How AI Is Disrupting Sales w/Damian O’Farrill @Autodesk
Learn about the future of AI in sales from artificial intelligence practitioner Damian O’Farrill in this episode of Sales Secrets.
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In this article:
- About My Guest—Damian O’Farrill of Autodesk
- Utilizing Sales Artificial Intelligence
- The Future of AI: Will It Replace Sales Reps?
- How You Can Use AI for Sales
- Why Your Organization Needs a Data Scientist
- Where Do Data Scientists Belong in the Organization?
- How Is AI Affecting the Sales Process in a Positive Way?
- Why You Should Utilize Data Science and Data Strategy
The Future of AI in Sales and How It Is Disrupting Sales
About My Guest—Damian O’Farrill of Autodesk
Damian O’Farrill is the Manager of Data Science and Data Strategy in Autodesk. Their company creates software for industries like manufacturing, architecture, and building and construction.
Autodesk’s vision ties in with the future of AI. They aim to use artificial intelligence in each of their processes, and to help their clients utilize AI for their industry.
O’Farill manages a group of data scientists that focuses on everything sales-related. Their goal is to optimize sales processes from forecasting to pipeline.
They also want to help their sales reps improve their activities and outreach. O’Farill’s team aims to give them insights on the accounts they handle and help them establish correlations within their industry.
All in all, they want to provide their reps with more information to help them sell more and better.
Data Science Definition: Data science is a mix of different tools, machine learning principles, and algorithms. Its goal is to find patterns hidden in raw data.
Data Scientist Definition: A data scientist is someone who analyzes and interprets data from the raw database level. The insights they derive aid businesses when it comes to decision-making. They are a specialist skilled in technology, math, and business.
Utilizing Sales Artificial Intelligence
AI, and the future of AI, are buzzwords. People talk about them a lot, but the great thing about Autodesk is that they’re actually doing something with it.
To grasp these ideas better, we asked O’Farill how AI fits into their organization. He told us that what they work on in the data science industry has more to do with advanced analytics rather than AIs powering computers to think by themselves.
They are basically merging sales and AI by coming up with sales enablement solutions powered by AI.
One example that O’Farill gave us is how an AI machine can get relevant information that will enable sales reps to gain more success in client interaction. This is one of the benefits of AI that can eventually turn into reality.
The Future of AI: Will It Replace Sales Reps?
Autodesk is looking for ways to enable their sales reps to do their jobs more effectively with the help of AI. However, some people are more skeptical.
We sometimes hear people ask if the time will come when artificial intelligence will completely eliminate sales reps in the equation.
We asked O’Farill about this, and he said that the purpose of using AI in sales is to enhance human intelligence, not replace it. He revealed that he doesn’t believe computers will replace humans anytime soon.
He stressed that the sales reps’ role is important because of the human interaction factor. O’Farill admitted that they will not be able to replicate that with a machine.
That is one of the limitations of artificial intelligence — while it can provide better data for better decision-making, it cannot replace humans.
The more complex side of sales will still need human interaction, so it’s something that we may not expect from the future of AI anytime soon.
How You Can Use AI for Sales
Now the next question is, how can organizations use AI for sales? As O’Farill told us, implementing AI in the organization takes time and effort, even with support from the executives.
The difficult part is the steep learning curve organizations need to go through once they hire a data scientist or use a machine learning tool for their business.
We discussed AI and sales earlier — how AI can complement what the sales reps are doing but not completely replace it. O’Farill says organizations already need to start implementing AI this way.
If not, the sales team will suffer as the promising future of AI can put them behind on the technology in a few years.
You don’t necessarily need to have a dedicated team of data Scientists to start using AI for sales. O’Farill advised organizations to start with baby steps, such as trying an AI technology that will enhance sales reps’ capabilities.
He suggested that organizations try a technology that can tell sales reps which next steps they need to take so they can maximize their activities, leads, and accounts.
Enabling the sales reps to interact with the system will help them grasp the potential of this technology. Beyond admiring artificial intelligence, sales teams should also know how they can use it to their advantage, which will only happen when they start using it.
As O’Farill emphasized, organizations can start by taking small steps.
You don’t need to go full-fledged into AI immediately by getting a machine learning tool or hiring a data scientist. You can start with a solution that can provide you the intelligence behind it.
For big organizations with no in-house data scientists, though, O’Farill suggested hiring one so they can process and use data better.
Machine Learning Definition: Machine learning refers to the scientific study of statistical models and algorithms that computers use to do a task without the use of explicit instructions. It is also a subset of artificial intelligence.
RELATED: How Artificial Intelligence Is Disrupting Sales
Why Your Organization Needs a Data Scientist
There’s no denying that having a data scientist in the organization can intimidate some people. O’Farill told us it’s very important for companies to have a dedicated data scientist because of the amount of data they generate.
For that data to become useful, companies need someone to analyze and interpret it for them.
For instance, if you want to know why some sales reps can establish more connections in a day compared to others, look at your data. You can begin to correlate different factors that will help you understand how the best-performing reps work.
In turn, you can teach other sales reps what the best reps are doing so they, too, can excel. The solution could lie on the reps’ content and messaging. With the help of a data scientist, you can pinpoint which keywords are effective in generating responses from clients.
This is only one of the benefits of having a dedicated data scientist. They can help you figure out correlations and use those to improve your business.
Where Do Data Scientists Belong in the Organization?
A lot of organizations focus on process, technology, or sales enablement. In all these, where do data and analytics belong?
This depends on the structure of your organization. O’Farill’s team, in particular, is under the operations branch, although he admits that the operational side can get very process-oriented.
Data scientists contextualize a lot of data, and they also build products. Some organizations may find that the same structure works for them, wherein data and analytics are under operations. After all, you can’t be an expert in the process without the data.
How Is AI Affecting the Sales Process in a Positive Way?
To help us further understand how AI enhances sales and to get a glimpse of the future of AI in sales, we asked O’Farill about the positive effects he observed.
This is what he told us—you can use AI to influence the top 10 accounts you have.
With machine learning algorithms and data scientists, you can determine an account’s propensity to buy. You can also predict when they are more likely to sign a contract by figuring out the correlation between the age of your deals and your sales cycle.
O’Farill is also looking forward to conducting a study on who provides a better forecast between a human being and a computer, then test it.
He shared with us that direction-wise, they have good ideas on where machine learning can influence the sale. Although as of now, they are still in the “test and wait” stage.
As O’Farill said, data science, in its core, is still science. That’s why they come up with hypotheses, then test and confirm them.
He admitted that most of the time, hypotheses fail. That is why a lot of hard work entails using AI to enhance sales and making the future of AI happen.
Why You Should Utilize Data Science and Data Strategy
As a parting question, we asked O’Farill what advice he can give to those who are just starting with AI and data strategies.
He admitted that there is still a lot in the data community that we need to learn. The bright side is, we are now able to leverage the previous research conducted in data for practical purposes.
It is good to remember that the overall goal is to consolidate data, and then figure out how you can help sales reps improve their performance through that information. Ultimately, this will drive more revenue for your business.
If you want to learn more from Damian O’Farrill about AI in sales and the future of AI, you can send him a message on LinkedIn. You can also visit the Autodesk website to learn more about what they do.
Gaining knowledge on the future of AI in sales can help you maximize the benefits of AI to improve your business. You can start with something as simple as trying a technology that will enhance your sales reps’ capabilities.
From there, you can explore further and eventually grow your knowledge and expertise in artificial intelligence.
How do you want to use artificial intelligence to improve your business? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
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- Xant Team