According to 2017 World-Class Sales Practices Study from CSO Insights, the research division of Miller Heiman Group®, only 53 percent of sellers made quota last year—10 percentage points lower than just five years ago. Compounding matters is organizations keep raising their revenue targets even as sales teams are struggling. The overall state of the sales industry appears tenuous.

Leveraging AI in Sales

Artificial intelligence (AI) is preparing to completely transform how sellers sell and how buyers buy.

Innovative sales organizations will use AI to augment what they’re doing to become not just more productive, but more effective as well. And as I consider the future of selling, there are four areas sales organizations must invest in AI to drive success; reducing tedium in sales, optimizing sales execution, assessing sales professional and sales manager talent, and continually educating sales teams, if we are going to optimize sales performance.

Let’s First Examine Sales Tedium

As part of CSO Insights 2017 World-Class Sales Practices Study, we asked the study participants to breakdown how salespeople are spending their time. A summary of the analysis below shows that less than 30 percent of the average sales professional’s time is dedicated to doing what we hired them to do – sell.

How do we increase that percentage? What if we gave each sales person their own assistant who could do tasks such as research prospect accounts, gather contact information and insights into key stakeholders, schedule meetings with those individuals, transcribe the entire conversation of each sales call and append that information to CRM records, process all the paper work for each order they close, etc. If sales professionals didn’t have to do those tasks themselves, do you think we could increase the amount of time they would have to sell by 5, 10 or 15 percent?

Well, there are AI systems available right now that perform all those tasks, and they will do so at a fraction of the cost of hiring support people to assist sales professionals. And these systems will get more and more robust over time, taking on more of the tedious tasks that consume the time of our salespeople such as entering information into CRM systems, continually updating sales forecasts, notifying customers about new product announcements, etc.

While this will be a solid start to address the challenges our sales teams are facing in terms of finding more time to sell, it will not be enough. We also need to optimize how effective they are when selling, which I will explore in part two of this four blog series.

Learn how to prepare for the future of sales. Check out our web resources and exclusive content, attend one of Miller Heiman Group’s upcoming Future of Sales Revenue Tour events, or listen to the webinar, What Does the Future of Sales Look Like?

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