The idea of AI taking over the majority of jobs currently performed by humans seems the stuff of science fiction. There are simply some jobs that a computer can’t do as well as a human, right?
The rise of chatbots and other AI functionality in the sales world turned that wisdom sideways. Technology is imitating human interaction—and learning from it. This idea has many salespeople and marketers wondering, “Are we the next to go?”
The current data, including a McKinsey & Company report finding that only 5 percent of jobs are completely automated, suggests that the answer is no. However, the same McKinsey report found that three-fifths of jobs could see 30 percent or more of their tasks automated. So, the discussion moves from if AI will replace jobs to how AI will supplement those jobs.
For Sales and Marketing, AI already is improving training, closing more deals, and creating happier customers. It’s making us better reps, and the potential of where it can take us is unlimited.
Data, Data, Everywhere
The fitness watch craze provides an apt comparison to the potential AI holds for businesses. That device on your wrist monitors everything your body does, from heart rate to steps taken to hours of sleep, and then returns customized recommendations and analysis based on the data it’s gathered.
The watch is not only reaching conclusions but also learning from the data to better shape future interaction, thus taking you on a journey toward better health. Its suggestions aren’t based on a prefabricated plan programmed into its memory, but rather, on everything, it’s observed in real time.
This type of AI is finding its way into all sorts of consumer products. The next step is taking the experiences of all sorts of consumers and using AI to better predict their behavior so that corporate environments can use the resulting data to their advantage.
An Eavesdropping AI
The technology is young, but AI is giving companies a new way of optimizing sales calls. Basically, AI listens in on the conversation and alerts the rep when it recognizes patterns and tendencies during the call. For example, the technology can tell the rep that it’s hearing objections from the other end of the line and offer suggestions on what to tell the prospect and where to steer the call in order to overcome those objections.
That functionality is just the start of what AI can achieve in sales. As the technology listens in on more and more calls, it becomes stronger at identifying cues, both good and bad and from the rep and the prospect, during conversations. This accumulated knowledge can help salespeople better prepare for calls and, ideally, gain an edge to close more deals.
Collecting the phone calls is easy, and the data from each call not only feeds into the AI but also can be input into a CRM for even more analysis.
The human dynamic will never be replaced in the sales process; AI supplements that dynamic by offering timely intelligence when it’s critical. Instead of being force-fed a rigid path by AI, sales reps and teams are able to draw upon superior information and choose what they deem as the best course of action.
AI in any sales-focused business environment offers another tangential benefit to reps: They develop faster. The technology guides newer reps with best practices and a deeper understanding of their customers that might otherwise take years to develop on their own. In a few months, salespeople can learn everything they need to know about their chosen space. Besides benefiting the rep, companies become more efficient by having better salespeople and not requiring as much time for new reps to get up to speed.
Moreover, consumers gain an advantage with AI, both during the sales process and on support calls, by not being subjected to all the basic interactions and by getting directly to the person or solution they need.
Getting buy-in from reps might be a challenge—the idea that a computer is listening, assessing, and reacting to every call can be a little unnerving. Some education may be necessary to encourage employees to engage and embrace AI. The biggest selling point with reps is that technology can make them better salespeople and get them closer to their goals. AI in a sales and marketing environment might be shiny and new, but wanting an improved bottom line definitely is not!