AI for Sales: The Disruptive Technology Finally Delivering Sales Success
Who wouldn’t want results like 95% forecast accuracy and a 20% increase in win rate?
by Tim Knight, CMO, CloudApps.
The application of AI for sales teams will finally be the technology breakthrough that supplies such promised benefits. Benefits that CRM technology has for years struggled to deliver.
Let’s take a look at the underlying issues that have prevented success to date and uncover the technology that will finally take sales teams to the next level.
Cloud Computing – A Fake Revolution
The ‘Cloud Computing’ revolution was sold to us as the new ‘must-have’ disruptive technology model. A model that would democratise business success for all, not just those with deep pockets. This promise of success was based on the idea that the traditional, cumbersome ‘on-premise’ technology model had failed us.
Taking the current heavyweight in the CRM space, Salesforce, as an example, the promise was sold across the years using various taglines that included: ‘Experience Success’ and ‘Success. Not Software’. Success that has frankly yet to surface.
A Time to Reflect on CRM Success (and the lack of it!)
After over two decades of Cloud Computing, it’s time to take a collective pause and reflect on the reality of what is happening in many businesses across the globe.
We have talked to many business leaders and most have been left wondering just what value they are getting from their latest CRM system.
Yes, the ‘Cloud Computing’ model offers a disruptive new way to pay for software, allowing it to reach a wider audience. It has also arguably allowed sales teams to get started far faster than traditional software. But has it really delivered ‘success’?
And by that, I don’t mean IT success in implementing the project. I mean tangible business success. The sort of uptick in sales revenue that every CRM system (on-premise or Cloud) has been promising for years but has consistently failed to deliver.
Why Haven’t We Seen the Results we Expected?
Why does CRM technology continue to fail us? Primarily, because vendors have lacked a focus on end-users and their needs. The focus has been on technology alone.
The basic problem with CRM systems hasn’t ever been addressed. And shock horror, it’s not the technology delivery model, it’s the users.
To be successful, CRM systems need sales reps to spend time recording their ‘sales activity’. This allows their managers to report on progress and more accurately forecast the business.
However, we all know sales reps hate admin tasks that detract from actual selling time. So why are we surprised when they fail to enter the data that managers crave?
Sales reps are inherently self-serving and struggle to put their time behind initiatives that lack an obvious benefit to them personally. With CRM, the payback is unclear to most reps and as a result, user adoption remains poor and projects often fail to deliver.
Therefore, the underlying problem is not a technology delivery challenge, but an end-user behaviour issue.
It’s a Buyer-Centric World and Sales Reps Need Help
To highlight the problem, only recently did Salesforce add capabilities focused on the end-user, such as ‘Einstein Activity Capture’. A capability that helps automate the process of adding email-based conversations with prospects to the relevant records in the CRM system. A small but promising start.
The good news is that this ray of hope has been amplified by the advances in AI and their application to assist sales reps.
However, a common mistake prevails.
The ‘cookie-cutter’ approach to selling that erroneously believes every deal follows the same path to success.
And one where every rep is trained to apply the same approach to each deal, regardless of circumstance.
This is, of course, a fanciful notion and one that doesn’t sit well in the modern buyer-centric world. There is so much information available online to buyers. According to Gartner research, when B2B buyers are considering a purchase‚ they spend only 17% of that time meeting with potential suppliers. When buyers are comparing multiple suppliers‚ the amount of time spent with any one sales rep may be only 5% or 6%. All pointing to a low level of engagement with potential vendors.
The ‘Deal of One’ – How AI for Sales Brings Accuracy to Selling
It’s finally time for a truly disruptive approach to selling.
Simply changing the technology delivery model and expecting better results hasn’t worked. So what is it that we can do differently?
Imagine a world where every deal is seen as unique. Where we can break away from the rigid model of traditional sales processes and sales methodologies to provide each prospect with a buying experience that is tailored to them specifically.
Successful deals have the right attributes applied to them at the right time. And if you miss applying a crucial step at any point then the deal takes a different, new and potentially dangerous path. This notion that every deal is unique just isn’t catered for with rigid processes. We need to think of every deal as a ‘deal of one’.
AI for Sales – The Disruptive Approach to Selling that Delivers Results
Once we break down the traditional thinking then we can start to embrace the possibilities AI can now deliver for us.
With advances in AI known as ‘Deep Learning’, it’s possible for the technology to rapidly learn from our historical deals (both won and lost). AI engines can rapidly find patterns and pathways that would be invisible to human analysis.
Now imagine reps and sales managers having access to a CRM system that could tell them if a deal was going to close as expected. A system that could predict not just if, but when and for how much.
These are the advances that AI is now able to offer sales reps and their managers.
Not that impressed yet? How about if the CRM system could advise the reps on ‘next most impactful action’ for the deal at this point in time? Or how about adding in advice on actions that would have a negative impact on the deal and should be avoided at all costs?
This allows every deal to be treated as a unique ‘deal of one’. Every deal having a unique path chartered to success, ensuring it stays on track to closure.
It also means only the deals most likely to close find their way onto the forecast. These are the deals that can be afforded your scarce resources to bring them home.
What Results Can we Expect with the Application of AI for Sales?
This might sound like a futuristic approach but it’s already a reality. And the results are staggering.
In a world where less than 1 of every 2 deals forecast to close actually ends up closing, this approach has consistently demonstrated over 95% forecast accuracy.
Early indications from AI-driven ‘guided selling’ suggest that a 20% increase in win rate is a very conservative starting point. Imagine combining that with a 19% increase in average deal size.
What would the impact on your revenue be from adopting this new approach?
Why not try our ROI calculator to see what the CloudApps AI-driven Sales Effectiveness Platform could do for you?