I’ve been rather pessimistic in the past about automation and artificial intelligence (AI) creating a ‘sales career apocalypse,’ but I’ve recently been converted to believe in a far brighter future for those willing to combine old school value with new school technology.
Humans who embrace working with bots and leverage advanced technology as they engage prospects and customers will unlock the secret to driving sales pipeline and then progressing through to accelerated revenue. Here are three real world examples of how AI is transforming sales results.
1: Einstein from Salesforce for integrated opportunity coaching in complex sales opportunities.
Einstein is a virtual deal coach who provides predictive lead and deal scores along with opportunity insights, and with prompts for the best next steps and methods of outreach. Because Salesforce actually enables and integrates best practice sales process, Einstein has the ability to monitor key win factors including whether key information has been obtained, if the right people have been covered, whether the amount of time in a particular deal stage is damaging the probability of a win, if frequency of deal updates is on track, whether the number of calls made and received along with emails sent and received shows proof of high value engagement, etc.
All of this matters because the level of timely buyer/seller interaction absolutely determines the probability of winning a deal. Unlike a human sales manager, Einstein is always transparently monitoring and providing feedback on which deals need attention and where to prioritise precious sales time. This short video paints the picture.
2. Larry from Complexica for transactional sales.
Servicing a “long tail” of customers with a large SKU range represents a huge challenge for sales reps in terms of investing time in the right areas. Imagine you’re a sales rep working in the wine industry. You have hundreds of licensed premises in your territory and knowing who is best to call on and what to talk about, beyond your [yawn] specials this month, is a massively difficult thing to figure out. In Australia, the average restaurant or licensed premise has 30 different alcohol sales reps calling every month, let alone all the other suppliers competing for their ‘share of wallet’. All these sales people banging away at them… no wonder it is so difficult to get cut-through as a sales person!
Here is the outcome Larry delivers: you are the one and only sales person the owner looks forward to meeting every month because you provide amazing insights and advice on how he or she can grow their business and improve the profit! I kid you not. Larry can go go out and pull every menu on the internet from your clients competitors, analyse the meals on the menus and pricing (including food which you don’t sell) and identify the fact that restaurants within a 10 minute drive in the same category have food prices averaging 12% more than your client. Your insight (the reason to meet) is that your customer could increase prices by 8% tomorrow without becoming uncompetitive. Larry can further provide insight about what types of wine (products you do sell) and at what prices could be adjusted to also improve sales and profit.
Watch this video which is narrated by Matt Michalewicz, the founder and CEO… it will blow your mind.
Larry, the AI analyst, answers big questions for sellers and his recommendations drive previously unimaginable sales effectiveness for salespeople, like:
– In my territory of 300 customers, who should I prioritise for calls?
– When I meet with them, what insights do I have that help their business?
– In what order should plan my calls for maximum efficiency?
– Which products should I focus on to maximise our profitability?
The other exciting thing here is that recommendations and call notes from Larry’s promoting can be pushed “touchless” into your Salesforce CRM. If you operate in a sales environment characterised by frequent transactions with many customers across a large SKU range, and if you’ve wondered ‘how on earth do I generate real insights that actually resonate with the buyer?’… Larry could be your answer.
3. Watson from IBM for natural language dialogue to answer any question as the AI trusted advisor.
Natural language is incredibly difficult to deal with for computers but Watson goes beyond pure logic to cope easily with the nuances, vagaries and contradictions of the English language. In the video below you’ll see how Watson beats the best Jeopardy champions, and this occurred back in 2013!
Watson is being applied to medicine to accurately diagnose medical issues and is also powering many chatbots. Verbal interaction with truly intelligent computers is a very real part of modern life. Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Facebook’s M, Google’s Google Now, and Microsoft’s Cortana are all examples. If your role in sales is based on answering questions or providing information… you’re in trouble.
Imagine how the world will change when [AI] Singularity arrives some time between 2030 and 2050. Moore’s Law is relentless and whether humans will be needed in almost all workplace roles will be driven by societal and political considerations rather than by economics or questions over whether a machine can do the task better than a human.
Every professional must move the insight and value whilst embracing the very technologies they fear. Harness the power of the things that threaten you for new levels of capability, reach and efficiency.
Now.. stop pondering about the cyborgs, pick up the phone and call someone!
About the Author
Tony J Hughes is a best selling author and speaker in the field of sales leadership. He has three decades of business leadership experience and has also taught for the University of Sydney and the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. Tony’s LinkedIn blog is widely read and he can be found at RSVPselling.com and TonyHughes.com.au.
This article was adapted from Tony’s LinkedIn blog.