Artificial intelligence makes light work of the challenges faced by sales teams by automating the time-consuming admin load to make time for all-important human connections. 

Even the best sales team in the world can have its performance improved by AI, and AI-powered tools are set to become increasingly critical to an organisation’s success.

According to a McKinsey study, companies that use AI in the next five to seven years will increase their cash flow by more than 120% by 2030. Companies that don’t use AI will instead see cash flow drop by 23% over the same period. Our research forecasts a 155% increase in AI adoption over the next two years with 54% of sales leaders expected to use AI by 2020. But in the meantime, only 21% of sales leaders say their organisations use AI today. 

The best sales teams boost every aspect of the sales cycle with AI-informed insights and automation. AI can be used to:

  1. Make your leads count

  2. Identify opportunity health

  3. Never miss the emails that matter

  4. Seek out strategic contacts

  5. Make your forecast one to trust
     

1. Make your leads count

 

An abundance of leads can sometimes feel like too much of a good thing. If your sales reps don’t have the time to sort and prioritise them, you could be losing more opportunities than you’re gaining if you don't introduce AI to your sales team.

Our State of Sales research found that high-performing sales teams are 1.6 times more likely than underperformers to prioritise leads based on data analysis, and are half as likely to prioritise based on intuition.
 



AI can analyse historical data to reveal what the best leads for your business look like so sales reps can focus their efforts on the leads most likely to convert. The patterns and characteristics detected by AI are more sophisticated and focused that the simple criteria traditionally used to rate leads. 

The result? More lead conversion in less time – sales productivity at its finest.
 

2. Identify opportunity health

 

AI also flags which opportunities that need attention and which are tracking along well to a likely successful conclusion. Given the pressure on sales reps to manage many opportunities concurrently, this kind of analysis is a timesaver as well as a shortcut to high-performance. 

AI can analyse the attributes of an opportunity and compare them with common attributes of closed deals. Think of it as a very detailed and comprehensive checklist of criteria – one that most sales teams don’t have the resources to come up with, let alone execute at speed. 

That criteria might include engagement frequency, for example. AI might show that accounts whose engagement drops below five times per fortnight are three times less likely to see through a deal. Where a sales rep managing more than 30 opportunities at the same time has little chance of realising this, bring AI on board and you have a powerful way of identifying these small but crucial signals and acting on them.  
 

3. See the emails that matter

 

AI can identify and prioritise the most important communications to a high level of detail. Need to know when new pricing is addressed but don’t have time to wade through hundreds of emails to find where it’s addressed? AI can take care of it. Want a heads up when a new executive is mentioned in a thread? AI will find it. 

Using AI, sales reps see critical communication with less legwork, and have more time to spend building relationships with their clients.
 

4. Seek out strategic contacts

 

All good sales reps know that a warm introduction to a key contact in an account can be the beginning of a beautiful and lucrative relationship. But those introductions can be hard to come by.

Fortunately, AI can help find colleagues who have existing relationships with key contacts. AI makes it easy to find such colleagues and gives the sales rep the advantage of getting the lowdown on the contact before the introduction is made. It’s the perfect example of technology working to enable the human touch that’s still so crucial to success in sales. 
 

5. Make your forecast one to trust

 

Are you over or under committing? Are you underestimating or overestimating your team’s ability? 

Forecasting accurately is a perfect job for AI – it can decode the tendencies that exist in your sales cycle, right down to each and every salesperson. AI’s predictive capabilities shine here by anticipating where the forecast will land and revealing the factors that play into the prediction – including the personal forecasting tendencies across each sales rep. 

Forecasting has never been easier or more accurate than with AI. Indeed, while only 34% of sales leaders currently leverage intelligent forecasting, 90% of those that do say it helps them do their job more effectively.

These are just five of the many ways AI can deliver insights, recommendations and predictions that will help sales reps to excel at their jobs. 

Find out more insights and tools that help build a high-performing sales team. Download the Frost & Sullivan report ‘Modern-day Sales Team, Yesterday’s CRM?’.