AI assist boosts sales skills, but doesn’t replace them

July 13, 2019 | 3 minute read
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Artificial intelligence (AI) is bringing change and profit to the sales world, but it’s far from a replacement for the current skill set offered by seasoned sales representatives. Rather, the idea is to use AI to streamline existing sales processes and free up the pros to tackle the most important aspects of a deal.

In fact, an article published by the Harvard Business Review claims that as much as 47% of that process can be automated via machine intelligence, which can bring substantial efficiencies to any organization.

So, what’s the best way to take advantage of AI tools in the sales sphere? Let’s take a look at key areas where this technology can provide the most help.

Ride the algorithm

Matching clients with pricing used to be a dark art. Today, price optimization can be codified via AI algorithms that balance the desire to land a contract with the need to generate profit. This makes it easier for sales people to know the boundaries when negotiating, as well as understand the value of a client and a deal.

As any sales professional is aware, pricing is never static. The size of an order, duration of a contract, loyalty of a client, or even the time of year can all have a major impact on how a product or service is priced. What’s more, the proper use of discounting can be key to convincing a customer to choose your company rather than take their chances with a competitor.

By leveraging the ability of an AI algorithm to analyze each of the above factors – combined with current industry trends, the players on each side of the deal, and both successful and failed sales pitches with this client and others in the same industry – you can enjoy a fresh, data-driven perspective that can take much of the guesswork out of the pricing question.

Lead the way

It’s hard to make sales without the right leads. Qualifying leads can itself be a time-consuming process that distracts sales personnel from their primary task of making deals, making it difficult to properly allocate marketing dollars in the most effective areas.

Enter AI. According to another Harvard Business Review article, “With AI, the algorithm can compile historical information about a client, along with social media postings and the salesperson’s customer interaction history…and rank the opportunities or leads in the pipeline according to their changes of closing successfully.”

Glimpse the future

Sales forecasting is made easier by AI insight. By leveraging existing customer information and comparing it against historical data sets, it’s possible to use the algorithms to forecast where tomorrow’s dollars are lurking, and then market to that demand as it appears organically. In fact, some have identified forecasting as one of the top areas where machine learning can make an impact in sales.

“You need AI to make your forecasting process more accurate, and also to help your salespeople and guide them through virtual coaching, help steer them toward the more lucrative opportunities,” SiriusDecision’s Dana Therien told AI Business. “It’s essential to running a sales organization effectively.”

This content was originally published on SmarterCX by Oracle. It has been adapted for the Oracle Customer Experience blog.

Benjamin Hunting

Benjamin Hunting has covered science, medicine, and technology for a wide range of publications, and has also been published in the Journal of Medical Economics. He coded his first computer program at the age of 8 on a Commodore VIC-20 and still has the audio cassette he saved it on hanging around somewhere in his office.

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