Imagine a world where you can accelerate the sales pipeline, improve win rates and save time in the process. It sounds like a pipe dream. Artificial intelligence (AI) is making this a reality, upending the traditional sales process and transforming it for the better.

There’s a lot of fear out there around artificial intelligence – that it will replace the role of salespeople. But it’s misguided. AI shouldn’t be looked at as an army of robots about to steal our sales jobs – it should be viewed as a resource that’s going to give salespeople supercharged abilities. The AI that’s embedded across our platforms, Einstein, enables sales reps to perform at a faster, more efficient rate, while facilitating more relevant and personal conversations with customers – at scale.

Amid debating the merits and perils of applying AI in a sales environment, high-performing sales teams are already getting ahead, tapping into the undisputed benefits. In fact, they’re 3.4x more likely than underperforming teams to be using AI as we speak. Artificial intelligence such as Einstein is already revolutionising the industry, and those savvy sales teams are quietly building a competitive advantage.

Artificial intelligence in sales 101


So, how does Einstein work for a sales rep? In a very basic sense, it analyses the organisation’s customer data, delivering predictions and recommendations throughout the different stages of the sales funnel.

In the early stages, it examines the discovery journey for a particular prospect. Are they ready to buy? Einstein goes to work to determine which prospects and leads are further along the journey and prioritise them. It then goes one step further to predict how to best close the deal or push that customer successfully through the pipeline, based on analysis of previously successful opportunities.

Why robots won’t replace salespeople


There’s one key piece of currency that a salesperson operates on – trust – and it’s the reason why we won’t have a sales team of robots in the near future. AI, including Einstein, can’t re-create human empathy; it can’t develop strong customer relationships – only salespeople can.

What Einstein can do is help sales reps make their customer relationships even stronger. As weird as it sounds, AI can help humanise the interactions salespeople are having with their prospects. How? Einstein excels at processing and analysing all of the data the customer gives us. These insights can then be used by the salesperson to build rapport and trust with that customer, by having a more personal and relevant conversation. Importantly, this personalisation is what customers want.

AI is upending the traditional sales process


In the latest State of Sales report, 45% of sales teams list excessive administrative tasks – such as updating customer details and manual data entry – as their top sales challenge. Through automation, Einstein can remove these mundane admin tasks and inefficient processes. This is allowing sales reps to be more productive, directing their energy into selling and spending time with the customer.

Here are four ways artificial intelligence is making the sales function more efficient:

  1. Better lead prioritisation – one of the most important tasks a salesperson has is determining which leads should be prioritised, where their energy is best spent and what leads are most likely to convert. AI can be used to accelerate this process, quickly determining which prospects are further along in their buyer journey, and therefore more likely ready to buy.
  2. Improve forecasting – using data from previous deal cycles, artificial intelligence is able to forecast, very accurately, future sales. Again, high-performing sales teams are setting the bar here – they’re 10.5x more likely than underperformers to experience a major positive impact on forecast accuracy when using intelligent capabilities.
  3. Identify opportunities – imagine intuitively knowing if an account is at risk, or if you’re missing out on an opportunity that could help close the deal? AI can give you these abilities. For example, it flags potential risks (i.e. an account hasn't had an executive touch for a while). Or AI can scan a client’s emails to ensure nothing has fallen through the cracks (i.e. the customer mentioned $400,000 was too expensive, yet the deal is still forecast at $400,000).
  4. Stay on top of accounts – by processing the content from different newsfeeds, AI can advise sales reps if something significant has happened that warrants a phone call. For example, a client has appointed a new CMO or they’ve released their annual report that highlights an initiative you should be across.

A game changer


Ultimately, artificial intelligence has opened the gates for a smarter and more efficient sales process. With sales teams anticipating a 139% growth in usage over the next three years, it’s the most desirable intelligent technology of the moment – many sales teams intend to jump onboard the AI train, and these teams will have an edge.

The good news? The power of artificial intelligence is within easy reach. Learn how Salesforce’s AI – Einstein – can supercharge your sales team’s abilities. Watch the recent webinar recording, ‘Turn your customer data into closed deals with AI’, to learn how Sales Cloud Einstein puts the power of artificial intelligence into each of your reps’ hands.

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Vincent Cotte is Director Go-To-Market Marketing at Salesforce. Read more from Vincent Cotte.