Artificial Intelligence…the new opportunity for B2B Sales Growth

Artificial Intelligence (AI) came out again in 2016 rearing its head after decades of  development and perhaps backstage importance and popularity.

This is unsurprising, giving the huge emphasis on data and analytics and its necessity for business growth and competitive advantage. Is AI now here to stay? I here you ask.

Well, I could give you some clues so we can work this out together.

Let’s take a look at 4 clues I’ve come up with based on my research and in consultation with clients:

Clue 1: It’s found its way into sales – the heart and survival of every business (Read Revenue)

AI solutions for business is being directed at making salespeople more productive and effective at every level of the sales workflow. This is a true case of AI vendors making a smart move to target the business buyer who has a direct remit to drive revenue and business growth – essentially not just the sales organisation, but the whole executive team. Alan Lepofsky, an analyst at Constellation Research, who is working on the impact of AI on work says vendors certainly recognize this link.

Clue 2: Acute Alignment with a challenge in B2B sales world

The trend of the Evolution of Buyer and implications for sales has been documented enough in Gartner and Forrester’s research (among others) and in real life scenarios. Complex B2B sales cycles are stalling between the 75-95% mark due to a number of reasons.  While I don’t want to bore you with the stats and various stories, the fundamental issue is that the buyer has enough information to start and work with in a sales scenario on their own. The power has shifted in favour of the buyer. To keep up, the evolved buyer now needs an equally (if not more) evolved salesperson toevolution-of-the-buyer make a differentiated decision to buy. AI totally recognises the data overload on both sides of the equation and has stepped in with a machine processing power to help humans make sense of the ever-increasing pile of data.

Is AI going to successfully help remove part of this challenge by successfully filtering the data and automating tasks to give sales a better headway?

Let’s assume ‘yes’ for now, acknowledging the huge inroads by the start-up vendor community such as Conversica or Tact. Established names like Oracle, Base and Salesforce are certainly worthy of mention too on the CRM front.

The next part of the challenge which still remains a huge risk, and threatens the extinction of the traditional sales organisation as we know it, is evolving salespeople to effectively match the buyer and deliver the revenue results by effectively complementing AI with their new sales skills.

Clue 3: Pushing for businesses to fill a sales skill gap

As AI aligns with business at one of its most challenging skills gaps; equipping the ordinary B2B salesperson with tools that make every buyer data and interaction more fine-tuned, it promises more operational efficiency and ultimately revenue growth.

The question is, can sales now truly spend more time working with buyers on to close more deals?

Do they have the skills to address the nebulous human aspects of the sales cycle and bring more deals to a untitled-design-6successful close?

One does wonder whether businesses  and their sales organisations are ready to embrace the exponential growth that AI brings to the table.

What about the innate and acquired skills needed to dive a bit deeper into the needs and wants of the buyer; identifying each buyer as unique and finding the magic link to prevent deals to stalling around 95%?

The Association of Professional Sales states in its September 2016 article that we are in the grip of a global shortage of salespeople with the right professional expertise. Professor Neil Rackham, the patron of the association, points to the trend of increasingly complex sales, which require a shift away from the old skills of persuasion towards consultation, collaboration and innovation.

To fully benefit from AI and its promise of increased sales revenue, businesses need innovative sales enablers to fully equip salespeople and business leaders while bridging this skills gap.

Clue 4: Ambitious forward thinking businesses stand a great competitive advantage

As with most innovative growth strategies, B2B organisations who are ready to take calculated risks, innovate and become early adopters are the ones who stand to gain the most competitive advantage.

Adopting AI  for exponential growth requires innovative forward thinking strategies that combine technology effectively with human-centered execution.

To explode sales revenue, businesses must now complement AI effectively with a fit-for-purpose sales team.

Actionable advice:

  1. Evaluate the state of your sales force today in alignment with your growth and sales strategy.
  2. Identify where the individual and collective skills gaps are to evolve the your salespeople to correctly match your evolved buyer role(s).
  3. Map out an innovative plan that plugs these skills gaps over a 3-6 month period while keeping an eye on delivery of existing sales forecast numbers.

Do you know how to measure this plan’s success? This 4-Step Blueprint download, could be a good pointer.

So, what do we think? Is AI here to stay and are you ready to explode your sales revenue?

 

Maggie Sarfo

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Ref: TechCrunch

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