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Everything you need to know about AI in sales

September 28, 2022
Jonathan Costet

Jonathan Costet

Sales Management

Artificial intelligence (AI) is all around us. 

If you’ve ever used a smart assistant on your phone to ask a question, a chatbot to check up on an order, or social media to browse your feed, you’ve benefited from AI.

More companies are leveraging AI to analyze data and uncover new insights. But they’re not stopping there; they’re also leveraging sales AI to boost their bottom line.

What exactly is sales AI? How does it work? And how can you incorporate this technology into your sales process? 

This article will talk about all these areas and explain why it’s more important today than ever. We’ll also look at the different ways that AI is changing sales and how you can get started with Gong’s sales intelligence platform.

What is sales AI?

Let’s define “AI” first.

Artificial intelligence or AI encompasses a range of technologies, such as machine learning, deep learning, computer vision, and natural language processing. It allows computers or machines to perform tasks that traditionally require human intelligence.

One example of how companies are using AI comes from Facebook. 

The company introduced automatic alternative text (AAT), which utilizes object recognition with data collected from billions of public Instagram images. It provides photo descriptions for blind or visually impaired individuals.

How Facebook uses AI for photo descriptions

(Image Source)

This is just one example of how companies are using AI to improve their services. Naturally, companies are using AI to supercharge their sales process.

Sales AI is software that uses artificial intelligence and other technologies to automate and improve sales processes. It can analyze huge volumes of data and draw valuable insights from them. 

One example is helping you determine which leads to prioritize by assigning a score to them based on historical data. This helps your team prioritize certain leads based on their likelihood of closing.

We’ll look at more use cases for sales AI in a later section. For now, let’s look at a question that might be on your mind. 

Will sales AI replace sales reps?

It’s a valid question. 

After all, some jobs have already been replaced by AI and robotics (assembly lines come to mind). There have also been huge technological advancements in recent years.

A good example is that chatbots are getting better at understanding human language thanks to natural language processing (NLP). It can even seem like you’re chatting with a real person.

So, is sales AI going to replace sales reps?

Not at all.

Sales is a very human-centric profession. 

Every opportunity in your pipeline has different needs. AI can help you prioritize leads and even make suggestions like when to follow up. But ultimately, it can’t tell you how to convey the value of your offer.

As such, you’ll need to change how you position your products or services to influence their decision. AI also doesn’t have the kind of knowledge about your company that your reps do. It can’t tell your reps how to respond to common sales objections.

And at the end of the day, you’re selling to a person. AI can analyze reams of data and identify patterns, but it can’t build those relationships or establish trust with prospects for you. 

Sales professionals can rest easy knowing that sales AI won’t take away their jobs anytime soon. If anything, it’ll enable them to focus more on higher-value tasks.

Why the need for sales AI is higher than ever

Are you still relying on traditional processes to close deals? Here are 3 compelling reasons why your company should adopt sales AI sooner rather than later.

Top performing sales teams are more likely to use AI

AI has already gained widespread adoption in marketing. 84% of marketers worldwide report using AI in their marketing strategies. Use cases include analyzing large amounts of data for insights and delivering personalized customer experiences.

AI adoption is growing in sales. 37% of sales organizations reported using AI in 2020, a 76% increase from 2018. What impact has this had? High-performing teams are 2.8x more likely to use AI than under-performing teams.

More companies are reporting an increase in AI use

Sales teams have reported major improvements in areas from sales forecasting to lead prioritization and more. Only a very small percentage of teams have reported no improvements with AI. 

Areas that companies using sales AI report improvements in

Bottom line? Equipping your reps with AI-powered sales tools is key to improving their sales performance.

Sales reps are wasting time on non-sales activities

Productive sales teams ultimately close deals. However, the reality is that reps are still spending time on tasks that take them away from revenue-generating activities.

Reps are still spending a huge amount of their time on the following tasks:

How sales reps spend their time

Sales AI can free up valuable time for reps to focus on selling. For example, it can help sales reps determine which leads to prioritize and even automatically create follow-up tasks for them.

Remote sales is becoming the norm

The global pandemic accelerated the shift toward remote selling. But even as lockdowns have eased, 70% to 80% of B2B decision-makers say they prefer remote human interactions.

Sales AI tools can capture and analyze conversations on digital channels, helping reps understand their prospects better. 54% of reps say that sales intelligence tools help them build stronger relationships with buyers. 69% say these tools are “very important” to closing deals.

The bottom line here is that sales AI adoption continues to grow at a rapid pace. Let’s look at how it’s changing sales.

How can sales AI transform your sales processes?

Still not convinced of the value of AI in your sales process? Here’s a closer look at the areas in which AI has a strong impact. 

Forecast sales with pinpoint accuracy

As a sales leader, accurate sales forecasts are key to making smarter financial planning and budgeting decisions.

The problem is that sales reps often rely on “gut feelings” — they’re overly optimistic about which deals are likely to close. However, when this happens, sales leaders end up working with forecasts that are higher than they actually turn out.

AI for sales can help companies forecast with pinpoint accuracy. It considers buyer interactions and other factors that reps may miss or overlook when making their estimates.

Prioritize leads with predictive lead scoring

Lead scoring is another process that’s difficult to get right. But it helps your team focus their efforts on opportunities that are more likely to convert. 

Leading scoring model

AI takes lead scoring to another level with predictive lead scoring — a methodology that uses historical data to estimate the likelihood of a prospect buying. It helps reps quickly determine which deals have a higher chance of closing.

Identify upselling and cross-selling opportunities

Marketing to existing buyers is a great way to drive more sales.

The challenge is determining who’s likely to buy from you. Sales AI can provide data-based recommendations on upselling and cross-selling opportunities based on historical data.

Recommend sales activities

When’s the perfect time to follow up with a prospect? When should you bring in a decision-maker? When should you talk about pricing? These are critical decisions that can make or break a deal.

Sales AI tools can analyze buyer interactions and provide reps with recommendations on what to do next to move a deal along.

Personalize onboarding at scale

A strong sales onboarding process is key to success. 

Top performers were three times more likely to say their onboarding was good or excellent compared to poor performers. AI can close this gap by identifying areas of improvement and providing personalized recommendations for each rep.

Sales stats for individual sales reps

These insights can help you ramp new hires even faster.

Test new sales methodologies

There’s no shortage of sales methodologies. But how do you know which one is most effective for your company? While you can shadow calls, it’s not exactly scalable.

Sales AI tools like Gong can capture sales conversations and measure the impact of your messaging. It can help you monitor talk track adoption, and confirm that reps are following your sales materials.

Get started with sales AI using Gong’s AI-powered sales enablement platform 

By handling more data-intensive tasks, AI for sales lets reps focus their efforts on selling instead of getting bogged down by tedious and repetitive tasks.

Of course, you need the right tools. Gong is a sales enablement platform that uses AI to analyze customer-facing conversations across different channels.

Here’s what you can do with our AI-powered platform.

Capture and analyze buyer interactions

Gong captures customer-facing conversations across email, phone, and web conferencing. It allows you to track specific words and phrases, so you can monitor talk track adoption.

With Gong’s powerful AI capabilities, you can use the data from successful calls to create the ultimate “battle card” — documents that help your reps sell more effectively.

Forecast with confidence

Gong can tell you which deals are likely to close by continuously capturing and analyzing buyer data. These insights enable you to create accurate sales forecasts that are grounded in facts, not opinions or “gut feelings.”

Don’t just take it from us, though.

Handshake, a career network for students, spends 66% less time on forecast-related activities per week after switching to Gong’s AI-powered sales enablement platform. Now they can get a full picture of their pipeline and create accurate forecasts within 15 minutes.

Check out the case study on how Handshake uses Gong here.

Spot at-risk deals

At-risk deals show common indicators — reps haven’t followed up in weeks, decision-makers haven’t been involved, budgets haven’t been discussed, etc. Wait any longer, and these deals are at risk of slipping away forever.

Gong gives you complete visibility into your sales pipeline. It shows you which deals are on the verge of slipping, so you can take action before it’s too late.

Identify at-risk deals with Gong

Gong doesn’t just show you which deals are at risk; it also recommends specific actions that you should take to keep the momentum going. 

“Clone” top performers

Every organization has its sales superstars who always crush their targets and make closing deals look effortless. Ever wonder what their secret is?

With Gong, you don’t have to wonder anymore.

Gong’s sales AI software lets you see exactly what your top reps are doing, from the questions they’re asking to the exact phrases they’re using. By understanding what separates your top reps, you can replicate their success across your team.

Help teams focus on the next steps

It’s not always clear what steps a rep should take to move a deal forward. 

Gong Assist identifies and recommends revenue-generating tasks. But its capabilities go even further to help make your reps more productive. Instead of simply sending reminders to send an email follow-up, it will automatically draft the email.

Deliver personalized sales coaching

Every sales rep has its own challenges — some may struggle to overcome pricing objections, while others may need more help getting the messaging right.

Personalized sales coaching with sales AI

Gong lets you take sales coaching to the next level. It helps you identify coaching opportunities for each rep to unlock their true potential.

Onboard new sales reps faster

Reducing the time it takes to onboard new sales reps means faster time to quota attainment and more revenue for your company.

Gong helps you identify the conversations that have led to closed deals by capturing and analyzing buyer interactions. Giving new hires access to these conversations can help you accelerate the onboarding process without spending months shadowing calls.

Bolster your sales processes with sales AI today

AI is transforming the sales process. Analyzing large data sets can extract actionable insights that sales reps can leverage to refine their strategies and make informed decisions.

Ready to get started with sales AI?

Gong’s powerful sales enablement software delivers AI-powered insights, enabling you to unlock more revenue, create accurate forecasts, deliver personalized coaching, and more.

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