Why AI is your ally not your adversary in sales

Samantha Caine

Blog post by Samantha Caine

Samantha Caine, is the Client Services Director at Business Linked Teams and has over 20 years experience working as a strategic training and recruitment expert for a variety of international businesses. She works with organisations to develop interactive, training solutions and oversees the implementation of global sales and leadership programmes that are aligned with leading edge thinking from across the world


11th August 2019

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is having an influence in your life whether you’re aware of it or not. AI powered algorithms decide which music or shows to recommend on your favourite streaming platforms. When you order something on Amazon, AI decides which other products to recommend based on your purchase. Those online ads that seem to magically promote products or services you’ve been thinking about? That’s AI choosing which ads to show you based on your browsing activity.

Yet when it comes to our working lives, we’re often presented with headlines that tell us AI is something to fear. It’s often framed as a technology that will eventually take our jobs away from us, but the truth is, AI is here to help us become better at our jobs.

There are various applications in sales where AI can add real value:

1.  Taking over menial tasks

Monotonous tasks prevent us from getting on with the more important aspects of our jobs and can sap the enjoyment from our working lives. In sales, the monotony can range from trawling through long lists of leads to gathering data on your prospects and creating weekly reports. These repetitive and time consuming tasks can be removed from salespeople’s workloads with AI, allowing them to get on with doing what they do best – selling.

2.  Feeling out deals worth chasing

All too easily you can waste too much of your time working towards a deal you believe will deliver, only to find yourself at a dead end with nothing to show for your efforts. AI can eliminate this frustrating process, effectively feeling out the deals worth chasing. Salespeople can train the AI to recognise a good deal and can even predict the products or services the prospect will be interested in based on previous sales data.

3.  Improving forecast accuracy

Predicting your team’s sales numbers for each quarter is one of the most daunting challenges of your job. Getting it wrong can result in your team falling short of the expectations you’ve set, so forecasting accurately is key. AI algorithms are now supporting sales managers by accurately predicting where your team’s sales will fall, making it achievable for your team to successfully meet the forecast you’ve presented.

4.  Recommending upselling and cross-selling opportunities

Selling isn’t all about sizing up prospects and getting a foot in the door. There are always upselling and cross-selling opportunities within your existing client base, but these can be easy to miss. AI can quickly identify clients that are likely to be open to upgrading the current product or service you’re supplying. Not only does this create more revenue opportunities – it also means a reduction in marketing costs.

5.  Calculating the right rates

It can be difficult to work out how much discount you need to offer to win a deal. Offer too much discount and you’re losing money the client would’ve been willing to spend. But if you don’t offer enough, the deal might fall through. AI can analyse specifics of past deals such as the size of the deal, how many competitors you’re up against, the clients’ revenues and more, to recommend the most suitable discount that you should apply to each deal.

It can be difficult to adjust to working with new technologies in the workplace. Sometimes skillsets and behaviours need to be developed to ensure people are getting the best value from working with the technology implemented. A blended training strategy that incorporates elements of both online based self-study and face to face training sessions will support the development of any new skills or behaviours required. With the right training strategy and the right technology investment, AI can be a transformative force for your sales team.