Do your sales people have what it takes to be successful in educating, engaging with, and selling to your customers? Ensuring that each sales person has the right information and content at their fingertips to help them to improve the likelihood of closing a sale is critical to sales ops, sales enablement, and sales team managers. Over the last 20 years, since the inception of the digital revolution through the laptop, finding ways to help the busy sales person to get this content ready to go has become even more important.
According to an Accenture study, 94% of B2B buyers conduct online research at some point in the buying process, and are more educated than ever before. To move forward a sale, today’s digital-ready sales person needs to be prepared, trained, and ready to present that unique, extra valuable information that the prospect hasn’t just picked up online.
Achieving this for a single sales person is tricky enough, but imagine having to do this when you have hundreds or even thousands of sales people engaged daily in these interactions. That kind of streamlined engagement takes considerable resources. Sales enablement teams have been hired, trained, equipped with the best tools, and whilst they are doing a great job of helping the salesperson to build a relationship with the customer through content and messaging, consistently keeping this process up to date can be a losing battle.
The most common, albeit flawed, approach to this problem focuses on content tagging. Humans – in marketing, sales support, and even sales management – assist the reps by adding small marks or additions to each content piece to help classify that content and indicate where it can have the most impact. Tags enable easier search for sales people, filtering and presenting results that the business has decided, at least at one point, will help move that deal forward.
The problem is, most organizations are experiencing exponential growth in the amount of information and content that is available for these teams to work with. The wealth of information in internally-created materials, online guides and marketing pieces, independent blogs, and peer feedback and collaboration has created perfect content storm. And let’s not even get started on auditing tags to ensure the proper ones are being used, not slightly differentiated versions – i.e. if the proper tag to use in a content piece is Marketing Automation, but someone tags it with MAP, that content won’t appear where it needs to. When it comes down to it, tagging is simply not sustainable.
AI Technology – More than Just Calling an Uber
AI technologies are more than just asking Siri to order the sales rep an Uber to the next meeting, or checking the flight departure time with Alexa before heading off to the next road trip. AI is a way to help the everyday performance of sales teams, in a way that simply was not possible before.
Machine Learning and AI tools can be used to perform some of the tasks that management teams are doing, but at scale and with adaptability. By processing content, AI can actually eliminate the use of tagging all together.
AI systems not only look at content, but also at what the entire team does – how each person is working, what materials they are using, and how the use of those materials impacts the likelihood of closing a sale. Using all that data, an AI system can, in real time, recommend content, and content centric actions, that can help the sales person to perform better. Share this here, present this here, and so on. The insights come from actual sales usage and data, not just management’s perception of what works best. The proof is in the data!
So How Do We Start with AI?
While getting to full utilization of advanced AI will be a larger initiative – think of it like the Level 5 self-driving car that we know is coming – you’ll have to start somewhere. A great way to start on this journey is beginning to, or continuing to, build a strong library of materials and sales person engagement that can then be used by AI systems to make recommendations that work. The most relevant recommendations, insights, and automation that will come from these systems will come with time – after all, they get smarter the more they have to study!
AI isn’t scary, and isn’t here to take our jobs – it’s here to help us do the human aspects of our jobs better. Who doesn’t want more time for the most enjoyable parts of their job?
This week’s post is by guest author, David Keane, Founder & CEO of Bigtincan. The Bigtincan Hub is the market’s only AI-powered enablement platform, which transforms the way sales and service organizations access, share, and collaborate on the most effective sales content.