While AI tools are a trending topic and have a vast potential to change business practices for the better—they can be overwhelming. Business tools are evolving overnight to incorporate bits of AI functionality wherever possible, and business leaders across every industry are fighting an endless wave of potential that makes it hard to pick a course of action, let alone stay on that course.
So, instead of discussing AI overall and all the different AI widgets developing across known business software and new solutions, this guide focuses exclusively on how sales leaders can prioritize and implement the right AI sales tools for their sales teams. Surveyed companies noted 50% more leads when they started incorporating AI tools throughout their sales process, and that concrete value-add is worth focusing on.
In this guide, we’ll examine the different types of AI sales tools that companies can take advantage of based on their core functions and capabilities. Then, we’ll discuss how you can prioritize implementation along one of these areas to realize the benefits as quickly as possible.
If you’re overwhelmed by choosing the right AI platforms from all the different big-name and new-name options, don’t worry—we also have a few best practices for protecting your organization as you experiment with cutting-edge technology.
Popular Types of AI-Powered Sales Tools That Are Transforming Businesses
Even when you narrow your focus to just AI sales tools, there are still multiple different avenues for incorporating AI. These tools can generate personalized emails, automatically generate forecasts and reports, and even coach salespeople on improving their messaging or sales tactics. Before company decision-makers start shopping around for AI tools to enhance their processes, they consider these different areas within sales responsibilities to see where new technology will make the biggest difference.
Lead Scoring and Prioritization Tools
Quickly responding to leads is a major business advantage. Responding to new leads immediately makes them 391% more likely to convert. If the response is simply an automated email, that’s easy enough for the right tech stack to manage. But if that response needs to be a call or other human connection, keeping up with a rapid influx of new leads will quickly become impossible.
Instead of fighting against the clock, sales teams can use AI-enabled tools to score leads based on their past activity, alignment with target markets, and other factors. Then, each salesperson has a queue based on priority rather than first in, first out organization.
Automated Personalization Tools for Sales and Marketing
71% of consumers expect personalization in sales and marketing communications. It’s now become a baseline expectation, not a perk that’s nice to have or a mild preference. Because of this developing trend, consumer-facing companies need to invest in AI tools that can go beyond personalizing emails by adding a name. Personalization can include tailoring content in a newsletter to fit a recipient’s past purchase behavior, engaging audiences with follow-up messages at times most likely to inspire interaction, and other changes.
Sales forecasting is essential for maturing organizations. Your teams need to be able to predict quarterly revenue, the behavior of both leads and existing clients, and the closed-won rates of individual salespeople. Without these valuable insights, your C-suite team won’t be able to make efficient plans for the year ahead, and sales managers won’t be able to effectively prioritize different sales goals.
While sales forecasting can be done manually or with conventional tools, only artificial intelligence can crunch through all the raw data available in today’s business systems—and you need to use as much data as possible to make your forecasts accurate. AI-powered sales forecasting tools need to integrate with your CRM or ERP for best results.
Enhancing Your CRM
You don’t have to completely reinvent your tech stack to get great results from AI—far from it. In fact, one of the best strategies for both adding AI capabilities and ensuring your salespeople can quickly become experts is to choose software add-ons and extensions that link into your existing CRM.
Think of additional functionalities that your CRM is currently lacking, such as automatically generated sales calls and client interaction summaries that become part of the client history, or AI-generated prioritization in each salesperson’s task list. Small changes that elevate existing work processes are easy to adopt, making them a low-friction way to introduce AI.
Sales Coaching and Training
Making your sales coaching more effective can increase your salespeople’s win rates by up to 29%, even if you make no other changes. But there are a lot of barriers and costs to improving traditional training and coaching options, such as limited time and availability, sales role-playing tools that quickly go out of date, and questions about how to objectively score sales performance in training scenarios.
Today’s AI tools can completely eliminate these problems and clear the way to faster, more engaging, and more profitable sales training. AI tools can:
- Interact with salespeople and play the role of customer in sales role-playing scenarios
- Generate thousands of scripts and training scenarios so reps get authentic practice that reflects real-world scenarios
- Fast feedback that is detailed, objective, and measurable
- Real-time sales coaching that provides meaningful advice
- Always be available so sales agents can learn and practice in micro-sessions whenever they’re available
How to Embrace AI Sales Tools and Make Them Part of Your Business Operations
All of these options sound promising for sales organizations that want to boost profitability, increase productivity, and stay competitive. Follow these three basic steps to incorporate new technology as effectively as possible.
1. Find Tools Built Specifically for Your Priority Operations
First, decide what areas of sales operations you want to prioritize first. Making sweeping changes across every aspect may be too overwhelming for your team, and it’s important to select exactly the right platform for different tasks. For example, the best tool for scoring and prioritizing leads may be able to integrate with your CRM, but it might not have coaching potential. Once you decide which area to prioritize, start researching AI software in that domain. Look for software that offers:
- Security. You don’t want to lose control of client and company data.
- Ease of use. The adoption rate and employee satisfaction with the tool will make a big difference in results.
- Clear benefits. The right features can help you measure impact and make plans for future changes
Once you find the right AI tools, consider the different use cases and applications.
2. Focus on Tools That Save Time
Whenever possible, opt for AI-powered tools that offer a wide range of benefits for everyone. One of the core benefits of AI is that it saves time for employees, increasing their productivity and reducing burnout, and it’s important to offer these benefits to everyone on the team. For example, AI-powered coaching and training tools save time for everyone:
- Salespeople can quickly practice sales tactics and skills in slow moments or based on their availability, without having to wait for other participants. They can also immediately put new skills into practice without waiting days or weeks for feedback.
- Training managers can save time because they don’t have to book one-on-one sessions for every training exercise. Instead, they can look at individual or aggregate results, set goals, and focus on more efficient learning and development processes.
- Sales managers can instantly see the progress and capabilities of their sales reps without having to follow up or wait for answers.
3. Measure, Measure, Measure
Once you implement software, start gauging its effectiveness and its ROI, especially in terms of sales revenue and productivity. Some of the metrics you can use include:
- Participation rates and participation times
- Effects on KPIs like closed-won deals, customer satisfaction, conversion times, and ROI
The more data you can collect on AI’s positive effects and where you still have areas for improvement, the more efficiently you can make changes to your processes, sales rep roles and responsibilities, and performance criteria.
Best Practices for Selecting and Incorporating AI Sales Tools
AI is incredibly transformative. But just like any powerful technology, there are important dos and don’ts that should guide your approach. Keep these best practices in mind as you add more and more AI tools to your toolkit.
Avoid Generic Tools That Require Extra Work
ChatGPT popularized the direct use of AI throughout the business world at the end of 2022. But it’s a generalized tool. It and others like it require a lot of prompt engineering and double-checking to avoid off-the-mark creations, hallucinations, and bad results.
Turning to free and generic tools that require expert handling can jeopardize your operations and make employees much less responsive to AI in the future.
Be Careful About What You Feed Into Unprotected Tools
The nature of AI is that it needs contact with your business data to perform key operations. It can’t ideate sales pitches, forecast sales performance in the next quarter, or coach your reps through the right messaging without consuming and analyzing all the information. At best, using the wrong tools means all your information will be incorporated into the software’s general awareness. At worst, your company’s data could be stolen, misused, and accessed by unauthorized parties.
Evaluate Where You Can Get the Most Valuable Results
As you start experimenting with AI, always look for areas where AI can provide the most value. As you start with AI-powered training, for example, you may focus on general cold calls and follow-ups. But this could very quickly progress to different messaging strategies for different target groups, experimenting with tactics for frequent customer complaints, and more innovative uses.
Start Building Your AI Toolkit By Integrating AI into Your Training and Enablement Processes
Sales leaders in every industry see the real potential of AI to reduce the time and money spent on repetitive tasks. But AI can go far deeper to provide new insights, new ways of doing business, and new solutions to old problems. At Quantified, we’ve developed an AI sales training and coaching tool that provides real-time feedback and coaching, so that your sales team can perfect their messaging, develop excellent sales habits, and always be refining their craft. Reach out today to see how Quantified can empower your sales reps so they become even more productive sellers.