Right now, sales teams have a problem. Customers are demanding a personal, responsive experience – while the business is demanding more sales productivity. The result? Sales is stuck in the middle. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to keep everyone happy.

At least, there aren’t if you keep doing things the same way you have so far. The environment is changing for sales professionals, and that requires them to adapt how they work.

Probably the biggest change is the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to free up time that salespeople need to build customer loyalty and rapport. 

It’s a step outside the comfort zone, but as our new sales experience guide points out, it might soon be the only way to deliver the attention your customers want, at the scale your business needs.


Getting close to your customer is not just a “nice to have”

The days are gone where salespeople can focus on building strong relationships with just a few, favourite customers.Today, personal relationships are the foundation of buyer loyalty. Customers are increasingly willing to switch suppliers if their experience is not personalised – and with around 70% of most companies’ revenue coming from repeat customers, reducing that potential churn is a business imperative.

Conversely, 89% of customers show more loyalty to suppliers they trust. But that trust needs to be earned through close contact, and consistently delivering on your promises.

The good news is, that investment you’ve made in building a solid, trusting bond with your customer pays dividends in your ability to upsell and cross-sell. Closeness brings the opportunity to spot further challenges, suggest solutions, and have the customer listen. After all, it’s usually much easier to sell to a customer you already know well.


Three ways that AI can build real sales relationships

As customer demands increase, AI will become just as common in the sales professional’s toolkit as email and the phone.

That’s because it enables you to deliver a personalised experience at scale – to direct your attention where it’s needed most and make a high number of customers feel like you’re focused exclusively on them.


1. Follow up based on your relationship, not a calendar

To a salesperson, time is literally money. And while follow-up calls scheduled at regular intervals rarely lead to business, keeping in touch is really important if you want to build a close relationship. It’s a tough balance to maintain.

Instead of using a uniform timetable for calls and follow-ups, AI can help by analysing your customer records and scheduling calls when the customer really needs them. It means every call is timed as effectively as possible to capture those valuable renewal and upsell opportunities.


2. Keep an eye on your customer’s world, without trying

If you want to be a trusted partner, you can’t afford to miss big news that affects your customer’s business. If they won an award, you should spot it and congratulate them. If there’s a downturn, you should be the first to ask if they’re okay. And you should certainly always know if they’re getting on well with your solution.

AI can keep an eye on news and product usage trends your customer is likely to care about, and notify you of anything important, so you’re always well informed and quick to respond.


3. Know exactly what your customer might want to do next

A good partner is full of good ideas to solve problems – but for a salesperson, that’s thinking time you might not have. And if your recommendations don’t fit your customer’s priorities or budget, that can undermine their confidence in your advice.

The ability of AI to mine through data on the buyer’s history and compare it to other similar customers means it can be used to recommend next steps that have worked well in corresponding situations. 

And what’s more, your AI can even help you to check and streamline customer quotes – and spot fresh opportunities within their budget – so turning your ideas into business is quick and easy.


Opening the door for a truly consultative sale

Used correctly, AI is a technology with the potential to bring buyers and salespeople closer together – enabling them to solve more problems, create better experiences, and choose the right solution. Ultimately, that means better outcomes for the customer, a better job for the salesperson, and better business results.

It may be artificial intelligence, but the connections it enables people to build are very human, and very real.

There are more tips on getting closer to your customer in Win and Grow Customers: Your Guide to Delivering Better Sales Experiences. Or, if you’d like to talk about your challenges in more detail, get in touch.