AI for sales teams: Everything you need to know to get started

Sales can be time-intensive, even if you love closing deals. Many aspects of the process can feel mundane, especially the tedious, repetitive tasks that feel like one more obstacle standing between you and your next closed won. But, you also know that those tasks are—more often than not—important to making potential customers happy. You know you can’t skip them, but can you automate or simplify them?

Artificial intelligence has become more and more ingrained into the sales process over the last several years. Innovative sales teams are leaning on AI to improve sales and focus on money-making tasks. If you’re interested in artificial intelligence in sales, today’s post will walk through how sales teams are using it.

 

AI for sales: 7 ways sales AI can help your team

Artificial intelligence has become a powerful technology for sales teams. You may be wondering what the hype is all about, how other teams are using it and what it can do for your organization. Here’s a small sampling of how AI can strengthen your sales strategy and free your team to focus on what they do best: building relationships and closing deals.

 

1. Information gathering

Research is an essential part of the sales process. It’s step one, to be exact. Starting a conversation or a demo without doing some initial research on the accounts you’re targeting or the prospects you’re talking to sets sales teams up for failure. After all, your prospects need to know why your product or service would benefit them and meet their specific needs—and your team needs to be able to address that head on.

In a recent report from the Sales Enablement Collective, 38.5% of respondents noted competence in using data and analytics to tailor client interactions as a skills gap that sales needs to address.

AI helps organizations understand who their ideal customer really is. For example, at Rev, we help businesses see beyond firmographics to uncover what makes their best customers their best. Our Sales Development Platform uses AI to surface exegraphics—insights about how companies operate. With these exegraphic insights in hand, your team is set up for more productive (and profitable) conversations.

AI can process more information than humans can. Ultimately, AI can understand and process links that most people would never create. By using AI, you will be able to make sense of the massive amounts of data your organization gets daily.

 

2. Lead generation

Generating consistent leads can be a challenge for many sales teams. Some teams may rely too heavily on inbound marketing leads, prohibiting growth. Marketing works hard to create content and campaigns that generate leads, but some people need a personal touch to convert.

Unfortunately, outbound lead generation can be time consumptive. The personal touch that attracts new leads requires hours of research—and often it ends up being less research and more guesswork. What can a salesperson do to combat these issues? AI for lead generation has become a timesaver for busy salespeople.

Our Sales Development Platform uses the exegraphics from your best customers to create a prioritized target account list of other companies that fit your ICP, so your team always knows who they should reach out to next. 

 

3. Conversation automation

Communication is a necessary part of the sales process. If sales teams have a full plate of prospects, they could send out dozens or hundreds of emails daily. Sales conversations fall into a few categories:

  • Mass sends
  • One-on-one conversations

It can be challenging to automate one-on-one conversations like sales demos, but you can automate mass conversations. For example, sales teams send outbound pitches to gain interest in a product. These outbound pitches don’t need a heavy sales touch to be sent. Instead, you could easily rely on an AI tool to find the correct emails and send timely communication to prospects.

Companies like Conversica, Drift and Exceed help sales teams manage daily conversations.

 

4. Sales prediction

Sales prediction is an essential business function. Teams need to estimate what deals will close and when to ensure they have enough cash to run and grow the business.

Besides predictions for new business, companies also need to understand where there might be opportunities for cross-sells and upsells. Most importantly, sales teams need to catch potential downsells and cancellations. Revenue comes in all shapes and sizes, and we know customer retention plays a massive role in business success.

If you want to start with sales prediction, you can utilize tools like Futurli to get started.

 

5. CRM upkeep

Did you know that some companies have estimated that bad data costs U.S. companies over $3 trillion per year? Whether you’re considering the hours sales professionals spend fixing bad data or the deals lost because of lack of data, it’s easy to see why it’s costly.

One of your sales team’s most helpful resources is your CRM software. Customer relationship management software houses all your data about potential and current customers. Sales team members spend hours in your CRM updating information, taking notes and updating their SDR pipeline.

When information entered into the company CRM is wrong, it impacts sales. For example, something as simple as a wrong name can affect sales performance. Prospects won’t enjoy being called by the wrong name in a sales call or email. If sales teams happen to get into the sales process, having a bad name could result in needing to redo a contract, which could elongate the road to closed-won.

Fortunately, AI is adept at finding and updating information. For example, tools like Collective[i] and Seamless.ai can help salespeople verify and correct sales data in your CRM.

 

6. Calendar management

Sales revolves around meetings. From introductions to demos to contract negotiations, a full calendar means that sales professionals are doing their job. It’s important to note that sales professionals need focus time too. If sales are too focused on current deals, they aren’t prospecting and making connections for future deals. Sales professionals also need time to clean data, create contracts and take internal meetings.

With all of these responsibilities, it’s easy to see how a sales calendar can become a hot mess, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. There are great AI tools that help sales teams take back control over their calendars.

AI tools like Kronologic can help your team make sense of their calendar, giving them room for prospect conversations and all the other work tasks.

 

7. Lead scoring and prioritization

Last, but not least, AI can help sales teams deal with lead scoring and prioritization. With so many sales tasks, getting started can feel daunting. It’s easy to look at a list of leads or a sales calendar and feel overwhelmed. When companies take lead scoring seriously, sales professionals can focus on the most important leads first.

When you get a list from Rev, we prioritize the list so you can focus on the best potential customers first. 

 

Will AI replace sales?

When discussing AI, one question often arises: Will AI replace sales? The answer is simple, not completely.

There are some aspects of the sales process that AI can work on. Grueling tasks like calendar management and CRM upkeep are easy AI tasks that make sense. Often sales professionals dislike these tasks anyway, so getting help from artificial intelligence is no big deal.

In a more encroaching territory, sales AI can also handle conversations with prospects (to a degree.) You might not want AI having full-on conversations with potential customers, but AI bots can undoubtedly help you automate some frequently asked questions.

Ultimately, sales is a complicated process. Sales professionals have to navigate the gamut of human emotions, from prospects who are happy to see them to those who write nasty responses to their cold outreach campaigns. Artificial intelligence thrives on consistency, so there are some sales jobs that AI can’t do. Instead of considering AI a competitor, salespeople should consider it an ally. AI can tackle some of the repetitive tasks that sales professionals tend to neglect or discard.

 

Key takeaways: What you need to know about AI for sales

Whether sales is trying to gather information about potential customers or take back their calendar, there are artificial intelligence tools your sales team can use. Your sales team may be alarmed by stories that AI will replace them, but AI is just a compliment. Sales AI is there to help make selling easier, not replace the humans who do it.

Overall, it’s essential to gauge your sales team’s interest in AI. Artificial intelligence can have a learning curve, and you want to ensure that your team feels comfortable. Take things slowly. You don’t have to reinvent every aspect of your sales process overnight. Pick one area that could use some investment and help.

With the right time and attention, your sales team will be more efficient by using relevant AI tools. 

Interested in seeing how Rev’s AI-powered Sales Development Platform can help your team? Schedule a demo.