Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Here’s How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Sales Teams

Liz Alton
October 23, 2019

4 minute read

This is a preview of the on-demand webinar, AI for Modern Sales Teams.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is helping modern sales teams better understand customer needs and sell more effectively. In a webinar co-hosted by Aberdeen and Oracle, Aberdeen VP and Principal Analyst Omer Minkara discusses research that reveals brands with best-in-class sales organizations that are supported by AI tools achieve results such as:

  • 99% year-over-year improvements in revenue from customer referrals
  • 77% improvements in sales representative engagement levels
  • 38% year-over-year improvement in revenue from net-new clients

Read on to learn more from Minkara and Oracle Senior Product Manager Kayleigh Halko about how winning brands are using artificial intelligence solutions to drive higher sales performance.

What keeps sales professionals up at night?

To understand how AI tools help sales organizations reach their goals, it’s important to understand their most pressing concerns. In the webinar, Minkara shares results from a 2019 survey that Aberdeen conducted asking 369 professionals for the biggest strategic issues they faced. A number of key themes emerged.

The most significant challenge across both B2B and B2C organizations, notes Minkara, is that sales dynamics have shifted as buyers get access to more information and can make better buying decisions. Businesses are also concerned with finding ways to differentiate themselves from the competition with a strong customer experience.

“That essentially speaks to innovation in the area of CX. The ability to find ways to make it easier for the customers to transact with your business and delight your customers while ensuring that their experiences are consistent all around when they interact with your business,” says Minkara.

AI helps alleviate sales challenges with access to better data

One way sales leaders are combatting these common challenges is through the better and more strategic use of data. “According to the recent survey data that we have just collected, only about a third of sales leaders are telling us that they are fully satisfied with their ability to use existing account data to do their jobs. Those jobs may be shrinking the average sales cycle. It could be increasing renewals our growing customers spend,” notes Minkara.

Minkara explains that the obstacles sales teams cite to maximizing the impact of data on their processes vary. Some don’t have enough data, or they struggle to find real-time accurate data in their CRM systems. Others simply don’t have the human resources or analytical capabilities to source, analyze, and present the data needed to meet today’s customer needs, which change and evolve at lightning speed.

Another important obstacle is data quality. Oracle Senior Product Manager Kayleigh Halko discussed Oracle’s recent acquisition of DataFox and notes that DataFox conducts data analyses with customers to look for duplicates, missing fields, and other data issues. “What they learned is that 52% of company data in CRMs in erroneous. How can we expect sales organizations to turn that data into actionable insights if the data is not good to begin with? And that’s even assuming that AI is capable of producing good recommendations—how would we know that they’re good, because they’re not based on good data?” says Halko.

How AI solutions change sales results

Minkara notes that there are three core ways to drive digital transformation within sales activities. The first is using AI and machine learning to eliminate data errors and improve processes such as sales forecasting, the proposal process, and more. The second is driving continuous sales throughout the customer lifecycle, which links sales with both marketing awareness and customer loyalty.

“You should, in practice, continuously be selling to your customers by monitoring their effort, their needs, and finding opportunities to serve those needs,” advises Minkara. He notes that best-in-class sales organizations do this through a variety of tactics, including turning customer services interactions into sales opportunities.

The final step noted in the webinar is strengthening alignment between marketing and sales. Halko notes that sales leaders can be a critical point for collaboration in companies strengthening their customer experience. “I think particularly sales leaders in the sales organization are in a unique position to be a center point for that cross-functional transformation that we’re talking about. Sales, despite the different ways customers are reaching out, does have a core responsibility for a critical buying moment. They rely on more than just their CRM or salesforce automation to support them in that moment. They need the data for marketing. They need to feel confident that their territories and their pipelines are correct,” she says.

In today’s complex sales landscape, organizations are dealing with greater challenges to identify and meet the needs of demanding buyers. And sales organizations that identify strategies to improve both data integrity and access through tools, and look at opportunities for automation, are laying a foundation for future success. As part of a larger digital transformation strategy, AI sales tools can help drive powerful sales results.

If you’re interested in learning more, watch AI for Modern Sales Teams.

Liz Alton
Liz Alton
Liz Alton is a writer and content strategist specializing in B2B technology, digital marketing, and the customer experience. Her clients include creative agencies, Fortune 500 brands, and venture-backed startups.
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