Is AI in B2B Sales Ready to Take Off?
Since the early 2000s, companies have been waiting for the perfect artificial intelligence. It’s been promised so long but delivered in such halting and piecemeal steps that it can feel like a pie-in-the-sky proposition. But today’s optimal sales solutions — a fusion of savvy human operators and AI-based platforms that can instantly generate strategic insights from gigabytes of data — are already making their way across enterprise-level B2B organizations. SMBs that want to be on the cutting edge also reach new heights by giving salespeople AI support tools. AI in B2B sales isn’t ready to take off. It already has in the background behind personalized account-based marketing ads, well-developed sales professionals, and sales video calls that get straight to the point to make the right offer. If your organization is on the fence about taking the plunge, that can limit your performance as your competitors race ahead, according to McKinsey research:
A McKinsey global survey of 2,500 B2B companies across industries found that those willing to shake up their sales models and embrace next-generation capabilities are growing revenue at twice the rate of GDP.
Keep reading to see what today’s B2B sales tools can do to support salespeople, streamline sales cycles, and lead to more predictable business growth.
What Can AI in B2B Sales Do?
Artificial intelligence has broad data analysis capabilities, allowing it to support salespeople in virtually every aspect of marketing and sales. Some of the core capabilities to consider are:
One of the most significant use cases for artificial intelligence in today’s B2B landscape is marketing. Simply, people can’t manage account-based marketing and increasingly personalized approaches alone. That’s why businesses are adding AI-enabled ad creation tools, marketing campaign platforms, and robust marketing analytics integrations into their tech stack. As enterprise-level companies keep refining their messaging to speak directly to key decision-makers in a target organization at the right time and with the proper outreach, everyone else needs to adopt the same practices or be left behind. Some of the specific tasks AI can optimize include:
- Automating lead scoring processes
- Timing interactions to reduce sales cycles.
- Understanding the context of interactions to determine prospects’ purpose, goals, and concerns and better translate intent indicators.
- Untangling B2B sales relationships, primarily when multiple stakeholders are involved so salespeople can address the right messages to the right actors.
Account Management Background Work
Salespeople need to provide more comprehensive, customer-centric services, taking on the role of part-account manager and part-salesperson. This is one of the most effective approaches to overcoming mistrust. While this is true for sales environments overall, the long procurement process and the long-term relationships demanded in B2B sales make it even more critical. However, managing all the touchpoints, interactions, client org chart details, and SWOT analyses that AMs traditionally can overwhelm a busy salesperson with manual processes. AI-based AM tools can work silently in the background, alert salespeople about the best time to start a conversation, when something needs their attention, and what their priorities should be for the day, week, or quarter.
No business can ignore the importance of data in today’s sales environment, and organizational leaders who operate in the dark are doomed to fail. Sales managers need constant insight into their teams’ progress on big deals, accounts that may get lost, and transactions that will bleed over into the next quarter. VPs and sales directors need an even more holistic, guided overview to make strategic calls.
Again, manually managing all of this monitoring and analytics is quickly becoming impossible because of the data companies can collect and the data they must compose. AI and machine learning-based tools can look at the raw data and present essential trends and insights leaders at all levels of an organization need to act effectively.
Related: Ultimate Guide to Sales Acceleration Platforms
Quarterly and Annual Goal Predictions
Everyone within a sales organization has a quarterly goal they need to meet. Entry-level salespeople and business development representatives have sales call quotas. Regional sales managers have revenue goals for new business and business retention. C-suite executives must keep the organization on target to cover spending, reassure stakeholders, and plan growth initiatives for the year ahead.
While traditional tools and even smart spreadsheets from five years ago can show fundamental trends and allow leaders to estimate their likelihood of meeting goals, B2B AI can give far more accurate predictions. After all, trend lines based on performance in the first half of a quarter won’t fully translate to the second half of the quarter, especially if it’s Q4 with lots of travel and delays. A savvy salesperson might make the adjustments in their head because they have experience. Still, only AI can consider human factors, past years’ performance, competitor performance, and hundreds or even thousands of other factors to present truly accurate predictions.
For companies that need to realize a return on their tech stack investments as concretely as possible, this is one of the most significant and immediate benefits of AI in B2B sales. According to an analysis of McKinsey data written by Forbes Technology Council member Selva Pandian, “According to the research and insights, which McKinsey defines as data-driven decision making, adds a 2 to 5% boost in sales. Agility, which includes scaling sales and reprioritizing accounts, can lead to a 5 to 10% boost.” Simply following the data to rearrange your sales priorities without changing your actual sales processes and training initiatives can reap steep rewards.
Where AI in B2B sales shines the most is in B2B sales training. Any sales training manager knows that the training process is rough, with repetitive training sequences, countless small variations in prospect responses, and lots of time spent getting a sales rep from being a source of spending to a source of revenue. After all, salespeople in training aren’t making money, and experienced salespeople training them, answering questions, or saving a deal from slipping away are earning less for the company. Take a closer look at how AI in B2B sales can revolutionize B2B sales training in these key aspects:
AI can read increasingly granular clues to provide deep insight and tell B2B salespeople the most tactical move in any given interaction. It does this by:
- Analyzing voice sentiment in audio, video, and text-based messages so salespeople can make the appropriate response
- Knowing what phrases and negotiation points have had the most success in similar interactions across similar prospects
- Differentiating between genuine buyer intent signals and time-wasting signals
With an AI tool integrated into their CRM or as an open tab on their workstation, salespeople can operate more efficiently, with fewer missteps, delays, or lost deals. This also ramps up training, as new and new-to-you salespeople quickly learn your company’s unique selling processes and typical client base. Even novice salespeople can move with confidence and promptly graduate from training sequences to cold leads to hot leads.
Automatic Feedback and Standardized Scores
Successful sales processes must be in a constant state of refinement. Even the most powerful tactics and workflows must adapt to changing buyer behaviors through frequent, incremental changes. AI takes growth-driven design principles — making and testing small changes without jeopardizing the core processes — and makes them even more powerful. It can read signals from a small, virtually unnoticeable buyer and a salesperson’s behavior and offer feedback to close gaps and improve interactions. This means salespeople are constantly strengthening their performances, whether ramping up as new sales professionals or an expert who aligns their techniques to match modern B2B buyers.
Not only is this flow of information continuous, but it’s also objective and data-backed. Toxic workplaces, high turnover, and plain old human subjectivity are hazards in any training situation or performance review. But when AI constantly analyzes workflows and performance, trainers and trainees (and managers and salespeople) know where they’ve made progress and where they can still grow. Even better, that information is available for quarterly reviews or at the end of every week, even once interaction has ended and the employee is ready to reflect.
Related: Tips for More Effective Sales Training in 2022
Advantages of AI-Based B2B Sales Over Traditional Methods
Artificial intelligence can completely transform your processes, but those more abstract and large-scale changes take time to implement. Some of the most immediately valuable aspects of AI in B2B sales is its ability to do what sales teams already do but better. Because it can handle large amounts of data, far more than humans can do alone or with traditional software, that difference quickly ramps up into a difference in kind, not just a difference in scale. Some of the most evident impacts of making the switch are:
- Hybrid, Remote, and Flexible Work Options: Salespeople no longer have to be in the office to access knowledge resources, get feedback, or complete training. In a world where more and more employees demand hybrid work arrangements, facilitating that transformation grants you access to the top end of the talent pool.
- Independence Without Quality Control Issues: The big problem many companies see with remote work is a lack of cohesion and quality control; it can seem like people simply fall off the map. But AI-based CRMs and sales environments give employees at every level the access they need to see opportunities, activity, and progress toward their goals. AI-based training tools can also help salespeople at all experience levels take the initiative and grow their skills through training, assessments, and real-time prompts.
- Data and Objective Assessments: AI doesn’t just read data; it actively pursues and collects more based on your company’s needs.
- Efficiency: Ultimately, AI in B2B sales powers shorter sales cycles by giving salespeople the insights they need to deliver the correct answers, prioritize the right leads, and manage more complex marketing and sales processes.
What Will AI in B2B Sales Do for Your Company?
If you’re ready to see those higher revenue and sales numbers, fill your tech stack with solutions built around AI in B2B sales. At Quantified, we enable salespeople with instant, objective feedback on all of their sales interactions so they can practice the proper techniques, get prompts during sales interactions, and benefit from a personalized growth plan that will help them see real progress with lessons as short as five minutes. Talk to us today to see how we can put salespeople in charge of their success so they can meet sales and career development goals.