Artificial intelligence has long ago become more than a futuristic idea and is now being successfully utilized by giants like Google, Facebook, Microsoft etc. SMBs that are happy with their CRM and consider implementing AI an overkill or something only enterprises can benefit from risk missing out on their “lifetime opportunity”.
For example, Gartner says that, by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be performed without human representatives, who will be replaced by machines that will manage human-like interaction with clients thanks to their ability to gather customer data from multiple channels. You’re sceptical? Well, most experts agree that such a prediction is way too brave for the short-term perspective. Nevertheless, it goes without saying that using AI technologies in tandem with a CRM for sales, marketing and customer service is not a passing tendency, and will not just “have an impact” on the delivered results, but will revolutionize the whole industry.
What Makes AI for Sales Sought After?
Whether in B2C or B2B segments, businesses are striving towards collecting lots of customer data in order to better understand their customers’ needs, behaviour and expectations, which essentially boils down to driving sales. The main problem here lies in the fact that CRM systems were developed to collect data, store it and provide at the user’s request, but not interpret it. This is where AI comes into play – it can analyze vast amounts of data and provide relevant insights at the appropriate times, without any human “stimulation”. What is more, it is capable of learning and improving its performance over time.
A paper by Expert Systems with Applications demonstrates that data-based prediction models already outperform humans at B2B sales forecasting and providing sales strategy recommendations. And this is not it. See what are the benefits and possibilities AI can bring for sales.
- Improving sales reps’ performance
AI can function as a CRM based sales reps’ personal assistant, helping them become more effective and boost work efficiency. For example, AI can provide helpful contextual recommendations right within a CRM: suggest relevant content to forward to a customer based on the previous communications, define the best time to send a follow up email, identify upsell and cross sell opportunities based on customer behaviour and purchase history, offer content that is likely to have the biggest influence for successfully closing a deal etc.
- Boosting productivity
AI is capable of taking over the mundane CRM tasks like note taking or manual data input, scheduling meetings on a rep’s behalf etc. This frees up much of the sales staff time for creating proposals and actually selling.
- Smart lead scoring
If sales reps only knew which leads are “worth” their efforts and are likely to convert, there wouldn’t be so much time and resources spent on the leads that jump off the hook after a lengthy nurturing period. AI can analyze multiple factors of customer behaviour and prioritize leads by their likelihood to become customers. This is an excellent way to effective resource allocation, when the most promising leads are assigned to the most experienced team members and given more time than the low priority ones.
- Improving customer satisfaction
Indirectly, AI contributes to customer success and satisfaction – its recommendations and insights enable sales reps react promptly, operate the most relevant data, respond without delays and maximally personalize communication with each prospect based on the data pulled by AI. All of this contributes to building trust and increasing customer retention level.
It is now apparent that companies harnessing the power of AI for more effective sales have good reasons to do so. Clearly, there’s no way it can equal human sales reps in the tasks where one needs to deal with emotions, use their creativity or act in an ambiguous situation. Nevertheless, it has unparalleled capabilities in interpreting huge volumes of information that no human is able to do at scale, and producing valuable insights for ultimate results.
It is also obvious that AI can be (and already is, in many cases) no less beneficial for marketing, customer service and all other customer-facing spheres where effective communication and prompt data analysis can make a difference. What kind of difference? Well, it won’t take long before we speak about it in our following posts.