The rapid growth of digital technologies in the recent years has created a very distinct type of a customer-a customer that allots majority of his/her time on the internet be it via social media networks or mobile. We, our self can identify with them the way we spend most of our time online- and this is majorly affecting the way we communicate with customers.
Statista says that as of 2018, “over 4 billion people are active internet users and 3.3 billion are social media users”. Plus, out of this digital population, 79% of consumers demand real-time conversations and engagements with brands rather than phone or e-mail. The new type of customer is empowered with all the information and connectivity at their disposal.
Companies need to meet this empowered customer’s demand as they are becoming more proactive with the digital engagement to streamline the customer decision journey and drive lifetime value. The prolonged period of consideration and evaluation on customer’s end must be shortened with the exceptional customer experience and digital interactions. This will lead to a strengthened relationship between the brand and the customer.
But how can you create exceptional customer experiences in a digital world in a short period of time? One way of doing that can be by augmenting the customer experience with Artificial intelligence. You need to ask yourself, what would your business look like if the prospect were to talk to your most effective representative?
Which brings us to the question how Artificial Intelligence helps business by applying AI in sales.
Sales AI can carry out the mundane tasks, saving sales professionals’ time
“A company may get millions of calls about a product and must handle each one well. It must also address the root causes of the calls” writes a Harvard Business review article. While handling each call is important, giving attention to each one is difficult. This is where AI comes in.
AI in customer service is already in application all around us today. Many organizations use AI customer service chatbots to answer customer queries, which means that sales and customer service professionals do not have to spend time on reiterating simple customer questions. Let the Artificial Intelligence take over in identifying high-priority emails, automate activity logging and create new contacts.
Sales personnel then, are free to assist customers who are facing larger issues and spend their time more productively. This will also cut customer service costs and save money in the long run.
“What we really want to do is to use humans to the best of their capabilities,” says Michael Natusch, Global Head of AI at Prudential. “AI is taking away the time humans previously spent on repetitive issues and allowing them to focus on where human intelligence can drive value – for both themselves and for customers.”
Furthermore, customers receive faster responses- making their more satisfied with the services. Issues are dealt with before the situation becomes more serious.
AI for Sales can help shorter sales cycle
With more information on prospective customers, sales personnel can expect the sales process to go a lot smoother going forward. Automated lead generation and qualifying will be possible, this will give the sales professionals a head-start. You will no longer need to start all the way from the beginning, artificial intelligence will give you the boost you need to push the prospect through the funnel faster.
Plus, like aforementioned- with less time spent on administrative tasks and many tasks automated, the sales professionals are free to focus more on closing. Leading them to put better efforts in nurturing a lead and influencing them to closing faster.
Sales Intelligence- AI for sniffing out good deals
Almost every sales professional has had the unfortunate experience of chasing down a deal only for it to be ending up a flop. All that time you invested- gone, without any returns.
Here, AI can not only sniff out what a good deal or account looks like, but it can also predict what solutions and discounts should be offered to the customer, based on the previous successes. Finding a good deal is, of course, something sales representatives learn over time, but until then why not use AI? Going forward you can focus on the right things and concentrate only on deals which you can get done.
“Potential leads are sourced from varied channels such as Google, LinkedIn and when you implement AI in the process, it will validate your data against different sources- assisting you to gather the most accurate data possible” writes Vainu.
They further that AI-assisted process increases sales which are resulted from the follow-up success and close ratios- this is simply because you work with accurate data from the very beginning. The fear of having your emails bounce back due to an invalid address or disconnected calls will be long gone with this aspect of AI which hooks you with the most accurate data for good deals.
AI can process more data and improve your sales pitch
Sales is intuitive. Sales reps usually have an idea, however vague, of which customers are most likely to purchase their products. That instinctual knowledge is mostly based on actual experience, but a part of it is also guess work.
“Your intuition may be good, but it won’t be 100% right all the time” writes Inc.com, which is correct.
However, with AI in sales- identifying potential leads and predicting solutions is easier and more accurate, as they take out the guesswork out of the equation. With AI you can build profiles of customers depending on their habits and behavior. These profiles will allow the system to predict what the people need and are more likely to buy.
You can leverage the power of predictive analytics to find information about potential customers even before you’ve see them. Well, more power to you – you can go to meetings with full-confidence and tailor their pitch using the insights gained from predictive analysis to convert the lead into a customer successfully.
Using past successes to make new ones
Selling into a company is difficult. You have to go back and forth a lot to refer to old deals- lost or won- and typically there are a lot of them.
AI sales tools help you by getting all the extensive information at your fingertips and analyze it. It can automatically synchronize all those emails and calendar notices, all the part of millions of data points, and NLP (Natural language processing) can review it to make potential recommendations.
All those data points can be used to find the right lead to call or even close the ongoing deal. Armed with information provided by AI tools you have a higher possibility of closing the deal.
AI for finding upselling and renewal opportunities
Businesses need to find a perfect balance in between going after new customers and taking care of the existing customers in order to grow steadily. How do you find this balance conveniently-? AI can help you predict when a certain customer is going to buy again and how they are using the product right now.
Uber, for e.g. is using heat maps and artificial intelligence to examine the patterns and assist their drivers to be in the right place at right time.
“We use ML (Machine learning- a subset of AI which enables machines to learn from new data fed into it) to enable an efficient ride-sharing marketplace, identify suspicious or fraudulent accounts, suggest optimal pickup and drop-off points, and even facilitate more delicious UberEATS delivery by recommending restaurants and predicting wait times so your food can get to you when you need it” says an Uber blog.
Just think of AI as an ever-ready assistant that will remind you when your clients are running low on their product or suggest cross-selling when it is appropriate.
Conclusion: Giving AI the benefit of the doubt
AI has a lot to offer. The challenge is that you need to trust it to happen. Like how many businesses in the beginning were apprehensive about moving data to the cloud, but now they do it without blinking an eye. The same is with Artificial Intelligence, many distrust its decision- even when there is evidence (data) backing it up – AI in sales can make your business a lot more productive and profitable but you have to trust it to make it happen.