Sales 3.0 – How AI & Automation Impact The Future Of Sales

September 26, 2017 11:31:15 AM | By Matt Benati

How AI Automation Impacts The Future of Sales

Last week I attended the Sales 3.0 Conference in Las Vegas where over the course of two jam-packed days, we were treated to dynamic presentations from some of the brightest minds in the industry on everything from team building to technology. At the end of the day, the people, processes, and technology introduced all shared the same objective: helping sales teams achieve peak performance.

For details on many of the conference presentations and information, check out Alice Heiman’s What You Missed At Sales 3.0 In 35 Tweets or Danny Heinsohn’s Sales 3.0 Blog.

For me, the presentations on Artificial Intelligence (AI) really caught my attention. I like thinking about how innovations in data collection, data management, and data literacy will strengthen the capabilities of sales and marketing teams. Let’s face it, the amount of data we’re collecting today has reached a level that makes it almost impossible to mine without the help of AI and automation.

As CEO of 6Sense, Amanda Kahlow writes for Inside Big Data, “Over 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last year alone. Somewhere in this enormous swell of data are important time-sensitive digital signals that can tell you what your prospective customers want and need and which ones are likely to buy and when.… It’s about identifying, aggregating and processing the right blend of data to predict actions, prescribe activities and use the results to vastly improve marketing results over time – from ROI to revenue.”

That’s a tall order. But we’re already seeing the technology that’s making it happen, and the driving force behind every solution is Artificial Intelligence.

AI And Cognitive Learning

In her Sales 3.0 presentation, Judy Buchholz, General Manager of IBM Digital Sales for IBM Corporation, explored how sales and marketing teams use cognitive computing to draw intelligent insights from data. She defines cognitive computing as the “interactive decision-making and reasoning over deep domain models and evidence-based explanations, using Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning tools.” Because cognitive computing simulates human thought processes, a key component is Artificial Intelligence, the “range of techniques including natural language processing, knowledge, reasoning and planning, for advanced tasks” as Judy defines it.

Sales technology solutions that utilize cognitive computing and AI “augment human intelligence, allowing faster and more informed decisions.” Data becomes far more meaningful to sales teams, and they are able to quickly develop and execute highly-targeted sales strategies that garner real results.

The Future of AI and Sales

In his Sales 3.0 presentation, Johann Wrede, Global VP Strategic Marketing for SAP Hybris, discussed how, given the waning human attention span, AI is the only solution for managing the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created. Gartner concurs, estimating that by 2018, more than 50% of large organizations will compete using advanced analytics and proprietary algorithms.

What does this mean for sales teams?

  • Data is analyzed quicker and leveraged more effectively
  • Mundane tasks are minimized so more time is available for selling
  • The customer experience is customized through highly tailored pitches

Johann had a great slide in his presentation that talked about this concept of using AI to create meaning from “dark data” and improve the customer experience:

The Future of Sales: Mining Dark Data

This mining of “dark data” is where I start to get really excited about the future of AI and sales. There’s more data to analyze than hours available in the day to do so. AI tools allow sales teams to mine that data for meaning, and apply the intelligence gained to their sales processes. This added knowledge doesn’t just benefit sales — it benefits the end user as well. Prospects will enjoy more personalization, customized pitches, and solutions that truly fit their needs. And these highly-targeted sales strategies will result in more revenue and renewals.

Applying AI To Reply Email Mining

LeadGnome’s email mining service uses advanced AI to mine reply emails for Account Based Intelligence (ABI). When marketing teams send email campaigns, they inevitably receive replies, both manual human replies and auto-responses such as Out Of Office and Left The Company. Naturally, the larger the database, the more replies will be generated. With frequent mailings, keeping up with these replies in a timely manner can be a challenge.

However, savvy marketers know that these email replies shouldn’t be ignored because they contain valuable sales intelligence that can be used to grow pipeline, accelerate sales velocity, enrich and cleanse your database, and identify actionable sales trigger events.

Below is an example of a Left The Company auto-response with the ABI highlighted that can be learned. While it’s obvious that this information should be used to update the organization’s database, this email also represents a valuable trigger event. When a lead leaves a company, sales has an opportunity to 1) be the first in with the new lead (and win the deal 5x more often), and 2) follow the movement of all of the involved parties (and turn a Left The Company in FOUR potential sales opportunities. Learn how here).

Left The Company Sample Email

Benefits Of Automatically Mining Reply Emails

Automatically mining reply emails for data is a small change that nets big results. With no major changes to your marketing automation platform (MAP), a reply email mining service like LeadGnome runs seamlessly in the background, syncs with your MAP or CRM, and delivers a continuous flow of actionable data that you can leverage for big results:

  • Marketing delivers more relevant leads to sales to grow pipeline
  • Alternate contacts uncovered to increase renewals, upsell and cross-sell opportunities
  • Sales trigger events deliver competitive advantages months before your competition
  • Automatic and continual database enrichment and cleansing

Data continues being created at a faster and faster pace, so it’s vital for organizations to figure out how to process, manage, and leverage it to their advantage. Artificial Intelligence uses computers to quickly make sense of data that would take humans countless hours to process, while automation seamlessly applies the data to business processes in meaningful ways. The result is that sales representatives spend less time crunching data and more time doing what they do best: closing deals.

LeadGnome uses AI to support the alignment of sales and marketing teams by mining intelligence that it would take human resources hours, days or even weeks to uncover. To see more examples of the most common email replies and the intelligence that can be mined from them, check out our free eBook: Transformative B2B Demand Generation.

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