Experiencing Artificial Intelligence in B2B Sales
Artificial Intelligence has been portrayed by some as an abstract concept coming out of a scary and distant future. HoweverAI has been here for some time and and influences our lives in many ways. Measuring the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence in B2B sales is easier than ever, and is something that can be done in as little as two weeks.
B2B Sales Problems That Artificial Intelligence Can Solve
If we think about B2B sales, it’s a very complex environment. The competition is fierce, technology is more rapid, and profit margins have shrunk. There’s three main problems that are keeping sales leaders awake at night, and this is just the short list:
- Sales leaders don’t know when they are leaving money on the table. They need to hit quota, and they don’t know when they have passed up a really good opportunity.
- They also don’t know if they are chasing the right accounts and opportunities. What if they deploy all their resources and their lieutenants on the wrong accounts? What would have happened if they put the resources elsewhere?
- Finally, how do they make frontline sales representatives more productive? Our research shows that sales reps spend less than 40% of their time actually selling. This is why finding tools, technologies, and changing processes to make the reps more productive will immediately translate to more revenue.
B2B sales organizations has no choice but to leverage AI as a way to optimize resources and initiatives.
Research shows us that only 60 percent of sales reps are reaching quota, so at this point they have nothing to lose.
What’s Holding Us Back From Implementing AI In B2B Sales?
We mentioned how AI is being used on a large scale in B2C businesses – while B2B is lagging behind in this perspective. Studies have found that only 36 percent of consumers have actually experienced AI in the workplace.
The truth is that B2B sales, especially with enterprise organizations, have traditionally lacked the systems and infrastructure to be confident enough that their data is complete and clean enough to take advantage of AI.
Moreover, B2B sales has always been about building and maintaining customer relationships face to face – and AI has been secondary to that. Business development reps (BDRs) cold call, set in person appointments for an account executive, and relationships are established or further developed. Mature industries such as chemicals, construction, and manufacturing in particular continue to hold onto the old-school way “sales is done”.
Things are slowly starting to change.
Sales leaders are becoming aware that Artificial Intelligence can help them build more business. It can tap into their data and find hidden gems that will unlock new potential for revenue.
A Simple 3-Step Process to Deploy AI In Your Business
However, sales organizations need to have the personnel structure, the data, the technology, and the initiative to fully gain the benefits of AI. They can’t just flip the switch and hope to see revenue lift. There’s a lot that goes into ensuring that AI’s potential is maximized , but I’ve simplified this into a three-step process for the sake of brevity.
- First, it’s important to make sure everyone in your organization is committed to supporting the AI system. Sometimes sales leaders might own their numbers, but they do not own the technology behind optimizing their system – and that can be a show-stopper. IT leaders need to realize AI’s potential in the B2B space.
- Step two is to make sure that sales reps are actually doing AI-recommended actions. Without understanding why it’s important to use a certain system, sales reps might just ignore it and do sales the way they have always done – with a pen and paper, or even with their old-school sales dialer.
- Step three is to make sure the system and the AI-driven scores are being monitored to ensure success. Sales leaders need to tap into AI data and make adjustments so that targets don’t slip.
How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Realize Human Potential
I’m aware that Artificial Intelligence has had a bit of a bad reputation. It’s been portrayed as an existential threat to human kind. Research shows the major concerns about AI are about job security.
I believe AI is going to create more jobs in a knowledge economy versus reduce them. It’s going to make the sales process more efficient.
At the same time, we will need more people to analyze and interpret the results and make smart decisions from the snippets of wisdom that it throws at us.
In the knowledge economy, sales people who cannot embrace AI insights to more effectively close business will consistently underperform versus their peers.
Artificial Intelligence Deployment Gone Wrong
AI can’t be just a buzzword. It’s a bad idea to deploy a technology just because it has a ‘cool’ factor to it. “Oh, everybody’s doing AI, we need to do this too.” That’s the quickest way to a disaster.
If we don’t have a well thought-out business case and scenario to optimize and improve sales results, Artificial Intelligence deployment can fail.
There are cases where sales organizations fear AI implementation, thinking that their data is too dirty to use.
My advice is this: don’t be afraid to the advantage of AI – even if your data is not pristine. There’s this idea that you always have to keep data clean, and a lot of people are obsessed with it. But the truth is, even if your data is only 50-70 percent clean – the results of AI predictive sales scores are directionally accurate and provide value to your business.
It still provides insights that make a difference towards your bottom line.
The third type of situation where AI implementation can go wrong is – not being sure what’s important to business growth and revenue. So many sales organizations deploy incentive plans around metrics that are not important and don’t actually increase revenue.
Sales leaders need to make sure that your decisions are based on data and always challenge the outputs from an AI model and work with the implementers – most often data scientists – to refine the inputs and make sure the model is as unbiased and affected as possible.
You Think AI Is Coming 100 Years From Now? How About In Two Weeks?
I mentioned that AI is here already influencing our lives, and it’s here to stay. It’s not something that will happen in some distant future. B2B leaders can experience Artificial Intelligence in their business with a two-week process that starts with deploying the XANT NeuralScan. It’s is the easiest way to measure the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence in B2B sales for your organization.
The NeuralScan is basically three-step process that shows you real AI results in less than two weeks:
- During a NeuralScan, XANT’s machine learning engine Neuralytics directly connects to a business CRM. We collect relevant data about sales activity, about buyers, sellers, the sales process and its results – what is success and what is failure.
- We then train a machine learning model specifically to your data and present a read out document to show you the potential impact the model deployment could have on your sales process.
- The resulting charts show the associated revenue impact, if you were to use AI in your business.
Running your CRM data through a NeuralScan leads to actionable insights such as:
- Identifying the accounts or leads most likely to purchase from you
- Focus on the X% (AI recommended set) of the accounts or leads for improved success
- What are the most important attributes that determine the top X%.
These are just examples, the core of the process is that it allows you to see projections of revenue lift after using AI. We do this by using just a subset of data with your sales metrics.
The Impact of AI on Business Growth
It basically gets AI into your hands to see what it can do for your business.
A NeuralScan enriches your CRM data with over 15 years of cross-company data that we’ve collected with crowdsourcing. You can filter the information to look at business unit data or region, and look at just a segment of your business.
It’s a good way to alleviate concerns about how ready is an organization to embrace an AI solution. In just two weeks, you can get a true representation of what AI can do for your business.
AI not something out of Sci-FI – it’s is already here, and it’s producing results by increasing sales revenue up to 30 percent for businesses. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how, or visit bit.ly/neuralscan.
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- Xant Team