The facts are that artificial intelligence (AI) can perform a programmed task repeatedly, more quickly, often more effectively and more accurately, than a whole team of people. But, does this mean that AI is on its way to removing humans from the sales equation?
The answer is a resounding ‘no’. Sales remains an industry heavily reliant upon the human touch, but there are some great ways that AI can assist in enhancing the sales process and driving revenue.
AI IN SALES
AI is being cleverly put to work in parts of the sales industry – not with the intention of replacing humans, but in helping remove from the role of the salesperson those time consuming, mundane but essential sales activities.
There are now artificially intelligent platforms available which take over some of the more mundane sales tasks like completing requests for proposals and even creating policy documents. So where is artificial intelligence adding the most value to businesses?
Companies providing compliance integration are now using AI to help facilitate the selling process. In a heavily regulated sales environment compliance requirements can be a huge blocker when it comes to speed and freedom when trying to close a deal.
Take, for example, the highly regulated finance industry. Artificial intelligence is considered a game changer offering tools and other solutions to identify potential risks, like fraud.
Using AI, sales platforms are now offering great automation tools to help take the pressure off sales professionals. A time management study conducted in 2017 revealed that nearly two-thirds of a salesperson’s time is spent doing non-revenue generating activities – leaving only around 36 per cent of their time spent actually engaging in sales activity.
Automation is continually evolving – meaning salespeople can increase the amount of time they spend engaging in revenue-generating activity.
Predictive sales analytics use current technology trends and artificial intelligence to analyse massive data sets to forecast future market trends. Technology is rapidly improving and changing in this space – but it’s important to remember that the process is only as powerful as the data the technology has to work with.
AI AND TRAINING
It would be easy to ascertain that training is unnecessary when it comes to AI, as artificial intelligence is doing the hard work for you, right? But much of the success and failure of AI depends on the training provided to its users.
Whilst it is intelligent, it’s still just a computer program. The companies that will have the most success with AI will be those that give their employees the opportunity to spend time experimenting with it – allowing them to witness first-hand the opportunities and limitations it offers.
RISKS CONNECTED TO AI
Whilst AI can assist in risk management, there are privacy risks associated with the use of AI. Specifically, there are ongoing concerns around the misuse of personal data related to AI in sales.
ITU data shows that internet usage is growing by 1 billion people globally every 2.7 years. The sheer volume of usage makes it impossible to comprehend the volume of data available in cyberspace. Whilst the quality of data is far more important than the quantity, the volume means there’s a huge risk that data is being misused.
Who knows what the future holds when it comes to artificial intelligence? AI is still in its infancy, and until such time as it has the intelligence to replace human persuasion, charisma and the skill of listening, the sales profession, as a human-enabled industry, will remain strong.