tiny micro-gestures and minor expressions. In practice, this could help sellers gauge prospects’ reactions during video calls and better guide conversations.

3. Visual sentiment analysis will allow for specific feedback and evaluation.Along with giving sellers real-time sentiment analysis to help guide conversations, sentiment analysis software with facial recognition data could also give feedback on sales interactions. After a video call, for instance, the software could report back: “She didn’t like this phrase,” “stay away from that topic,” or “this analogy really resonated.”

In that sense, sellers can use AI to augment their ability to present more effectively. For sellers, it takes the guesswork out of reading the audience or gauging the vibe of a room. It’s like “watching film” in football: Sellers can focus on giving their all to the game at hand, but they know they can watch the film later to find areas where they can improve.

AI is never going to replace salespeople. In fact, its primary benefit is to augment sales jobs and help complement the work sellers already do. Sellers can rely on AI for scalability, speed, and computational power as well as powerful insights into their performance and efficacy.

Want to read more about the budding relationship between AI and sales? Download our whitepaper below.

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AI-Powered Selling: The Practical. The Predictive. The Potential.