In today’s fast paced business environment, there are several factors that contribute to a company’s success in B2B selling; **spoiler alert** having a great product and an experienced sales team are only the bare minimum. Disruptive technologies, sophisticated customer expectations, and fierce competition are just a few of the reasons doing the bare minimum is simply not enough to combat the uncertainty these challenges bring.
Increasingly, companies are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to gain a sustainable selling advantage.
Our customers partner with PROS because of our decades-long expertise developing AI-centric solutions. We harness the power of AI to unleash data-driven insights to reinforce their selling success and grow their business. If you’re thinking of implementing B2B AI technologies in your business, don’t be dissuaded by some of the common myths.
Myth #1: It’s all Hype!
New buzzwords touting the next big technology disrupting the business world are all too common – and it’s often difficult to identify what they all mean, let alone which will truly have a lasting impact. No doubt, in the last few years you’ve read the breathless headlines around AI and its potential to usher in the next revolution in sales.
While it would be tempting to do so, you shouldn’t write off AI as more hype. Those promises of B2B AI transforming your business are finally coming true! Don’t believe me? Here are just a few ways that AI is being leveraged by B2B companies to give their sales teams an advantage:
- AI-based CPQ tools that rely on algorithmic principles are delivering insights into what types of products individual customers want to drive and the true personalization needed to win new business.
- AI is increasing sales responsiveness in quoting with automation that allows for faster quoting on relevant products and with competitive pricing.
- AI sales solutions are allowing sales teams to go beyond new customer acquisition to also identify new revenue opportunities within existing accounts because of AI’s ability to analyze extraordinary amounts of data and synthesize the data into patterns.
Armed with the info they need, sales teams can offer your customers the right product, at the right price, and with the best chance of winning their continued business. That’s the value that AI drives. It’s more than hype!
Myth #2: AI Will Replace Sales People.
It would be naïve to think that AI sales technologies don’t have the potential to displace some sales functions or people, but realistically that future is a long way off. In the near term, AI will be a complimentary technology that will free salespeople to focus on value add sales activities and will automate more of the administrative tasks that are huge time-stealers in the typical salesperson’s day.
Businesses that broaden their thinking about B2B AI will recognize that AI can augment the human seller in many ways. Imagine a simple, but meaningful, scenario that B2B sellers often face during the buying cycle – the need to research a perspective customer showing interest in a product. The seller spends time scouring social media and the customer’s website trying to glean pertinent information. This is time he or she is not spending on making the sale. AI solutions can be deployed to scrub multiple data sources and unearth relevant information for the salesperson thereby giving them more selling time. This example only scratches the surface – the possibilities for AI application in B2B sales space are now rapidly coming into view!
Myth #3: Adopting AI is Simply Implementing a Few Projects.
I once worked for a software company that decided to implement Agile Development methodology. Our CTO had become a big proponent of Agile and the product teams began haphazardly implementing the approach within their teams. Without an organization wide project plan or change management effort, we wound up operating more of an Agile/Waterfall Frankenstein approach that lacked the strengths of either approach, but certainly surfaced all their drawbacks!
Unlike my experience with an Agile implementation, businesses need to take a more strategic approach toward implementing artificial intelligence into their organization. Paraphrasing a December 2017 report by Forrester analyst John Bruno, entitled “How AI will Transform Sales,” here are four steps businesses should take to create a strong foundation to capitalize on the revolution in B2B sales AI. Business leaders should:
- Prepare your data
- Connect data from around your organization
- Increase your knowledge of AI
- Experiment with AI use cases
I’ve now debunked a few of the common myths around B2B AI adoption in sales. What do you think? Are there other myths about AI that you wish would go away? If you would like to learn more about the present and future of artificial intelligence in sales, check out the Forrester report I mentioned above.