We’ve all heard about the promise that artificial intelligence (AI) holds to support any number of daily tasks in work and life. Although often unnoticed, it has entered our websites, our homes—and now, our customer relationship management (CRM) tools. Salesforce, Microsoft, Oracle and Base have all announced AI-assisted CRM, either soon to be introduced, in beta, or already launched. New sales enablement platforms are sprouting up rapidly, all with AI at the center of their enhanced functionality.
AI acts like a second brain, crunching data, delivering rich insight and reducing manual processes. Like the human brain, AI is “smart”—in others words, it learns as it goes along, so it gets consistently better at the tasks you need done.
Here are some of the ways that AI-assisted CRM has the potential to fuel sales operations and boost revenues:
1. Identify sales that are losing steam
There isn’t a salesperson who doesn’t know the sales mantra with the catchy acronym ABC—“Always be closing.” But what if you knew in advance those sales that would close and those that were likely to fall by the wayside? “Deal velocity and deal management are a critical determinant of sales success,” says Peter Ostrow, research director at market researcher SiriusDecisions. “You want to focus on those deals that have the greatest potential to be won. And you don’t want to keep pursuing a deal that won’t come to fruition.”
Salesforce’s Einstein platform has a feature called Opportunity Insights that analyzes inbound emails and other customer interactions, unearthing the hottest leads and recommending the best actions to land them. Using predictive analytics, Einstein can also pinpoint those deals that are “tire kickers”—prospects that may have seemed engaged initially but are headed nowhere.
2. Spend more time selling
One of the biggest struggles salespeople have with CRM systems is the challenge to organize and track the massive amount of information they generate—every week, hours of time are spent on inputting. According to Introhive, an automated CRM technology provider, CRM users spend, on average, 5.5 hours a week updating contact records and logging activities, such as phone calls, emails and meetings. A separate study by CSO Insights noted that salespeople spend just 39% of their time selling, with the rest of their week consumed with other tasks.
Intelligent CRMs for sales teams eliminate many of the manual tasks by grabbing all the information from emails, calendars and social media accounts. Salespeople don’t have to spend a second re-entering data or organizing it. The AI tools also create an automatic to-do list of customers to follow up with. Some platforms, such as Salesflare, discover which of your colleagues already has an existing relationship with your customer, as well as the extent of that relationship. This enables salespeople to tap into those they know and enlist them to open up doors, facilitate meetings or close deals.
3. Automate marketing to generate better reviews
CRM systems can help you devise effective marketing campaigns; however, managing and following through with campaigns can be time-consuming for sales, especially because smaller businesses may have just one or two people on their team. Enter Mia, an AI bot from tech company Signpost. Mia constantly scans data on millions of customers. She figures out which email or text message would appeal to each prospect, as well as the ideal time of day (or night) to send the message.
Mia does one extra task that can bring unexpected windfalls. She reaches out to customers and asks if they’d recommend your business. If so, she sends reminders to leave five-star reviews on the most important review sites. This can mean a big jump in business—a high number of stellar reviews can help to improve rankings within local search results, says Michael Juba, director of content marketing at EZMarketing, a marketing solutions agency in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. How effective is Mia? Signpost claims that Mia’s prompting may add two stars to a five-star review, which could translate into a 10% increase in business.
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