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Artificial intelligence (AI) is a term that strikes fear into the hearts of many a salesperson. The concern over this advanced technology is whether or not AI has the ability to take over your job. Or at least make most human components of the sales process as we know it obsolete.

What most people don’t realize is that AI is one of the most powerful and underutilized sales tools available today. In fact, Gartner, a renowned research firm, estimates that only 5-10% of businesses are taking advantage of this insanely beneficial technology.

If you’re still skeptical of AI, the good news is that your nightmare scenario will never happen – artificial intelligence, regardless of its IQ, will never be an effective substitute for real relationship building.

There is, however, a lot to be gained from adding artificial intelligence to your sales strategy. As such, companies that plan on leveraging the benefits of AI will need to take a step back and make a few adjustments to the way that they manage sales performance on a daily basis.

Greater Data Focus

The cornerstone of any effective AI program is data. AI can take the guesswork out of sales, but only if the CRM program you use for data storage and collection has achieved a high adoption rate within your department.

AI will impact the sales function by requiring sales teams to pay greater attention to the data they’re collecting. Not just any data will do – you’ll need high volume and high quality to take full advantage of these programs. Focusing on the quality and quantity of your data is helpful for artificial intelligence programs because it helps their insights to be as accurate as humanly (or robot-ly) possible.

We recently discussed the types of data that often get overlooked when updating your records. For example, tracking how quickly a client moves from one stage of the sales funnel to another isn’t something that most sales reps track, but they really should. The benefits of including details like this include some impressive feats, like visual stage duration reporting, which is the kind of advantage only top-notch, data-focused CRMs can provide.

Actionable Recommendations

AI is best known for its ability to provide predictive analytics. The main purpose of predictive analytics is to provide sales models based on historical information that anticipate, with significant probability, the outcome of many given scenarios faced by your sales team.

The next generation of sales intelligence is called prescriptive insights. Prescriptive sales insights prescribe the exact actions that a sales team can take to achieve a desired outcome. Whether you’re behind on your quarterly goals or unclear on how to best use the talents of your sales team, AI can provide you with an actionable recommendation as to what levers to pull to achieve a particular goal.

Knowing that the path to 10% greater contract value is faster time to outreach, or that the way to achieve $20k more revenue this quarter is to provide reps with more training around a certain vertical, saves a lot of time and energy from manually digging into sales metrics and running what-if scenarios. These insightful recommendations provide sales teams with the power to make inherently smarter, repeatable and scalable sales decisions.

Enhanced Productivity

Another way that AI can impact salespeople’s jobs is by enabling them to shift focus from number crunching and important yet time consuming tasks to building relationships and closing deals. For example, technology like machine learning and natural language processing powers email sentiment analysis, which scans reps’ emails for negative keywords and then alerts them of deals in potential danger.

Your AI can also help save you time and better prioritize your to do list with lead scoring. It does so by taking a comprehensive look at your sales history and scoring leads based on criteria found in common between your won and lost deals. This criteria can include industry, company size, content downloads, website visits and much, much more.

This kind of data analysis can also provide win rate prediction for better quality forecasting so you can pinpoint which clients to focus on. With the help of AI, you’ll be able to track your expected number of sales compared to your actual progress as well as your total pipeline worth in seconds.

Fear Not

Contrary to popular belief, when used in these three ways, artificial intelligence has the potential to make sales reps better at their jobs – not take their jobs. To learn more about how AI is improving sales, download this free resource: Beyond Predictive Analytics: Why the Future of AI in Sales Is Prescriptive.