We all have heard the old adage – work smart, not hard. In today’s extremely competitive world, how does and hard? The answer is Artificial Intelligence or AI which enables an organization to work extremely smart and hard at the same time. AI is a fast and powerful machine with software that can learn on its own and “think” in multiple dimensions that allow startling possibilities in any field. This learning is based on enormous amounts of data which is continually enhanced over time thus making the AI smarter over time, much like a human being who learns from experience. Enhancing inbound data (customer information to the organization) and outbound data (product or service information to the customer) helps maximise the effectiveness of sale strategy. This is where AI fits into the overall Sales Strategy of an organization. It converts data into knowledge and insight, and no data is discarded due to ignorance or overload. The “what” of customer or marketplace is fortified with “why”, “why not”, “when” and this insight is a powerful aid to any sales team.
Here are 6 aspects in which AI shapes your organization’s Sales Strategy:
1. Target customer
Who is your most important customer currently and who is likely to be that customer next year? What do they buy and why? Seeking answers to such questions is easy to work for AI as it seeks patterns and cause-effect matrices for each customer & creates a powerful database of each customer’s preferences in time, quality, geography and price points. AI allows you to profile your current and potential customer extremely accurately – price point, buying times, required features and so on.
The same CRM Software needed in Berlin would need German language support and a version deployed in Bangalore would need English language support even though the same customer name shows up. An up and coming startup might not need all the modules available in the high-end version of your software but just the payrolls and bills receivables and payables.
No longer is an organization handicapped by limited ground troops – an AI sitting in one office can reach customers across the globe thanks to the internet. Each customer feels special because AI knows precisely what it wants. AI thus allows a non-linear scaling of any sales operation. A chatbot connected to this AI engine can carry out online support for many problems thus enhancing customer experience, and at the same time collect data to feed back into the AI engine.t
3. Arming Sales team with data
When making a personal call or meeting customer for a face to face discussion, the sales team can be loaded even at the last minute with the most current data about this customer – how many support calls were received in the previous year, what were the most common causes of trouble seen by customer, what upgrades are recommended, what licenses are due to expire. This fortifies the belief in the customer that he is really cared for by the organization.
4. Efficient leads
Growth of business needs new customers, or existing customers to buy more. Here AI steps in again to derive meaningful conclusions based on buying behaviors. It may even be a lead that an existing customer never buys a software until he has had a free trial. This gets an easy solution – offer the customer your Free CRM for a one-month trial, with a provision to upgrade to Business version with a license upgrade.
5. Customizing or tailoring
AI allows interrelationships among customers and relationships between customers and its vendors to be understood and harvested. Your customer may need certain modules or plug-ins in his CRM software and if his vendor also has corresponding modules, then interworking becomes seamless. Thus, understanding the matrix of customer relationships helps enhance sales. Another example can be to know when a sales call or meeting is likely to be more fruitful. A customer in Americas follows the Jan-Dec financial year and his budgets are allocated in Q1 of every calendar year whereas a customer in India follows the April-March financial year and his budgets are available in Q2 of calendar year. This easily allows for proper planning of the sales cycle.
Ask any salesperson what is his biggest challenge and his answer will most certainly be the forecast for the current year! How can the sales team know how much will be sold other than “past experience” and “gut feel”? AI with its powerful capabilities can crunch a multitude of factors including customers, competitors, macro-economic factors, exchange rates etc to make a sales forecast that is better than any intuitive guess and the AI engine learns over time so its forecasting capabilities only get better over time.
Salespeople might have some initial trepidation about losing their jobs to machines, but this is misplaced. Similar arguments were heard when computers made the transition from mainframes to personal computers but what happened instead was that the explosive growth of computers made everyone work smarter and then enabled the internet revolution that shrank distances and today everyone is one at same virtual distance away, whether in same city or a different continent.
A similar revolution in AI is happening right now and the company that is an early participant in this revolution gains the first mover advantage that allows it to set the trend in how the AI can be used innovatively. Instead of seeing AI as a competitor, salespeople need to see it as a powerful assistant that knows a lot about customer and the complex factors that drive a successful closure of a sale.
| About the Guest Author:
Apoorv Bhatnagar is a Digital marketer at Freshworks Inc. He generally writes about software that improve your marketing, sales or hiring process