Artificial Intelligence: Making Sales Smarter
There has been a lot of noise around artificial intelligence (AI) this past year, and how it’s being used in marketing and sales. True AI, as defined by Forrester, is the ability for a machine to think and act like a human. We aren’t there quite yet. But two significant AI building blocks – machine learning and predictive analytics – are technologies that we can put to use right now.
Predictive analytics extracts data from various sources and uses it to predict trends and buying patterns. Machine learning uses algorithms to learn and improve through automatic feedback. These two technologies work well together – the results from predictive analytics is fed into the machine learning algorithm, making the predictions continuously more accurate.
How AI-assisted technology benefits your sales process
- Sell smarter: You want your sales reps focused on the opportunities that are most likely to close. The streaming intent data from predictive analytics tells you which accounts in your target market are in an active buying cycle. No more casting a wide net and hoping for the best. Your reps will know exactly what their total addressable market looks like.
- Sell faster: Predictive analytics provides sales reps with insights into their total addressable market, based on keyword searches, content interaction, and previous activity. Sales reps have visibility into accounts with the highest propensity to buy, and can prioritize accordingly.
- Close more business: Because your sales reps are focused on the accounts that are most likely to buy, they’ll be able to move deals quickly through the sales cycle. MRP analyzed the sales results from its predictive-powered leads, and found that 197% are more likely to convert to opportunities, and the deals are 208% higher.
AI-assisted technology and the sales pipeline
According to the Forrester Wave™: Predictive Marketing Analytics For B2B Marketers, Q2 2017, clients who use predictive analytics are seeing, on average, a 27% increase in lead-to-opportunity conversion, 20% higher average deal sizes, and a 126% increase in pipeline.
Identify your total addressable market
- By analyzing your data and connecting it to external data sources, a predictive analytics solution can uncover your total addressable market. And that’s not all: predictive analytics can use that information to identify common attributes and create a profile of your ideal customer, opening up white space and ensuring your reps are going after the best prospects
Prioritize your accounts
- Your total addressable market has been identified – now you need to prioritize the accounts you’ll pursue. Predictive analytics will provide the constantly streaming data that gives you visibility into which accounts are in the active buying stage, and allows you to prioritize the accounts that are most likely to convert. Prioritization will also make your sales force more effective because they will be targeting prospects that are more likely to engage.
Upsell/Cross-Sell and Churn Analysis
- Prospecting into net new accounts is one thing. Selling to and keeping your current customers is something else altogether. Predictive analytics monitors the buying intent of your current customers and lets you know who to target next for new products. This always-on monitoring also makes it easier to identify “at risk” customers who may be researching a competitor’s solution.
- Are you using unscientific means to determine what deals will close within a given time frame? Are you applying probability scores based on what your reps are telling you? Predictive analytics uses historical performance and statistical methods to determine how likely a prospect is to buy, when an opportunity is likely to close, and how much that prospect is likely to spend. This will help you and your reps assess deals more realistically.
Improve Your Sales Strategy
- Predictive analytics informs the entire sales lifecycle, and helps you get better with every subsequent sale. The results from each sales cycle is fed back into the predictive platform, and the machine learning algorithm takes it from there. You’ll be able to see what worked, what didn’t, and what needs improvement. Your strategy gets smarter with every sales cycle.
The goal for any sales team is to spend more time selling and less time trying to find the next prospect. AI-assisted technologies such as predictive analytics and machine learning will give your sales reps the insights they need to identify total addressable market, prioritize the accounts most likely to buy, and ultimately close more deals, faster.