2020 may be a breakthrough year for AI in business. As you probably know, AI stands for artificial intelligence, a concept that has been around for more than 50-years. While true AI (sci-fi movie style) isn’t here quite yet, it’s also used to refer to for computer algorithms that are making our lives a lot easier. You’ll find AI tools all around us, from the natural language processing that lives in your smartphone to the machine learning programs that help your Alexa respond to your request.
But artificial intelligence in business is about to make a big splash in the sales world. Here’s how AI for sales will soon be a game changer for your company.
Understanding Artificial Intelligence in Business
AI is the thinking machine. Elements of AI are behind some of the common tasks you use every day, such as Google’s search features or your Facebook newsfeed. The goal of AI is that our computers will someday be cognitively aware, but for now, it’s an area of computer science that helps machines improve their responses to your requests by “learning” and improving.
Harvard studies the phenomenon of AI in business applications. According to them, some of the most common uses today for these tools include:
- Updating files and cross-referencing data;
- Product recommendations and forecasting consumer behaviors;
- Fraud detection;
- Personalizing marketing messages;
- Chatbots that perform customer service.
But the Harvard Business Review reports that the two biggest areas where AI will have an impact are marketing and sales.
AI for Sales
Chances are your marketing and sales teams are using these elements of AI every day. The latest Customer Relationship Management (CRM) uses AI algorithms to improve the performance of these teams.
Today, AI in sales can take many forms but all could have a huge impact on your bottom line:
You may not realize it, but AI tools are active in e-commerce platforms. When you make a purchase on Amazon, the platform uses interactive machine learning and predictive analytics to suggest other products you may also want to buy. Sales teams can use these same tools to help them score leads or to send out automated marketing to top prospects to move them nearer to the close.
AI can help you retain customers longer by creating a personalized experience that makes them feel valued. AI does this by learning the preference of the individual consumer and the predicting future interests based on prior behaviors. The Harvard Business Review reports that using AI to personalize promotions has lead brick-and-mortar retailers to a 1-2% percent sales increase. This personalization can also be used to upsell the customer and improve the image of your brand in the market.
- Smart Search
AI in CRM platforms can help sales reps find the marketing or sales materials they need quickly. Sales teams spend an inordinate amount of time searching for the right documents to help them close deals. AI algorithms can track the customer lifecycle and score them based on past behaviors and their likelihood to close new business. The software can then suggest marketing materials and activities that will help move the customer through the sales pipeline and nearer to a closed deal.
- Sales Forecasting
Businesses often struggle to find the reality behind their sales forecasts. AI tools are now used to create more accurate sales forecasts by basing it on the underlying causal demand drivers instead of prior outcomes. The Harvard Business Review says AI can improve forecasting accuracy by 10 to 20%. This translates into a huge potential impact on the bottom line. AI can also be used to automate forecast reporting and establish decision trees for contracting that will lessen sales busywork and close deals faster.
- Data Visualization
Selling is a people-driven process; AI algorithms can make selling more data-driven. But it’s spotting the patterns in the data where AI can give companies a competitive advantage. Data visualization presents business analytics in an organized easy to understand graphical or pictorial format. The AI can help sales managers easily spot activities that can be replicated to close more deals or red flags that stymie the effectiveness of teams. If the software is in the cloud, this data visualization can occur in real time, allowing organizations to spot and respond to market trends faster.
An important benefit of AI is that the computer is “smart” enough to handle manual tasks that take up an inordinate amount of time. This is particularly valuable in sales, where the studies indicate they only spend about one-third of their time selling. AI tools can take the busywork out of sales. A good CRM with AI features will automate social media, prospecting emails, analytics, contract approval, and much more.
When you think of AI, you likely imagine autonomous vehicles or a medical device that performs surgery without a doctor. Both of these futuristic breakthroughs are in production now.
But the algorithms that make up AI are here now and their positive impact on sales and marketing will continue to grow. Today, AI for sales is can be as close as a CRM upgrade to the latest Microsoft tools.
Microsoft AI for Sales CRM
The AI in the Dynamics 365 for Sales CRM can help your sales teams better manage their pipelines, increase their closed deals, and have a more accurate forecast.
The best CRM technology should support sales teams in their efforts to work smarter. That’s why Microsoft has built AI algorithms into their CRM to help sales teams with the fundamental skill of time management. Microsoft’s AI CRM can guide sales teams through activities to improve the functional performance of even your worst producer. Automated task reminders push sales teams to work smarter and achieve more KPIs. AI predictive analytics can provide sales teams with suggestions for the upsell based on prior client behaviors. Real-time data can help managers correct an off-course sales month well before they’re at risk of not hitting their numbers.
Can a software platform really do all this for your sales team? With AI, it can. To see how AI can positively impact your sales performance, contact the team at IES for a demo of the Dynamics 365 CRM.