What’s the difference between an average sales rep and a sales superstar? In the near future, it’s going to be how well they use AI-enhanced tools.
There has a been a lot of hype around Artificial Intelligence (AI) recently. And that hype is coming true. The “AI revolution” is beginning to impact all areas of life, and sales is no exception.
Right now, there is a bevy of mixed feelings towards the adoption and growth of AI. Some people foresee a future where most jobs will be taken over by smart AI enabled technology. Among these is Tesla founder Elon Musk, who hails the idea as an advancement. Others, though, view it with anxiety. Forbes contributor Larry Alton described this scenario in a recent post:
“The vast majority of us will be out of a job in our current capacities. … [N]ew types of jobs will start appearing to replace those that were lost—at least to some degree… Economic changes will be necessary. The future workforce will be lopsided unless we take proactive measures to encourage more diversity and foster a smoother socioeconomic transition.”
Not surprisingly, many salespeople are wondering if their jobs will be among the first to be replaced by AI. Despite all the dire scenarios that have been painted by many leading thinkers, I believe AI is not going replace sales teams rather it is going to be a major enhancer of sales performance. Specifically, it will enable average sales reps to become sales superstars by being more efficient, more focused and more effective at selling.
What Is a Sales Superstar?
It’s easy to spot a sales superstar: they sell more and consistently get higher revenues than other reps. If we look closer, though, we can see why. They know which accounts to prioritize. They know when to let go of an unproductive lead. They know who to contact, how to reach them, and what message to deliver. They know how to tailor pitches for individual clients and specific products. They build strong relationships and spend more time closing deals than qualifying leads. They seem to go into every meeting and every contact fully prepared and poised. No question catches them off guard. They have an action plan, with various contingencies for various circumstances.
According to the popular 20/60/20 rule, only 20% of salespeople are currently superstars, but 60% have the potential to become one. AI can make can make that dream come true for sales leaders who strategically leverage Ai in their selling process.
AI Is the New All-Star Empowering Tool
Sales is a mix of science and art, though mostly it has been an art for most sales people. AI can now deliver the powerful science element of sales in an easy-to-use way for all your sales people. It does this by providing detailed tailored guidance to each sales person for each step of every sales opportunity. At a high level AI driven sales guidance has the following elements:
- Proactively Identifies and Prioritizes New Opportunities: AI can continuously scour huge amounts of data in your CRM system, sales history, industry articles, press releases etc. to identify hard-to-find buying signals. Not only can it proactively identify new opportunities but it also prioritizes the opportunities that need attention now.
- Shows the Most Effective Path to Closure: Once an opportunity has been identified Intelligent AI algorithms specify the optimal path to closure, including who are the people at the account that should be contacted, which products/services are most likely to be bought, and most importantly what should be the series of steps taken to accelerate the sales cycle and hit that elusive close. Moreover, the path is continuously modified as each contact is done and additional information is collected about the customer response.
- Provides Detailed Guidance for Each Contact: Once the optimal path to closure has been identified, AI delivers detailed guidance for each contact with the prospective buyer. The guidance includes when to contact, how to contact, what message to deliver, content to deliver etc. The guidance is based on actions that have worked well with this type of customer in the past.
- Optimizes the Sales Conversation: AI provides information on how the conversation with the prospect can been made effective. AI based conversation analytics provide information such as the right talk-to-listen ratio, when and how often to discuss product features and price, what type of language to use to help reduce risk etc.
As you can clearly see, AI can take each sales person and release their full potential to be a superstar. Naturally, those who shy away from AI-driven guidance will not thrive. They will be replaced, not by AI, but by other salespeople who embrace the edge that AI gives them.
Now that we’ve shown you some of the possibilities, is your sales team ready to take on AI? In my next post, we’ll explore what the future holds for the AI-enabled sales workforce and how you can start now.
Authored by Dr. Anil Kaul, Founder & CEO, Absolutdata.