Mar
07

There’s no escaping it…Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the future, and the future is now.

Well, almost…

 

“80% Of Marketing Executives Predict Artificial Intelligence Will Revolutionize Marketing by 2020…Yet, Only 10% Are Currently Using It”

 

Instead of fearing the likelihood that Terminator may happen in the coming years, I’m going to uncover the specific advantages that AI has the potential to bring to your B2B sales team…right now.

After all; we may as well make some money before the world ends!

AI in sales is focused on predictions…and the greatest, most successful brands are also the best predictors. AI helps to clear the muddy waters of client and prospect relationships, providing sales professionals with the ammo they need to accurately understand the behaviors, motivations and hesitations of both their existing and target accounts.

This deeper level of understanding has the power to drive insane loyalty — minus floods of guesswork and errors.

Before diving in, I want to share some vital information with you. Strong AI, Super Intelligence, Narrow AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning are terms that often get confused.

Strong AI is a ‘machine’ that demonstrates behaviour indistinguishable from that of a human being. (Not available just yet)! If Strong AI is human-like, Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) is The Terminator.

Thankfully, it’s 2017 and this article primarily covers Narrow AI and its common ally; Machine Learning…

Here is a graphic to explain the common variations perfectly:

(Source: Dun et Bradstreet)


Stay with me! With all variations defined, here are 5 forces of AI to transform your B2B sales methods:

Force #1: Prospect Identification

Predictive analytics is the backbone of AI’s function in discovering fresh, relevant, target accounts for your sales team to approach and win.

An AI-based system focuses on your best prospects and automatically scores them on their propensity to buy from you. This score is gained from masses of market data compared and matched with your ideal customer profile, saving heaps of manual labour.

(Source:Sparklane)


Here are just a few possible data points taken into consideration (on-the-fly) by an AI-based platform:

  • Size of company
  • Location
  • Recent ventures
  • Length of sales cycle
  • Revenue
  • Growth rate
  • Financial health
  • Recruitments
  • Relocations
  • Funding rounds (date, time, size)
  • Social Media activity

Such a robust system well-equips your sales team to approach prospects with the right arguments at the optimal times. In 2016, Account Based Marketing exploded with more than 70 percent of B2B companies focused on deploying ABM — the strategy that involves ‘poaching’ valuable clients and attracting them with highly-personalized content.

(Source:MarTech Today)


As you can imagine, with the introduction of Artificial Intelligence to predict, hyper-target and score prospects…THEN alert you via triggers; it puts this Account Based Marketing on steroids!

(Source:Sparklane)


There’s no doubt about it…it’s time to get intelligent with prospect identification.

Force #2: Lead Conversion

If you’re not applying AI in your B2B, guess what? Most of your existing, valuable leads aren’t being pursued. It’s estimated that only 27% of leads get contacted by a salesperson, and even then — they aren’t fully aware of prospects’ true intentions.

An automated yet intelligent approach to lead conversion relieves strain and has the potential to yield superior results via big data.

The diagram below shows a staggering before and after snapshot where predictive analytics were applied to prioritize active leads for sales reps to call (MQL = Marketing Qualified Leads):

(Source: Infer)


Yes – that’s 88 less outbound calls per qualified lead!

And the flexibility of AI doesn’t end there…

One particular AI software vendor has unparalleled potential to maximize conversion rates by almost-autonomously contacting 100% of ripe leads (while weeding out any waste) in a highly-personalized fashion, pertinent to their pain points and stage in the buying cycle.

AI-based communication of this nature is more intelligent, less artificial! It has the potential to read replies to emails and respond accordingly, interpreting leads’ intentions and sentiment based on their language and tone.

With nurturing cycles of some businesses spanning many months, the benefits are clear; this form of AI dramatically increases efficiency in otherwise-human sales processes.

Only 12% of salespeople make more than three contacts with a lead…yet 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact.

AI-driven lead conversion like this never slacks on follow ups, notably increasing the likelihood of recall and ultimately — sales.

All this done for you…while your sales team are focusing on top-level strategy and closing deals. Pretty damn cool.

 

Force #3: Intelligent, Scaled MarCom

It’s not only private communication that can be cleverly automated to boost acquisitions…

For the interconnection of your entire sales and marketing process, ultra-personalized marketing communications (MarComs) are essential.

 

“Nearly 74% of online consumers get frustrated with website offers, ads and other content that is misaligned with their interests.”

(Source: Hubspot)

Thankfully, personalized marketing and conversations are already happening all around us with the application of ABM — but that’s not typically scalable. One-on-one emailing, phone calls and content baiting aren’t going to set the world on fire at a rate of speed, nor are manually-created ad campaigns.

Enter AI.

Let’s say you receive 5 million website visitors a year. Using the power of AI, each and every visitor can expect a completely tailored experience, from humanised live-chat conversations to dynamically-generated ads, content and website interfaces.

This is conversion optimization. In real-time! And the possibilities are endless…

(Source: Duda)


AI makes hyper-personalization possible — at scale. The next couple of years are going to be game changers for the larger enterprise.

Sales teams won’t be let down by websites, and websites won’t be let down by sales teams!

Force #4: Appointment Optimisation

Perhaps I’ve just coined that term?

In an ideal world, we’d all have an office assistant. Unfortunately, most companies can’t afford to stomach a PA for every sales rep!

Well, there’s AI for that…

Amy Ingram (and Andrew, her brother) are AI personal assistants who you can rely on to arrange and confirm your sales meetings!

Just CC your new AI buddy in your email and ask them to schedule your appointment. They will do all the hard work for you, liaising with your prospect just like a human would.

Has your jaw hit the floor yet?

(Source:TechRepublic)


Force #5: Efficient Data Cleansing

Remember: AI is only as good as the data available to it…at least, for now.

It is critical to ensure your MAP (Marketing Automation Platform) and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) data sets are constantly cleansed and enriched for maximum ROI on AI. (I wish everybody would slow down on the abbreviations and acronyms.)

The New York Times once reported that data scientists once spent anywhere from 50-80% of their time cleaning up data to prepare it for use of any kind.

(Source: 1CRM)


That’s soon going to be a task of the past. AI providers in the B2B space also offer data cleansing services as part of their packages; so your sales teams are able to utilize accurate information, updated automatically (or at very least, have alerts sent to them) in real-time.

And yes…these services are also often driven (in part) by Machine Learning algorithms and Artificial Intelligence!

I discussed AI and 5 other significant B2B marketing trends not so long ago. Don’t miss it!

 

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Sam Hurley
About the Author
Sam Hurley is a lateral-thinking digital marketer holding 6+ years’ self-expedited experience in both agency and client-side settings before launching his own digital consultancy venture: OPTIM-EYEZ. He is ranked as the world’s #1 digital influencer by Webinale and #2 most influential digital marketer by Onalytica. He was also recently commended as one of the top 3 content marketing influencers of 2016 by ScribbleLive.