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How AI Can Boost Your Sales Team’s Performance

How AI Can Boost Your Sales Team’s Performance

If your sales team hasn’t embraced AI yet, these are a handful of areas where it can prove game-changing.

The most effective, highly experienced sales reps often seem to have developed something akin to a sixth sense.

Even before customers come forth with an objection, the sales rep will make their pitch in a way that addresses it.

The sales rep will also reach out with a special offer, or news of a new product or service that perfectly aligns with a customer’s need, without them having to reach out to the company first.

It’s not that these sales reps can read minds, of course. They’ve simply learned a lot based on the relationships they’ve developed with their customers, and take action accordingly.

Artificial intelligence is a lot like that, but with one critical difference.

Whereas a great sales rep anticipates and proactively takes care of the needs on the customer accounts they manage, AI can do so at scale – for every account across the company’s addressable market.

An individual sales rep is also limited by the amount of customer information they can single-handedly absorb in the moment and remember long afterwards. AI has an infinitely greater capacity to collect, store, and manage customer data in large volumes.

It’s no wonder sales organizations have increased their use of AI by 76% since 2018, according to Salesforce’s latest State of Sales report.

That level of adoption is only set to continue as advancements in machine learning and generative technology such as EinsteinGPT become part of their arsenal of tools.

The true value of AI in sales is becoming two-fold: on one hand, the technology delivers insights that can help reps increase their win rate and crush their quotas. On the other, AI is automating some of the more routine tasks within sales, freeing up reps to develop the creativity and strategies they need to address the more complex aspects of selling.

If your sales team hasn’t embraced AI yet, these are a handful of areas where it can prove game-changing:

Future-proof your forecasting

Companies need to make critical decisions during every quarter of the year. Should they increase the supply, or scale back? Will they need to hire more people? How should pricing change? What kind of promotions could help hit the right target? Sales forecasts are key to helping guide these decisions so the company can execute according to plan.

AI helps by synthesizing historical data about your company’s rate of customer churn, rate of new deals, average deal size, contract renewals and more to identify trends and patterns. It can also weave in what-if scenarios based on everything from new investments the company is making, to macroeconomic fluctuations. This leads to forecasts the company can count on with greater confidence.

Coach based on contextual clues

Managers will always be an invaluable source of coaching for reps, but it’s not always possible to connect with them when deals are in play. Reps also need to communicate the right amount of detail for their managers to give them the tips they need.

This is why AI provides a helpful layer of assistance in terms of coaching. Thanks to cloud computing, the tools are always available to reps, wherever they are. The technology can also get super-granular about the forces that influence a win. This includes going through call recordings to highlight moments where customer sentiment indicates an intent to buy, or how often they’re referring to competitor firms.

Reps can even use AI for professional self-development, grading themselves on areas of strength and where they can improve, such as creative responses to customer challenges.

Enhance and accelerate sales enablement processes

Depending on what you’re selling, customers may have a lot of questions. Nurturing a deal will require continually coming back to them with proof points that will help nudge them closer to a “yes.” When you’re managing a slew of opportunities at once, this can take up an inordinate amount of a sales rep’s time.

Make sure you explore how AI can take on some of this heavy lifting. You can use it to automate outreach and follow-up messages, even in a way that is highly personalized and relevant. Let AI help learn which kinds of assets – such as eBooks, case studies, or research reports – will be best to send to a customer who is considering a purchase, and when they should send them.

Can AI tell you when a prospect is ready to book a meeting or a call? Can it score leads more quickly? Can it enrich the contact data? Yes, yes, and yes.

Next steps: Paving the way for AI in your sales department

Contrary to what you may imagine, introducing AI to your reps doesn’t have to be difficult or controversial. You just have to stay true to your history and your values.

Instead of positioning AI as a disruptive technology, for example, help your sales team see it as an evolution of steps you’ve already taken to modernize the way selling is done. If you’ve already adopted a CRM and mobile apps, for example, they’ve probably already experienced the difference it makes compared to the days when customer data was limited to sticky notes and lines in an Excel spreadsheet.

AI should be treated as just another way to enhance the employee experience your company is delivering. Empowering the people who work with customers is usually a core value for most companies, so make sure to show how AI builds upon that value.

Finally, try to paint a compelling picture about what a day in the life will look like for reps with AI, compared with all the mundane tasks that have taken up their time and energy until now. You might soon see how AI unlocks the ability for reps to not only get more done, but to get better at doing the things they do best.

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