If you think artificial intelligence is some futuristic concept relegated to science fiction novels and film, you’re wrong. In fact, artificial intelligence (AI) is present in our daily lives—when we search Google or buy products on Amazon.
Simply defined, AI is an area of computer science that explores the capability of machines to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as reasoning, planning, learning, and understanding language. For AI to work, it requires three major elements: smarter data models, easy access to unlimited amounts of data, and cheap and powerful cloud computing. Today, these three elements are becoming not only accessible, but commonplace.
This begs the question: What is the role of AI in sales?
Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research, says in a blog post that AI shows
“the most potential in not only democratizing decisions, but also augmenting the sales team with actionable insight.” For instance, Wang explains that an organization’s sales function could use AI to determine which attributes drive larger deal sizes, longer-term lifetime value, and greater loyalty. “This would change how you’d assign territories, prioritize prospects, and drive customer success management for existing clients,” Wang concludes.
Wang is not alone in this assessment. Salesforce Research finds that 61 percent of employees expect artificial intelligence that automates or assists in work-related activities to have a major or moderate impact on their daily work lives. And a new report from Salesforce.com AI for CRM: A Field Guide to Everything You Need to Know offers some examples of AI in action:
- Sales teams will be able to use predictive analysis to prioritize leads.
- Digital assistants will help maintain the relationship once it’s established by scheduling calls and issuing reminders
- The AI-driven customer service will automatically recommend the best content at the right time.
- Marketing can build predictive journeys for every customer.
- IT can embed intelligence, creating smarter apps for employees and customers.
According to Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce.com, we are in an “AI Spring” and he predicts that we will start to see more artificial intelligence applied across sales and marketing. Just consider a few recent releases to hit the market:
- Gong.io: a cloud-based artificial intelligence software that helps improve the performance and productivity of B2B sales teams by analyzing their conversations with prospects and providing guidance about the best way to close a deal.
- Salesforce Einstein: artificial intelligence built into the core of the Salesforce Platform; it enables sales to use clicks or code to build AI-powered apps that get smarter with every interaction.
“Eventually, helpful AI features will be on the phone, in chat, email, and any other type of communication people use,” says Richard Socher, chief scientist for Salesforce. “These kinds of things will become commodities, and if you have highly accurate and helpful AI, people will love your services.”
No doubt, artificial intelligence is gaining a stronger foothold in the sales stream. Sales enablement leaders need to closely examine this growing trend and consider how they can use it as a tool to develop their sales talent.