Artificial intelligence (AI) has already made inroads in our everyday lives, whether it be in the form of entertainment provided by Netflix, shopping on Amazon or ordering an Uber. However, it is not only impacting our personal, everyday lives.

In the world of commerce, AI is set to transform many areas of business, including that of sales. The sales function has traditionally relied on face-to-face interaction, and now the adoption of AI is creating a new dimension.

According to the research and advisory firm, Gartner, by the year 2020, AI will become a more integral part of the sales process for around 30% of firms around the world.

But how exactly is AI impacting sales? We look at the key areas where AI is revolutionising the sales process.

Here, in the first of two blogs, we consider the effect of AI on the sales process, its value in building customer experience and its role in sales forecasting.

Focus on selling and not the mundane tasks

Sales reps spend a considerable amount of time doing repetitive tasks which take them away from selling – closing sales and achieving sales targets. Monotonous administrative responsibilities such as data entry, generating quotes, writing emails and sorting and qualifying leads into potential customers prevent sales reps from communicating and selling to prospective and existing clients. In fact, 80% of their time is taken up by researching and prospecting leads, leaving only 20% of their time to focus on sales closures.

Artificial intelligence can help simplify sales tasks and automate the back-end tasks that sales teams have been responsible for and which have held them back from selling. Integrated in business applications, AI can boost operational efficiency, helping them in budgeting and forecasting, for instance, as well as sort and qualify leads, converting them into opportunities for the sales team.

AI bots are now replacing humans in scheduling and booking meetings, identifying new contacts and high-priority emails as well as annotating phone calls.

As a form of personal assistant, AI enables sales professionals to devote more time to meeting potential customers, nurturing relationships and expanding their sales accounts. Effectively, it allows better use of their expertise whilst increasing revenue.

Build customer experience

Customer experience can either help you keep your customers or drive them away. As relationship-building leads to increased sales, firms need to pay closer attention to the buying experience. This is where AI helps. With its ability to track and analyse customer data, it can provide sales teams with the most important information to create a predictive experience for the potential customer. An AI-backed algorithm helps develop a sales strategy with such analysis leading to a more personalised customer experience.

Long-term patterns and trends can be identified in order to anticipate what customers will do next. Customer behavioural analysis ensures that the content delivered to the customer aligns with their sales needs. Pitches can be tailored and delivered at the exact moment a customer is likely to make a purchase.

Sales forecasting

Assisting sales teams predict a better customer experience, AI also leads to enhanced sales forecasting. By transferring sales forecasting from humans to machine-learning algorithms, you benefit from large volumes of data being analysed at a fast rate, saving time as well as the element of human error. As AI can more accurately forecast sales and profits, it helps firms gain further insights and strengthen decision-making. For example, sales managers are better able to determine where more manpower and resources can be allocated.

In next week’s concluding part, we look the role of AI in providing leads and predicting sales conversions, in upselling and cross-selling and, last, but by no means least, in performance management.

Read: How AI is transforming sales – Part II

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