Machine learning will augment Sales, not replace them

Posted by  Stephanie Richards

The sales process, winning and keeping clients, is arguably one of the more people-focused areas of business. It takes a certain kind of person to succeed in sales, but that’s not to say there isn’t room for man and machine to work together to improve the processes.

Most B2B decision makers go with a referral from someone they know and trust to start the buying process. This is why sales will remain “human”. But automation is enabling teams to offload their administrative tasks, and instead focus more on the personal element of selling. This may no longer be face-to-face as it once was, but digital interaction and meaningful communication between two people is the today’s equivalent.

What does the future hold for sales?

Sales teams will strengthen with the introduction and continued integration of developing technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation. And far from people being replaced by futuristic sales robots, this will emphasise the importance of the human touch in the process. The repetitive questions around the purchase of an item can be taken on by a bot, but the more indepth, consultative questions will very much require a conversation with a person.

Automation within the CRM

A salesperson makes their money from selling, and not from logging their email and telephone communications in their CRM system. Here, artificial intelligence becomes the willing office junior, entering notes, recording interactions, and flagging important emails or calls.

Classification through machine learning

Identifying whether a deal is worth pursuing or not is an art. While it’s a skill that can be taught over time, a machine can assess a prospect instantly. Not only that, artificial intelligence can suggest which deals would be most appropriate or appeal most to the would-be customer based on historical data. Machines turn the art into a science.

Accurate forecasting

Far from inflated numbers or conservative predictions, artificial intelligence will accurately and honestly provide a sales forecast. Having reliable figures to work with will help make more informed business decisions, and having a machine do all the number-crunching frees up manpower also.

Upsell, cross-sell, renew

Even the best, most attentive sales person will need to go back and review the notes they made about their interactions with a company when they are selling in. A carefully, consistently logged record, courtesy of artificial intelligence, means all that information is easily available and ready-analysed. The right information, the right lead, and the sales team is armed to close.

Sales people doing what they do best

Online sales is already augmented by AI; identify relevant products and therefore further opportunity to sell based on previous transactions. Today’s salesperson will use the technology to better understand their customers. Getting to know the customer helps build long-standing relationships, and is made easier with reliable, readily available data. If a customer feels valued, they’re more likely to buy.

Stephanie Richards

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