Technology was supposed to save us time and make our lives better. But for most of us, all the tech in our lives has just added to the burden. From the hundreds of emails and thousands of Slack messages we sift through each day, to the nonstop Google calendar scheduling (and rescheduling) ping pong, we’re drowning in “helpful technology.” Ugh. What happened?
Data happened. As we’ve moved more and more of our work online, we’re generating a sea of data that gives rise to a tsunami of alerts and todos. Tending to all that data takes up so much time, that we’re left with little to spend on the main function of our jobs. The human stuff that often happens face-to-face is taking a backseat to curating a growing collection of apps.
Take sales, for instance. At its core, sales is about relationships. The best salespeople close deals by building trust, demonstrating empathy for potential customers with problems to solve, and authentically connecting the dots between a pain point and a solution. But according to a recent Hubspot survey, most salespeople spend a majority of their days on completely mundane tasks like writing emails, scheduling meetings, and data entry. Paradoxically, they’re actually getting less selling done because of all the apps they use to help them sell more.
Enter: artificial intelligence. AI is already entering our work lives through the spread of intelligent agents, many focused on a single task, which hold the promise of stealing back all that time time lost to the data deluge. It’s time to let AI handle the machine tasks that have squeezed so much humanity out of our jobs.
Here are four ways intelligent AI agents are changing the sales profession.
1. AI gives you time to meet with customers
One of the most important benefits of vertical AI is the time it frees up for human workers. Think about how much of your day is spent on tedious, but necessary administrative tasks like managing your schedule, cleaning up your CRM, or processing meeting notes. These are the very tasks that have been made more difficult by the very machines that were supposed to help us! Your Google calendar is easier to update than your old paper one, but scheduling meetings is just as much of a pain. Imagine how much more you could get done if you could offload this type of task to an AI assistant.
Intelligent agents are already helping sales pros reclaim hours of their time. Our AI assistant, Amy, schedules meetings, a back-and-forth process that takes on average 17 minutes per meeting. Let’s say you have a sales team of five and each member averages eight meetings with prospects every week. That’s nearly 50 hours AI can reclaim for your team each month. Imagine all the selling you could do with 50 extra hours. (You can see exactly how much time your team could save with our ROI calculator.)Sales reps are deploying another agent, called Clarke, to remove the burden of note-taking. Clarke joins your meetings, listens in and takes notes on what’s said, generating an outline with action items. Similarly, Tact is an AI agent that rescues time for sales agents by automatically updating customer data in your CRM and surfacing that data right when you need it.
2. AI optimizes your tedious sales process
With all that extra time, you’ll have a lot more opportunity to focus on the human parts of your job: building relationships and selling. These are the tasks you that only you can do, but AI agents can help you improve upon them.
Gong and Chorus are vertical AI platforms that analyze your sales calls to find the moments that help and hurt to close deals. Use them to identify behaviors you should repeat or remove in order to sell more, to track how your team is doing, or to build “highlight” reels for onboarding new sales agents. Think of them like AI-powered game tape for sales. Forward-thinking sales reps are also using Edward, an AI assistant that makes sure you stay on top of warm leads, prioritizes your day for optimal selling, and gives you advice about how to sell better. With Troops, a Slackbot for your sales team, there’s no more need to trudge through Salesforce. Troops integrates with Salesforce to get you instant information, configure reports, and communicate your wins with the rest of your team all through Slack.
3. AI prioritizes your hot leads
Lead qualification is one of the more important but laborious tasks for sales teams. Mis-prioritizing leads is both time consuming and costly. AI agents like Conversica are helping companies automate that process, which ensures that reps are spending their time on the right leads. A lead verification agent that Conversica built for CenturyLink in 2016 is reportedly returning $20 for every dollar spent on the system—pretty good ROI.
Another AI-powered bot platform, Drift, uses chat to help companies automatically verify leads without the need for a 24/7, on-demand sales staff. That frees up sales reps to focus only on the leads most likely to turn into sales. HubSpot uses machine learning to parse your existing data—CRM, website, social, email—to score your leads and tell you which to focus on.
4. AI improves your customer communications
AI can also improve your interactions when you actually reach out to those prospects. The act of building trust and closing a deal is still a distinctly human task, but AI can augment your innate selling ability.
Crystal is an AI-powered platform that builds personality reports about leads based on past communications and social media. Learn what to say and what not to say and get instant suggestions for how to better personalize your emails. Another AI agent, Grammarly, makes sure your writing is clear, effective, and grammatically correct.
Your job is changing
These AI agents are only the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of vertical artificial intelligence assistants will launch over the next few years remaking every aspect of your job. It’ll be up to you to adapt to those changes and make sure you’re taking full advantage of the opportunities that AI will offer to make you a better salesperson.
As Salesforce’s VP of Strategic Planning, Peter Schwartz, says, “I’d be more worried about being replaced by another salesperson who is empowered by intelligence than by a machine.”