Is AI the new rocket fuel powering sales relationship-building, personalisation, training and onboarding? It’s certainly looking that way.
The arrival of ChatGPT shook the business world, bringing the revolutionary potential of AI into sharp and immediate focus. Like it or loathe it, the truth is that AI has been slowly permeating the sales and marketing functions for several years now. Yes, chances are you’re already using artificial intelligence or machine learning somewhere in your CRM or enablement platform.
When harnessed correctly, AI has the potential to deepen buyer engagement by capturing content insights, streamlining the selling process, and helping sales leaders coach and improve their teams. So, it’s no surprise that almost all (94%) of UK sales and marketing leaders expect to increase their use of AI to augment existing processes by 2024. But this tool should also be approached with caution. An unchecked AI implementation free-for-all in your sales function risks jeopardising the customer and prospect trust you’ve spent years building.
Supercharging sales relationships
Success in sales relies on your ability to forge relationships, build trust, and deliver personalised interactions. But, contrary to what you might think, embracing AI in sales doesn’t run counter to human-to-human interactions. Instead, tools like AI-assisted transcription, sentiment analysis, and conversation takeaways are designed to enhance them!
For example, generative AI can take notes from past sales meetings and remind sellers of them the next time they speak to that prospect. So, they’ll never forget to ask about their promotion, new hire, birthday, family event, etc. This is a surefire way to ensure prospects know you’re listening to them. It also eliminates the need for notetaking, which allows sellers to devote complete attention to the prospect.
In addition to providing these useful relationship-building hints, AI-based tools can help reps survive and thrive in the digital jungle – across both email and social media. Each of these channels poses unique challenges. With email, it’s about efficiency in personalisation. Sales reps often have to send very similar emails to multiple prospects or customers. Rather than committing to this repetitive process, AI enables sellers to leverage templated prompts to generate recommended personalisations they can review and approve before sending.
On social media, reps sometimes struggle to produce eye-catching, insightful content. As such, their posts may lack deep enough consideration or analysis. With the help of AI, businesses can now suggest curated posts that include personalised commentary. And the results can be impressive. Seismic’s recent report, The Personalisation Payoff, found that posts including such commentary outperformed posts without it by 54 percent on average.
Prospects want to feel like their individual situation and needs are understood. In fact, buyers now expect to see personalised content across all touchpoints and digital channels – social media, email, digital sales rooms and more. The same report found that higher levels of content personalisation correlate to increased buyer engagement for brands. As a result, brands have increased their use of assets like personalised video to the tune of 255 percent. Indeed, McKinsey reported that personalisation can boost revenue by as much as 40 percent.
AI can play a vital supporting role in delivering this personalisation, helping sellers make tailored suggestions based on a prospect’s situation and the flow of the conversation. For example, AI can automatically capture meeting action items and make intelligent persona-based content recommendations to spark sales-ready conversations and accelerate deal conversion.
But what about the process of personalising content resources? Unsurprisingly, AI can help here too, by curating and distributing personalised content based on existing templates – sales decks, RFPs, how-to guides, market insights, you name it. With the right tool, sales teams can create content by selecting deal factors relevant to their intended audience. AI can then instantaneously recommend scripts, slides, case studies, data, disclaimers, and even check pricing. Not only does this save sales and marketing teams vast amounts of time, but it also ensures they remain 100 percent on-brand and compliant.
Your personal AI sales coach
Your customers and prospects won’t be the only ones to benefit from the introduction of AI to the sales function. AI also has the potential to revolutionise the world of sales training and equip salespeople with skills for life.
The static, hours-long sales training broadcast may soon be confined to the past. Its replacement? An intelligent platform that provides just-in-time training and continuous on-the-job coaching. For example, businesses can implement large language models to enable sellers to quickly aggregate peer-to-peer coaching and access recommended answers to customer questions. With a personalised approach, an AI-assisted skills development platform can also use data to highlight individual dos and don’ts.
The benefit here is helping sellers perfect what to say, show and do at the point of need. With AI-driven personalisation, businesses can slash onboarding times for new sales reps. Meanwhile, existing reps can benefit from continuous and iterative upskilling, enhancing efficiency and retention.
AI in sales has bags of potential, but caution is still needed
The benefits of AI in sales are clear. There’s significant potential for it to expedite processes, boost productivity, and drive results for sales teams. However, it’s vital to develop a firm strategy that formalises your organisation’s approach to AI and addresses trust and data privacy concerns. Generative AI isn’t something employees should have free reign with – as this unfortunate sales email demonstrates. A clear-cut playbook for sales teams is vital, as is thorough training.
Also, AI tools are only one part of the go-to-market equation. A mature GTM approach hinges on ensuring content management and automation, buyer engagement, training, strategy and more remain in sync. The best GTM operations link these components in a single platform that unites the end-to-end buyer journey.
There’s no arguing that the arrival of advanced AI has the power to change the game for sales. When integrated into a unified platform and approached as part of a considered strategy, AI helps sales teams work smarter, not harder – enhancing efficiency, enabling meaningful buyer engagements, and ultimately closing more deals.
The advancement of technology is accelerating. Generative AI will continue to develop, and finding a way to integrate it into the sales process will be vital to keep up with, and thrive in, this new era.
Winnie Palmer is the EMEA Head of Marketing at Seismic, the global leader in sales enablement. An innovator and strategic marketer known for achieving business results, Winnie has led and transformed GTM functions across a number of the industry’s most prominent technology brands. Previously, she held global and regional leadership positions at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei and Nokia, driving digitalisation and scaling business growth. She is an angel investor in tech startups, and is on the Board of London Tech Advocates Women in Tech.