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How We’re Supercharging Sales with AI at Thoughtworks

Simone at an event at Salesforce Tower Sydney, where she inspired Salesblazer community members to prepare for the Age of AI.

AI is changing how we work in unprecedented ways, and sales teams are no exception. Simone Thompson, Head of Sales and Customer Growth at global technology consultancy Thoughtworks, shares her take on the future of AI for sales, and why she believes AI can strengthen the human-centric nature of selling.

When most of us started our careers, the idea of using artificial intelligence (AI) for sales sounded like science fiction. Technological limitations aside, how could such a human-centric profession use AI without losing human connection? 

Yet here we are, and the future is now. At Thoughtworks, we reached an inflection point about 12 months ago, and our AI strategy is accelerating as we speak. AI is increasingly integrated into our own sales processes, and we’re helping clients work through their AI strategies, too. Looking forward, I’m optimistic that there are many opportunities for AI to make sales teams more effective, and, perhaps surprisingly, help them build stronger relationships with their customers. 

How Thoughtworks is using CRM + AI + Data + Trust right now

Despite being a relationship-oriented industry, many sales professionals are only spending about 30% of their time with customers. Mundane day-to-day tasks have long been taking away time that sellers could spend nurturing relationships. AI stands to change that by automating routine tasks.

One area of sales that Thoughtworks has transformed with AI is account planning. With one click, AI can create an account plan by collating customer data, providing insights on challenges, competitors, key stakeholders and more. Weeks of work can be done in moments. Sellers have the data they need at their fingertips and are instantly armed with tools like prompts and talk tracks for more effective sales conversations. 

As a sales leader, I need to provide my team with consistent and intentional feedback. What excites me most about AI is that I can quickly understand how each seller interacts and works with clients. Grounded in data, I can give them the informed coaching they need to grow as human beings and as sales reps.

These are just a few examples of how we’re using AI to create more in-depth, personalised relationships, both internally and with customers. Critically, this only works if your data is stored on one central platform. At Thoughtworks, we have one data source, and that’s Salesforce.

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What does sales technology look like in 10 years? 

With 68% of salespeople already using AI to build sales plans or strategies and 74% using it to analyse market data, we’re already seeing inflection points in AI adoption. At Thoughtworks, we strive to ‘see around corners’ to stay ahead of the curve on sales technology, and that includes new ways to use AI. 

Hyper-personalisation is one strategy that organisations must adopt to stand out over the next decade. AI will be a key tool for greater personalisation in sales communications, but it’ll only work if it’s used in a human-centric way. I’ve always said that our superpower as sales professionals is perspective, and by combining this with the data processing powers of AI, we can provide content and offers that are highly targeted to our buyers. 

Virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) is another space to watch. With their commercialisation, it will become increasingly commonplace to have meaningful interactions and build trust in these virtual spaces. The board meetings and deals of the future may be joined through AR wearables, opening the possibility for presentations to be personalised for each person in the room. 

Cybersecurity is an increasingly important topic for sales professionals and their customers. While 63% are worried their company’s data is not ready for AI, emerging AI technologies may actually be the solution to safeguarding our data. One example is using blockchain to authenticate documents and conversations, something I believe we’ll see built into more tools soon.

Most importantly, I think that it will come down to one simple truth: the sellers who don’t use AI to automate routine tasks and back-end processes won’t be able to keep up with the sellers who do. Signing documents, customer insights, outbound generation, and follow-ups — AI makes us faster and more accurate at these tasks and more. 

Need help with your generative AI strategy?

Whether you’re just starting out with AI or already innovating, this guide is your roadmap to delivering a trusted program blending data, AI and CRM.

How not to get swept up in the hype

There’s a lot of hype around the potential of AI, and for good reason, but it will only work if you take the time to define what you want to get out of it. Now is the time to do your homework. Think about your strategy for the next 24 to 36 months and work backwards to determine how technology can support you to get there. That’s what we did at Thoughtworks — before implementing AI, we asked what tools and capabilities we needed to reach our targets.

I’ll reiterate that AI is only as good as what you feed it. You’ll only get quality insights and outputs if you’re starting with good inputs. This is why Salesforce is the lifeblood of our AI strategy and our organisation broadly. If you want AI to work for your sales team, too, then make sure your data is up-to-date, centralised, and organised.

Simone Thompson Head of Sales and Customer Growth, Thoughtworks

Simone Thompson is an accomplished sales and strategic leader, with over 12 years’ experience in the industry. Simone built a sales and operations team from the ground up at Itoc, a small QLD based consultancy firm, which was acquired by Thoughtworks in 2023. She now has a seat alongside the Thoughtworks regional executive leadership team, building the next generation of consultants and sellers for the organisation. Simone is also a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. She is actively involved in mentorship and leadership programs that empower women in technology, and has spoken at numerous industry events on the importance of creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace.

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