From better forecasting to dynamic risk analysis, artificial intelligence (AI) now plays a key role in modern enterprise sales.
As it turns out, science fiction vastly miscalculated the role AI would play in everyday life. Instead of creating an army of lifelike robots who are one bad day away from a Terminator-style uprising, AI has proven its value in many real-world applications that are transforming industries, and enterprise sales operations are no exception.
AI eliminates much of the guesswork and manual data analysis that historically went hand-in-hand with enterprise sales while preventing revenue leakage at scale. Teams that incorporate AI into their day-to-day operations will find themselves at a significant advantage.
Here are just a few ways AI is changing the game.
1. Actionable Guided Selling
Guided selling is a critical part of the modern sales process. In a nutshell, guided selling helps consumers find the products or services that best suit their needs, increasing sales and conversions for the business. Brands often implement software on their websites and apps that can make intelligent recommendations and lead buyers through the process from start to finish.
These days, there’s a lot of technology involved in guided selling. AI helps by automating the process based on behavioral trends and uncovering effective next steps while providing full-funnel visibility for managers and other members of the revenue operations organization. The most effective guided selling tools constantly measure past performance and iterate based on hard data to provide the optimal path to success. The more accurate the data, the more effective sales reps can be.
One thing I’ve repeatedly heard from analysts is that many platforms don’t surface the insights they need to determine an issue’s urgency and the state of the pipeline. This leads to delayed or lost deals — in other words, to revenue leakage. When searching for a guided selling solution, you’ll want one that provides contextual alerts and actionable insights. This cuts down on the guesswork and blind hypothesizing, instead allowing everyone in an organization to use this data to optimize the sales process.
2. Dynamic Sales Risk Analysis
There are a lot of things that might put a deal at risk. Maybe your contact has become unresponsive, the value of the arrangement has changed or economic factors are affecting your industry. Analyzing and mitigating risk is all part of the enterprise sales process, so, naturally, access to comprehensive risk data is a must. Considering that bad, inaccurate or redundant data is one of the leading challenges for data-driven businesses, the value of a dynamic system that keeps records updated in real time becomes apparent.
A dynamic platform that analyzes factors impacting your sales forecast doesn’t just allow for more accurate revenue estimates and resource allocation; it also unearths actionable insights that let you address potential issues before they become unfixable. AI shines a beacon on deals at risk, helping sales teams understand the reasons they’re faltering — the first step in getting them back on track.
3. Better Forecasting
Risk assessment is a critical part of any sales forecast, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Forecasts also take into account individual and team sales targets and performance, campaign progress, customer relationships and other data that helps sales teams get a comprehensive picture of the current situation and how to succeed in it.
Many factors can affect sales forecasts, and some may be entirely out of your control. Stakeholder turnover, seasonal demands, changes in product lines — it’s a lot to keep track of, especially if you don’t have access to the right tools. That’s where AI comes in: AI and machine learning platforms can ensure that information about consumer behavior, purchase history and even communications between sales reps and consumers are all up to date and considered when it comes time to make financial projections that enterprise sales teams can leverage immediately.
4. Improved Lead Qualification
Any sales leader will tell you that not everyone is going to be receptive to whatever you’re selling. It’s essential to home in on those most likely to make a purchase and follow up on those prospects to work more efficiently without wasting time or resources. Like most aspects of the sales funnel, lead qualification relies on data: contact information, customer profiles, sales call results, budget requirements and so on.
So what role does AI play in lead qualification? For a real-world example, look no further than this case study from the tech giants at Microsoft. In this case, customers who sign up for product trials, communicate via email or download content become leads. Microsoft implemented AI lead scoring focused on customer behavior to assign values to every interaction potential consumers have with the company, resulting in better conversion rates, increased revenue, improved customer experience and other benefits.
5. Increased Sales
Ultimately, all of the processes in the sales funnel I’ve discussed throughout this article are in service of one thing: more closed deals. By arming sales teams with the right tools, technology and data, enterprise sales ops can ultimately follow through on more qualified leads, sidestep risks and hit their targets without wasting time or resources that could be better spent elsewhere.
So how are enterprise sales operations supposed to prepare for the AI revolution? There will be internal and external challenges, but ultimately, the benefits justify the initial buy-in. The right platform can multiply ROI several times over, automate processes that slow down your sales team and make better use of your data. It won’t be long before AI technology becomes an intuitive part of the workflow by saving time and improving sales.
It’s clear that AI is changing how sales teams think about every part of the process, from the first communication to the final product. Without it, you won’t be able to compete with other enterprise operations in the modern sales landscape. Don’t wait any longer to get complete visibility into the sales funnel and use that data appropriately.
Original post: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2022/03/03/five-ways-artificial-intelligence-is-reshaping-enterprise-sales-operations/?sh=7e38aff56c06&s=09