Automation and data insights are making sales smarter
Sales and marketing are two of the worlds fastest moving industries. The techniques used in both have evolved at such a pace, it can be hard to keep track of new innovations. However, AI remains a crucial tool as both industries fight to stay relevant, and drive revenue for their businesses.
Sales and marketing are now at the point where they can be carried out like an exact science. Many experts claim you can forge a path to success simply by following proven theories. This change in the way sales and marketing teams are operating has also given rise to a more considered, results-driven approach.
Now, instead of approaching a marketing campaign with a vague idea of what the end goal will be, marketing and sales teams already have insight on what they’re likely to achieve and what steps they need to take to achieve it, all thanks to AI and data.
This trend is by no means brand new, but the advent of a more resilient and functional level of AI has meant data is now more useful than ever before.
When there’s an AI in team…
By far one of the most challenging aspects of sales is finding leads. Sales prospecting is one of the most important pillars of the sales process, and one that takes up more time than sales teams would like. It’s argued that, on average, sales teams spend eight hours a week prospecting – putting in the long hours to find leads, rather than actually selling to them. To further compound this challenge, the finding of low quality leads is an all-too common result. This waste money and, more importantly, time.
We estimate that B2B companies spend approximately 60 per cent of resources generating leads that result in conversion rates of less than 1 per cent. Inaccurate or out of date information leads to businesses targeting prospects when they are not ready to buy or targeting people who no longer work at the company in question.
The industry often struggles with stagnating data, records and stats that have far passed their use by date. Static Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data rapidly loses its relevance. In most cases, it is contextually flawed at the outset, which means that organisations are missing out on both identifying and targeting their most valuable prospects.
In the past, prospecting was less important. More businesses favoured cold call strategies to sell their services, and it used to work. To a degree, it still does, but much more is now possible.
Today, AI can almost be considered as an extra pair of hands in the prospecting process. By using AI to automate the process of finding and following prospects and leads, sales teams have more freedom to do what they actually want to do – sell.
Improving outdated processes
While AI can be great at prospecting and nurturing client relationships, B2B sales managers can also use the same kind of technology to supervise their own internal team’s performance. A recent study found that six out of ten respondents (61 per cent) recognised the value of adopting AI to streamline day to day processes, of which this is just one.
This kind of streamlining can be done by assessing revenue pipelines, finding which salespeople are likely to hit certain quotas and getting a snapshot of which deals stand a good chance of being closed – all processes which are made easy with AI.
The value for managers is in being able to identify high performing salespeople and accounts that are likely to be successful, meaning that they can refocus energy and resources to those parts of their business. By wasting fewer resources on sales that are less likely to be successful, there is a vast improvement to sales processes and pipeline management. This also lends beneficial processes to HR departments and those monitoring team performance and allows for adjustments to be made to ensure a smoother way of working.
AI and customer experience
The use of AI can persist long after a sale is made. Aftercare is one of the other critical parts of the sales process. After all, a sale does not just end once a customer is on board as a retainer client or has purchased a product. Today, sales is a much more long lasting service that extends far beyond the initial process.
This is one area where businesses are already using AI to bolster their existing processes. It’s rare to come across a website today that isn’t using chatbots to enable at least a basic form of 24/7 customer support, allowing customers to find answers to their questions when human handlers aren’t readily available to assist. AI can also gather data from such customer interactions and provide valuable insight and analytics, improving the sales pipeline for future conversions.
AI can provide a smoother and much more convenient customer service experience to help improve customer happiness. Happier customers lead to improved retention rates and give marketing teams the foundations to build off the back of good testimonials and referrals.
The key ingredient in all of this is data. Whether it’s paid data or simply mined from existing free sources, without data, none of the processes work. When businesses use tools to funnel relevant and up to date data, they stand head and shoulders above the competition.
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