Technologies utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) have grown significantly in recent years, inspiring more businesses to embrace automation. According to a report by Gartner, more than one-third (37%) of businesses had implemented AI in some form in 2019. Two years later, PwC found that number had more than doubled, with 86% reporting that AI would be “mainstream technology” by the end of 2021. PwC’s survey also revealed that more than half of enterprises (52%) accelerated their AI deployment following COVID-19.
AI gives organizations an invaluable tool and an essential differentiator, especially for salespeople and marketers as they strive to boost quality lead volume, conversions and revenue. It’s become so integral that our research found that 50% of global sales professionals would actually quit their job if these high-tech tools were taken away.
But how exactly does AI technology lend a hand in achieving these sales goals? The answer is in three core AI capabilities that are changing the game for B2B sales organizations: automation, data analytics and natural language processing.
Empower sales teams to focus on higher-value work
Automation is synonymous with artificial intelligence, but they are not the same. Think of AI as the brain, while automation is the body that automatically completes specific objectives. Businesses can deploy the technology throughout their sales processes to empower employees to do more, not less. Automation allows employees to focus on higher-value goals instead of wasting time on manual and highly monotonous, error-prone tasks that take a significant amount of time to complete.
Right now, people are ready to quit at the drop of a hat – according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September. Organizations need every advantage available to attract and retain the best sales talent. By automating away the mundane parts of salesmanship – for example, following up with targets that have yet to respond by a predetermined time frame – sales teams can move on to more productive and thought-provoking tasks. This will increase the likelihood that they will remain engaged in their work. In turn, employees will complete objectives more smoothly and, most importantly, be more likely to remain with their current organization.
Use data analytics to make a lasting impact
Data has become a crucial part of every business. They must not only collect it but have the right tools to understand and use that information – and ultimately act on it. Enterprises must take this path to propel their business forward and become data-driven entities that are based on accurate insights.
Sales professionals are in an especially good place to benefit here. With the technology to view raw data sets and draw conclusions from the information they contain, they can stay ahead of the curve and get a leg up on leads before it’s too late. Many businesses don’t follow up on leads promptly. Our research shows that more than two-thirds (67%) of marketing leaders want sales to follow up on leads within five hours. However, it usually takes salespeople up to a full day to respond. With the right data, they’ll be better able to prioritize who to respond to and why – and when paired with AI, they can let the technology do some of the heavy lifting for them. AI can also reveal new patterns and correlations in the data that would otherwise be inaccessible through human cognition.
Deploy NLP to convert more leads
Typed and texted communications are important, but there is nothing like the power of voice. It’s how we primarily communicate, allowing for more freedom, flexibility and nuance in what’s being said. While cadence, tone and meaning may be lost on a page, those things can be conveyed loud and clear with just a few spoken words.
Natural Language Processing (NLP) bridges the gap between how we talk to each other and how we communicate with technology. Designed to optimize interactions between man and machine, NLP has cropped up in a whole host of devices and software solutions. As the backbone of speech recognition, NLP is highly advanced and continues to evolve.
Sales teams can use NLP to their advantage as well, improving search engine results, personalizing conversations and boosting customer accessibility. The end result is a more intuitive and seamless sales experience, which is exactly what’s needed to convert more leads.
Turn to AI for a better sales strategy
Automation, data analytics and NLP are critical technologies that have come out of AI, and they are becoming instrumental components of any sound sales strategy. According to Gartner, AI may deliver $2.9 trillion in business value this year alone. With such enormous potential, sales and marketing leaders can’t afford to let the power of AI slip through their fingers.
Monica Sullivan is the Chief Marketing Officer of DemandScience.