Over the past couple years, the machine learning niche has exploded into the mainstream. Startups have popped up left and right to show off their innovative new tools, and Google — the tech giant above all tech giants — now claims to be a machine learning company.
This sudden spike in AI interest is not as surprising as it might seem. People have wanted smart robots since the earliest days of sci-fi. Thanks to strides in natural language processing and other tech advances, the long-awaited arrival of machine learning is finally here.
For sales processes, machine learning is a dream come true. More than 40 percent of salespeople find prospecting leads to be the hardest part of the job, with 22 percent feeling that qualifying those leads is even harder. Now, AI can sift through prospects using advanced analytics to discover which ones are the most likely to convert, then spit out a list of the best leads in seconds. No more spending two-thirds of the day entering data and researching leads — with machines on the case, salespeople can spend their time talking to prospects and closing deals.
Not all sales tools are created equal, though. The successful sales teams of the future will lean on these to win more deals:
- Personalized mobile apps
Plenty of sales fall through due to issues beyond the salesperson’s control, and those issues are often a result of the company’s product or service. A service that is unclear in its execution — no matter how valuable that service may be — can cause potential buyers to back out quickly, leaving the salesperson in the lurch.
However, if the service is presented in a sleek and well-executed format that is easily accessible during a sales call, salespeople will be free to work their magic without restraint. When building a personalized app for the donor registration organization DKMS, the software development team at Clevertech focused on simplifying and streamlining the original system to help retain users. Its sophisticated mobile solution increased user retention by 60 percent and significantly improved awareness and understanding of DKMS’s service with the simplicity of a cleaner presentation.
Salespeople are only as strong as the product or service they’re looking to sell. By arming them with an easy-to-navigate and easy-to-transport display, companies can provide salespeople with everything they need to educate prospective clients on the value of what they provide.
- Smart search
AI-enabled searches cut through the mire of unqualified leads to pick out the individuals and companies best matched to the seller’s product or service. If there is one machine learning tool that every company needs, it’s this one.
Node, an AI-powered discovery engine, is going all-in on sales enablement. The company recently announced $5 million in new funding and brought in two top AI researchers to develop its latest product.
“AI has incredible potential in sales,” says Greg McBeth, head of revenue at Node. “New tools allow companies to discover valuable customer information that they would otherwise miss, then act on that information at the right time with the right message.”
Modern consumers prefer to do most product research on their own. They use smartphones to compare prices, check social media for reviews, and read articles about the pros and cons of each choice. By the time they reach out to a salesperson, they are almost ready to close. In B2B sales, the process is longer, but the premise is the same: Online research has replaced the old-school necessity of verbal description in sales.
Chatbots guide website visitors to complete tasks that get them closer to closing. They can provide information about local stores, set up appointments to speak with salespeople, and answer questions about products and services. The best ones embody the personalities of the brands behind them, giving would-be customers a more personalized experience.
- Cloud solutions
It’s 2018, and the office is now mobile. Salespeople on the go should not be isolated from their tools and resources. “Frustrated customers are beating up your salespeople because your sales teams are out there all on their own,” explains Phil Rainsberger, director of strategy and customer experience at Tier 1. “They don’t have answers to customers’ questions, they don’t have up-to-the-second information, they’re disconnected from your company’s systems, and as a result they’re unable to provide real-time information and make decisions that every type of business and customer is beginning to demand.”
Modern cloud solutions allow sales teams to access information from anywhere, empowering them to make faster decisions and capitalize on opportunities in the field. Not only do cloud solutions speed up the sales process, but they also lower the budget hit from slower, more expensive information systems.
Salespeople from cloud-powered companies can do in one meeting what those from other companies do in several, reducing the number of opportunities for deals to get away.
Sales teams won’t go away anytime soon, but their tool kits are expanding rapidly. The companies with the best sales results in the future will be the ones that leverage the full power of their technological advantages. These four technologies provide a starting point, but truly tech-centered sellers should keep up with the latest advancements to stay ahead of their industries.