Is AI Your New Sales Assistant?

Will robots one day dominate the earth? This seems to be where every discussion about artificial intelligence (AI) ends up. But while that may be fun to speculate on, AI in our current business world is worthy of discussion too – especially if you’re in sales.

If you’re still trying to wrap your head around all your CRM capabilities, you might think AI sales tools are too advanced to worry about now – you can tackle them in the future. In fact, some sales leaders are already using AI to transform their organization’s revenue and sales performance. From the conversations, they have with prospects to the way they close deals to basic administrative tasks, these leaders are making their team faster and more efficient.

The first thing you need to know about AI in sales today is that it offers convenience. It can work for literally the most basic sales team by either enhancing simple workflows or driving stronger outcomes.

Let’s look at 4 areas where your AI can help your sales team right now.

Handling Scheduling and Calendar Management

Despite the many technologies at our disposal, until now we’ve had to deal with the tedious act of scheduling meetings, demos, lunches and calls ourselves. Not only does taking care of our calendars eat up valuable time, but trying to schedule meetings that work for all other relevant calendars can be a Herculean feat. These AI tools act as your own digital assistant, identifying who’s available when, setting up the meeting and settling scheduling conflicts.

Acting as Your Ghostwriter

AI-enabled CRM tools are already able to learn your writing patterns in emails using natural language processing. To what extent, you might ask? These tools can actually create responses for you based on what you probably would have written. Depending on the contacts writing you and the phrases they use, along with other data, this kind of AI can handle quick questions for you or even find the right documents to attach to the email. Probably you’ll still write complex or meaningful letters yourself, but AI can save you from dealing with the daily pile-up of simple questions in your inbox.

Identifying Your Valuable Leads

Consider this the next phase of our current predictive analytical tools. With features that make last year’s lead scoring algorithms look like covered wagons, these AI tools will quickly and expertly organize all the data surrounding the buyer’s journey and turn it into useful insights. Your team will know what’s worth pursuing and what isn’t worth your attention as this AI will have uncanny analysis on who’s most likely to buy.

Strengthening and Extending the Customer Relationship

You may feel your CRM already has this covered. Whenever your customer buys or subscribes or renews, your team probably does a fair amount of research to shape an effective approach. Are your insights as deep as they could be? Probably not, but you only have so many hours in the day. Luckily this kind of AI can efficiently mine online data and company information to build an accurate and meaningful look into customer needs. Even more importantly, it can organize this information into a digestible form, getting the team up to speed without effort or a serious investment of time.

Artificial intelligence might sound too complicated to bother with for a busy sales team. But by getting up to speed now on available capabilities, you can position your team to take advantage of the AI arriving in our future.

Are You Asking the Right Questions About AI?

If you still think artificial intelligence (AI) is something for your grandchildren to grapple with, prepare to be surprised: AI is going to have a drastic impact on our lives and our businesses over the next decade.

How drastic? According to McKinsey, artificial intelligence is contributing to a transformation of society happening “ten times faster and at 300 times the scale, or roughly 3,000 times the impact” of the Industrial Revolution. That puts an almost impossible demand on every organization to adapt wisely – and quickly.

Of course, we’re already surrounded by AI every day, although we may not think of those tools as such. Maybe you dictate your To Do list to Alexa each morning. Maybe that’s a driverless car next to you at the stoplight. And maybe – make that probably – your daily workflows and collaboration are powered by AI.

The reality is, these tools and technologies have blended into our lives so seamlessly that we don’t even think of them as being AI. But that doesn’t mean that AI’s integration into our business lives isn’t going to be disruptive.

In fact, for most organizations, it will mean transformation on an unprecedented scale. The way we hire, collaborate and achieve are already shifted and they’re going to change even more. And the way we deliver customer experiences? That’s going to blow wide open.

The time to forecast these changes and develop appropriate strategies is now. Other leaders might be waiting for the day a robot pours their morning coffee, but you can get the jump on the future now by asking these 4 questions:

How fast – and how severely – will AI change your industry?

Some experts are predicting that AI’s economic impact will hit somewhere between $14 trillion and $33 trillion by 2025. However, the where of those numbers is more in question. We know that the auto industry and retail have been disrupted by AI, while manufacturing is quickly becoming the next in line for a drastic overhaul. But while some leaders in other industries feel they’ll be passed by, it’s more likely that every industry will be impacted – and sooner than they think. In other words, everyone can benefit from planning for the AI revolution.

How will your strategy and operations change in the next 5 years?

Think of changing the way sales and marketing interact, the way we recruit new talent or the way we plan new initiatives or design job responsibilities. Now imagine all of them changing at the same time. Artificial intelligence will bring sweeping changes and not necessarily in a tidy or manageable order. Some experts believe AI technology will mature faster than most organizations will be able to adapt to their new world.

How will AI impact your workforce?

In an ideal world, AI would make our work lives easier and more productive; maybe even usher in an employment boom. But anyone who’s been paying attention has seen jobs lost to automation. It’s a safe bet that many employees will see their job roles change or vanish entirely. Forward-thinking leaders who care about recruiting top talent and sustaining a positive company culture will need to begin dialogues about training, development and fostering an agile workforce that can work productively with new AI capabilities.

How can we drive better customer experiences with AI?

Gartner believes that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed by AI.Does that make you nervous, relieved or both? Customers already expect immediate service and meaningful conversations; will AI really able to deliver on the second part? We’ve all had frustrating experiences with so-called “intelligent” applications that were the opposite of smart, relevant or efficient. That means leaders who care about creating excellent customer interactions will need to be ready to carefully manage AI customer tools. Those who find ways to partner personal relevance with AI capabilities will have a considerable advantage.

For Salesforce users, the march towards AI has begun. To find out more, you can visit the Salesforce Einstein page.