Shortening the Sales Cycle with AI
Everything these days is done at a faster pace — except, it seems, the sales cycle. Applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) to other business areas has resulted in major improvements; what can it do for sales?
With all the data it generates, sales is a shoo-in for AI assistance. For many organizations, though, adopting an AI-enhanced sales approach seems more sci-fi than savvy solution. But other early adopters have found that implementing AI in three areas (process automation, sales guidance, conversation guidance) has a remarkable effect on their sales cycle.
The trick is to automate time-wasting tasks, freeing up more time for sales reps and teams to strategize and sell. Not long ago, a HubSpot post announced this startling fact: Salespeople Only Spent One-Third of Their Time Selling Last Year. In other words, sales team spend more time doing admin and searching for relevant content than they did selling.
The process automation aspect of AI handles many of these administrative time-drainers. The sales guidance arm provides data-based insight and recommends the best products and channels for each client, saving hours in research time. It also helps teams optimize how they budget their time. And conversation guidance gives reps personalized tips on how to close each sales call. Imagine how many hours a week these will free up for sales teams.
Still not convinced? Let’s compare the traditional sales routine to the shorter, faster AI way.
The Old Way vs. The AI Way
There are three places where sales reps can lose a lot of time: manual data entry, contact personalization, and closing the deal. This isn’t a reflection on anyone’s sales skills or intelligence; it’s a challenge to give every client the attention they need while keeping up with the breakneck pace of today’s marketplace. How can AI help in these specific areas?
Manual Data Entry vs Automatic Data Capture
When we talk about manual data entry, we’re talking about more than just updating the CRM after every contact. Think of all the admin that sales teams have to do:
- Scheduling meetings, calls, and demos
- Following up on contacts
- Drafting emails
- Finding and sending relevant content to clients
- Remembering or setting reminders for any of these tasks
Staying organized and on top of all these things requires either a personal assistant or a schedule the size of a dictionary. Fortunately, AI can act as a sales assistant, automatically capturing data from sales calls and updating the CRM system. It can also automatically schedule calls and meetings, prioritize leads, draft emails, find relevant content, and remind reps to follow up on contacts.
Guesswork vs. Game Plan
Let’s revisit the idea of a game plan. Reps can waste a lot of time simply by spending it on contacts who aren’t ready to close yet. AI-enhanced sales tools prioritize leads based on where contacts are in their sales journey, but they go a step further than just handing out lists of calls. AI can tell you what part of the day is the best time to reach out to each person as well as which channel will find them fastest.
Another major time drain is pitching the wrong product or service. AI can uncover which product is most likely to work for each account. This information is delivered to the rep’s inbox or dashboard, along with reasons why that recommendation is being made.
Taking a Chance vs. Systematic Guidance
Now we arrive at that point when everything either comes together or falls apart: the actual sales conversation. Using conversation analytics, AI has enabled reps to fine-tune their approach in the following ways:
- How much to talk, how much to listen (yes, talk-listen ratios are real)
- When to discuss product features and price
- Word choice
In this application, AI can examine the outcomes for every single rep in the company and find out what approaches are the most effective. This is great when it comes time for coaching and training sessions.
In summary, AI can shorten up the sales cycle in three crucial ways:
- Process automation ensures routine tasks are done efficiently, freeing up time for the sales rep to focus on selling.
- Sales guidance significantly reduces planning time and lets reps go into calls well prepared.
- Conversation guidance provides reps with ideas and feedback that help them tailor their pitches for maximum effect.
As we said before, some organizations are hanging back, unsure if AI is worth the hype and the expense. But others are adopting it, with great results. This is the time to explore what AI can do for your sales team!