Once nothing more than science fiction, artificial intelligence is fast becoming a regular part of our daily lives, from recommending restaurants to diagnosing disease. One area where artificial intelligence is already having a significant impact is in sales, and this trend is set to continue. With new advances being announced every day, at Reply we believe it’s vital that any salespeople who want to stay ahead of the curve know exactly what the future holds. Here are five of the main impacts we see ahead for artificial intelligence in sales.
The customer assistant
One of the biggest impacts we’re already seeing is not directly on the sales side, but for the customer. Companies like Google, Amazon, and Netflix spend a fortune providing customers with the information they want when they want it. Effectively, these have become shops that are unique to each customer. Buyers want personalized experiences, and companies like these work tirelessly to provide it.
Services already exist that will personalize your website based on the person visiting it. However, using artificial intelligence for sales will mean you could automatically optimize your site and highlight the products and services most relevant to your customer.
Another example of sales AI helping your customers (that’s already prevalent today) is the chatbot. While they’re still in their infancy and are significantly limited, it’s easy to see how customers will soon be able to go a lot further in the sales process before having to deal with an actual salesperson, with bots able to deal with increasingly complex questions and objections.
The sales assistant
If all this talk of AI has you worried whether there’ll even be work in sales, I have good news. AI’s main strength is augmenting salespeople, not replacing them (at least in the foreseeable future). Rather than doing their job for them, it’ll help good salespeople do their job better.
This includes help identifying potential leads and providing advanced results and feedback. AI already exists that goes beyond simple spell and grammar checks, and is able to analyze the tone and warmth of your messaging.
This becomes particularly interesting when you consider the implications of real-time feedback in other situations. For example, imagine being on a call with a prospect and an AI notifying you the prospect is responding positively to a certain approach, while a different is putting them off. Imagine it providing you with different potential responses to choose from, each with a given likelihood of success.
This kind of information will give salespeople much greater insights into their customers and help understand their thoughts and behaviors, opening up additional opportunities.
In our expert interview series, one key use of AI for sales identified was the increased ability to automate frequent and/or low-level tasks. Many of the basic tasks required to move a prospect along the sales funnel can already be automated, and the trends indicate this will only increase, with more tasks being better automated.
It turns out that only a small percentage of a salesperson’s day is spent on actual sales, with minor tasks sucking up the rest of the time. More than just saving time though, AI will in many cases be able to do a better and faster job than most people when it comes to tasks like lead generation, qualifying leads, responding to basic queries/objections, scheduling meetings, and reporting.
Sales enablement AI will take care of the boring, time-consuming jobs and let you get on with the actual selling.
Seeing into the future
We’d all like a crystal ball to tell us what the future holds, but while AI won’t be able to tell you next weeks lottery numbers it might be able to do a better job when it comes to sales. Like the heads-up display in a video game, AI will be able to provide all the information salespeople need, at exactly the right time, in order to make the sale.
There’s already examples of sales intelligence software that lets you know when specific prospects are more likely to buy, but these are set to become significantly more useful over the next few years.
By using artificial intelligence applied to sales data, salespeople will be able to get accurate predictions for the future, identifying more prospects across more diverse factors, allowing you to show up with the right solution at the right time.
The logical conclusion of AI in sales is a time where both sides of the sales conversation are handled by AIs, negotiating with each other to provide mutually beneficial deals.
While it might seem this means the end of salespeople, I believe it will signal a significant and permanent change to their role. Salespeople will, by necessity, become proficient coders. Just as today’s salesperson must have a comprehensive knowledge of their prospects, tomorrow’s will need deep insight into their prospect’s AI.
Like SEO experts who work to understand the algorithms behind the search engines and optimize their sites accordingly, sales AI experts will have to understand the algorithms behind the customer’s purchasing AI and optimize their own algorithms accordingly.
AI might be able to find and use the winner of an A/B test, but it still takes someone to come up with the options. Until the singularity comes along and renders humans unnecessary, the AIs will still require someone behind the scenes. Until human intuition can be coded, that’ll be someone with human DNA.
Whether you think the robots will take over the world or will solve all our problems, the fact is the AI revolution has already started. By understanding how you can use AI to boost your sales, you can benefit today and in the future.