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AI Is Driving Sales Management’s Interest Across the Board

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 In my April column, I provided four observations about the state of the artificial intelligence (AI) for sales marketplace (“4 Things to Know About the AI for Sales Marketplace”). The one item that generated the most inquiries was my notion that AI for sales is many things versus a single thing; readers wanted more details on what that meant. To kick off that discussion, let me share data from Sales Mastery’s 2019 AI for Sales” study.

For this research initiative, we gathered data from sales management and sales enablement professionals on what actions, if any, their companies were taking toward leveraging AI to optimize sales performance. More than 150 of the study participants shared that their companies had evaluated AI and had implemented or were implementing solutions. We then asked these companies to share the specific solutions sets they had selected. The chart above summarizes their responses.

Here we see that AI is touching several key aspects of sales and sales management. One of the challenges companies are encountering is getting in the game. Sales organizations are using AI-enabled sales intelligence to identify which prospects to target based on the likelihood of closing a deal before they start investing selling time. AI-enabled lead generation management capabilities then allow salespeople to execute their own account-based marketing campaigns, delivering messages targeted to individual buyer personas. AI can also coordinate setting up meetings with those prospects.

Once a lead progresses to a legitimate opportunity, AI is assisting salespeople in winning the game. It can intelligently suggest the specific content that reps should use with each class of stakeholders, at each stage of the sales process. It is helping fine-tune salespeople’s skills by employing virtual reality training to simulate sales situations. It objectively scores how effective salespeople are at conveying the value of their products and services and differentiating them from the competition’s. It also prescribes additional sales training assets that could make reps more effective. And AI is helping to configure the best solution to meet a customer’s need and provide insights to justify the pricing for that specific account.

A benefit to both salespeople and sales management is that AI can track and analyze deals as they progress through the sales process. AI assesses the cadence and quality of meetings, emails, and conversations between sellers and buyers to continually revalidate buyer interest. These insights can help salespeople decide whether to continue pursuing an opportunity. AI is also giving managers a new level of metrics and insights to help them more effectively coach their sales teams and manage the revenue flow.

As I stated in the April issue, today there is no one single AI for sales suite that can handle all of these chores. The key to leveraging AI in its current state is to find a sales problem worth solving and then collaborate with solution providers to transform that one aspect of sales and/or sales management by harnessing the power of AI. 

Jim Dickie is cofounder of CSO Insights and is currently a research fellow at Sales Mastery, a research firm that specializes in benchmarking case study examples of how companies are leveraging technology to transform sales. He can be reached at jim@salesmastery.com or on Twitter @jimdickie.

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