In a recent report titled ‘AI Guided Selling’1, Gartner found that the COVID-19 epidemic has caught many Sales teams off guard. Revised forecasts are 50% off from previous baseline forecasts. Many Sales leaders are now looking to modernize internal and external processes to improve conversions and accuracy in forecasts. Dr. Cindy Gordon has covered the report in more detail in this article – Gartner underlines the need to deploy AI guided selling capabilities to maximize every deal2.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) guided selling is the application of Machine Learning (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) methods to analyze sales conversations and historical data, to make predictions and recommendations that would help salespersons and sales leaders. As we noted in a previous blog post, 15 ways AI can help your Salespersons and Sales leaders, AI can help at each stage of the sales lifecycle, through the Lead, MQL, SQL, Deal, and even after successfully closing a deal (to upsell). But, when looking to adopt AI in your sales process, you should be aware that not all projects to adopt AI are successful3. AI projects in Sales primarily fail for the following reasons:
- Grand ambitions at the start
- Poor communication
- Lack of data
Step 1 – Start with simple objectives What do you wish to achieve by using AI – Is it to improve lead conversion? To improve the deal win rate? To close deals faster? Or is it to coach sales reps to do better discovery or closing? Keep in mind that unless the sales reps benefit from it, adoption will be low for any new sales technology. So, one of the primary objectives should be to empower sales reps. AI can help sales reps in many facets, from prioritizing leads to identifying actions to be performed on a deal, or alerting them of idle deals, or suggesting content to include when replying to an email, and more.
Step 2 – Communicate to all the stakeholders AI guided selling might be received with skepticism by your sales team. We noticed it in our own sales team as well. Salespersons have two primary concerns.
- Accuracy of predictions: AI gets better with more data. So, there are bound to be instances where the predictions and recommendations are not accurate in the early phases. Set expectations accordingly.
- Fear that AI might limit their role: On the contrary, AI enhances their success by being a smart assistant for them. Inform your sales team on what you are looking to achieve by implementing AI guided selling and how it will help them and the organization.
Step 3 – Find a tool that lets you start with the data you have AI-driven applications require data to train the prediction models. It is not just names and the deal size of won and lost deals, but also touchpoints on the deals, the related org and contacts, and other similar attributes. Usually, this data might not be available if you are starting afresh. Tools like Vtiger Calculus can help you get started with limited data and get you going on Day 1 with features that do not require historical data. For example, your team can benefit from features such as Best time to Contact, Call analysis, and Coaching dashboard, Coaching scorecards out of the box.
Step 4 – Gather feedback via weekly reviews for the first 90 days. Gather feedback from the Salespersons and Sales leaders on which features are and are not helping them meet their goals. AI engines use different algorithmic models on the data to make predictions. These models might need some tweaking to ensure that the predictions and recommendations are accurate. A weekly review will help catch deviations as early as possible and improve the accuracy of predictions.
By following the above suggestions, you can put your Sales team on the right track to gain from the benefits provided by Artificial Intelligence and improve sales.
Try Vtiger Calculus – It is time to put AI in the hands of your sales teams. AI-based forecasts, Deal scoring, Deal recommendations, Email assistant, Call analysis, & Coaching features are all part of Vtiger Calculus. Vtiger Calculus is an add-on available for Vtiger Sales & Vtiger One editions (Professional & Enterprise tiers).
———————————————————————————————————————– Ref: 1 AI Guided Selling by Gartner 2 Dr.Cindy Gordon’s article in It World, Canada 3 Why 85 of the Artificial Intelligence Projects Fail