Staying ahead of the game in sales is no easy task, with the business landscape being more and more competitive year after year. Today, in order to acquire new customers and keep the existing ones, you have to utilize vast amounts of data from distributed sources that produce new information every minute. Because while you’re neglecting this opportunity, some of your competitors may not and thus get an upper hand.
Technology nowadays allows companies to dive deep into information about customer demand and behavior and gives opportunities to tailor your offer accordingly. And we all know that this is the key to closing more sales. This is especially true now when sales cycles are getting longer and conversion rates drop. The whole process is very tiresome and requires a lot of validation, phone calls, needs discovery, meetings, and detailed proposals, all to establish a healthy relationship with a potential client.
But the main question is how you are going to acquire the knowledge and a deep understanding of your customers.
CRM platforms like Salesforce became great tools for a sales rep to pull all this information and automate certain routine tasks. However, the success of any deal still depends on a sales team, who need to interpret the data and make meaningful information out of it. However, with the rise of artificial intelligence, the roles of CRM can shift from simply being a tool to a useful assistant. The rise of AI can also further streamline the sales process by removing intermediate actions such as logging in the account and selecting prospects tab. Instead, you can simply tell your new assistant to show it to you – making it a little bit more personalized and tailored to the needs of a sales rep.
AI is a Natural Next Step in CRM Software Evolution
Salesforce CRM along with other giants of the industry, such as Oracle, Microsoft, and SAP, are all placing their bets on artificial intelligence for business. Salesforce has released its own AI platform, called Einstein, which acts as a personal data scientist, allowing users to truly leverage the power of data.
Microsoft, on the other hand, has acquired LinkedIn, which will provide the company with data from millions of profiles worldwide. This data can be used to bolster software solutions like Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Although CRM is a powerful tool, the absence of predictive analytics and machine learning within the system makes it limited. As the information grows, it becomes overwhelming for users, and before you know it – you’re back to square one. AI-infused Salesforce will provide sales departments with the ability to quickly and effectively prioritize audiences.
However, the most important feature of AI learning algorithms is to interpret data, based on your business requirements and past deals history.
Already, companies report that well-integrated sales process automation can lead to as much as 40% increase in deals closed. It has become crucial to raise the bar on customer service and switch to multi-channel customer service as consumers resort to different channels. And as the consumer demand continues to grow, CRM has to complement human efforts and provide better and faster solutions.
Naturally, there is a huge concern that artificial intelligence will replace sales professionals. This is far from reality. Today, even the best AI still cannot write a compelling letter to a prospect, and it’s highly unlikely that even in 20 years we’ll see a fully automated sales department. What should be worrying is the possibility of being replaced by another salesperson who is empowered by the intelligence provided by a machine. Because those salespeople who master the technology will reap its numerous benefits and establish a new status quo. Just like typewriters replace handwriting letters, which, in turn, was replaced by email.
Salesforce Artificial Intelligence Benefits
The most obvious feature is that with the introduction of AI to sales support software, like Salesforce Einstein, repetitive and mundane tasks can be easily automated. But it’s far from being the only function.
Machine learning in sales
Machine learning is a part of the artificial intelligence concept that enables a digital application to recognize certain patterns and build behavioral models. Then, based on your business’ criteria of success, the AI systems can learn for themselves what action needs to be taken in order to achieve productive results.
The more data you feed into AI, the better precision and therefore better decision making can be achieved. The model learns from new data to alter its process and adapt to any change.
Think of it as a resolution of your screen, the higher it gets, the better the image becomes. And today, companies like Amazon and Netflix are utilizing machine learning to improve customer experience.
AI can actually assist business explore new areas of possibilities. For example, an artificial intelligence system can recognize that sending one of two follow-up emails within one week after meeting a potential client can produce results for up to eight weeks after. Such details will be completely overlooked by a human.
Sales forecasting AI benefits
Forecasts are extremely complicated and they consume a lot of analytics and human resources, especially in B2B sales. Its greatest weakness, however, is that it is highly vulnerable to human error. Even one incorrect assumption that results from confirmation bias can disrupt the entire model.
The process of forecasting itself can be fully automated. AI provides quite accurate sales forecasts based on all customer contacts and historic sales outcomes. But of course, the algorithm lacks simple human imagination and intuition that comes from years of experience and thinking outside the box. AI-enabled sales forecasts in Salesforce CRM will still need a human operator, who can see new emerging trends and course correct the system when it’s necessary.
Sales marketing automation
A recent study, conducted by Forbes showed that over 53% of marketers are looking forward to adopting artificial intelligence in the next year or two.
Marketing and sales have a lot of things in common. Like the fact that personalization of any kind tends to improve results. However, personalization in marketing is a highly difficult thing, when you go beyond simply automating email signature. AI can transform and adapt marketing content, based on its understanding of customer behaviour. Today, customers aren’t really keen on receiving auto-reply messages, especially in the B2B sector, where it is considered simply unprofessional.
Improve sales without hiring more sales reps
Any company is looking to increase their bottom line, and the most common way to do so is by expanding your sales department. But, hiring more people who are involved in the related activities will lead to additional costs and it may as well drive your revenue down.
Salesforce Einstein and other AI platforms are great compromise, as it takes most routine but nevertheless important tasks off the shoulders of your sales reps. This gives your team more time to dedicate to closing sales. Additionally, AI can analyze how each of your sales teams works. With the help of such sales automation solutions, you can actually see which sales rep performs better with which client demographic, how different teams perform, who is dragging the team down and so on.
Predictive customer service
We’ve covered the topic of predictive analytics several times already in our blog, where we’ve talked about how it can be used. One of the more exciting ways is keeping your customers happy at all times, by analyzing those left unhappy.
Understanding what little triggers and mistakes turned some of your potential clients away can tell you where your business lacks a certain impact. Not only can you fix these issues, you can also prevent customers from leaving you by reaching out through special offers, and additional customer support.
Coach your sales team
Using the information gathered by tracking your department’s performance, AI can empower your lead sales managers to coach the team. Salesforce CRM integrated with a machine learning solution can help plan road-maps for leads and deals, as well as assist you in determining the next steps.
In the nearest future, advanced AI will be able to listen to the phone call and analyze specific phrases or words used or changes in the tone of voice. Similarly to what companies do now, when recording conversations with customer support, only with AI, the whole process can be automated. This can have a dramatic effect on how you coach your team. Not to mention that you gain more insights into customer expectations.
How to Implement Salesforce AI in Your Business
There is no argument about whether artificial intelligence is going to be a part of business process automation. Even today, companies have already started to change their business model in order to make it more compatible with machine learning and big data analytics.
The real question is how broadly something like Salesforce Einstein will be employed and what steps your organization must take to fully leverage its power. It is not a simple matter, AI is still a new technology and the concept is somehow both strange and familiar at the same time. Nevertheless, even this early into AI adoption there are already several best practices and useful lessons.
Capture and feed more data
As we’ve previously mentioned, data is the new currency of business and it is the primary fuel for your machine learning platform. It is foolish to presume that simply integrating something like Salesforce Einstein with your IT infrastructure will suddenly give you some sacred truth that was hidden from you all along, until today.
AI needs to undergo a learning process, during which you’ll be feeding it vast arrays of data with no real short-term gain. First, AI learning algorithms have to figure out very simple telltale patterns. After validating the correct process automation, the machine can start testing these patterns against similar data it hasn’t yet processed, refining its learning process. And only after a couple of iterations the pattern-finding methodology can work on its own.
This is a painful process that requires a lot of time, financial, human and IT investments.
Make AI your new admin
A sales rep’s productivity is directly related to the time he or she spends on selling. Unfortunately, almost 30% of all time spent by sales reps goes to paperwork and administrative tasks. Some repetitive tasks such as activity logging, identifying high-priority emails, and creating new contacts are something that no sales person wants to do.
Luckily, this is one thing where sales lead management software really shines. Of course, you can simply automate these tasks, but why stop there? You can pass nearly entire admin work to artificial intelligence and boost your efficiency.
Start prospecting through AI
There are very few disappointments that can compare to chasing down a deal only to have it end nothing. And to make things worse, you then find out that you could never win this customer, simply because you’ve prospected him incorrectly. All this time and investments could be spent on something more promising, only if you could know in advance. Sales reps can, of course, identify good deals, but it’s a skill that comes with time. But why wait when CRM is able to do the job for you already, and also speed up the learning process?
Sales prospecting software with integrated Salesforce CRM can not just recognize a good deal but also make suggestions which products and special deals to offer your client, all based historic intelligence.
Making Sales Smarter With Machine Learning Cloud Services
Today, it is still difficult to believe that so many traditionally human activities can be outsourced to a machine. In the early days of cloud computing and SaaS technologies, there were many doubts regarding the security of data, scalability of the system and so on. Most commonly, those who look beyond today and make their bets smart tend to dominate the business landscape.
If you are ready to take the first step towards implementing a machine learning platform and integrating it with already existing IT assets, then you can always count on us at OMI (Outsource Management Inc.). We are first-class experts in CRM integration and implementation services. OMI is the go-to partner for emerging mid-size companies that embrace CRM, marketing automation and sales enablement platforms to grow and dominate their niche.