Artificial Intelligence is the collection of capabilities and behavior by systems that are perceived by humans as intelligence . But, what is intelligent behavior when it comes to identifying the right sales opportunities to pursue, and then, engaging and defeating competition, while also providing the client with significant business value?
Intelligence suggests the ability to understand and learn, in order to better manage a task, or in our case, a sales situation. Combine the words artificial and intelligence and you get the ability to autonomously manage the key components that will drive a desired outcome within a specific domain or environment. In business-to-business sales, that domain is the sales campaign that resides within the client environment. And, the desired outcome is winning the business.
So, what can we expect? Will AI replace sales executives, as some predict? The first thing we can expect from AI is to provide us with additional objective and timely insights as to which opportunities to invest in and pursue. On large deals, the business development expense is heavy and the opportunity cost of tying up time and effort in the wrong places tends to compromise other well-qualified pursuits. This AI-driven focus on qualification alone will reduce cost and improve win rates.
Insight is the ability to think your way into something, discerning what is really happening, what caused it, and why. And then, to perhaps perceive the possible implications of what is really happening. It’s all about how we think about something. Arthur Schopenhauer, the German philosopher, said, “The task is not to see what has not yet been seen, but to think what no one has thought about that which everyone sees.” And that is exactly what AI will do next for us.
The quintessential expression of insight, and the thinking that drives it, is in predicting outcomes. AI will predict whether a sales executive’s strategy will lead to down selection and whether he or she will win the business. And, this prediction will take place early enough in the sales cycle to give the sales executive time to execute corrective action when needed. And that action will also be AI-driven, providing directional guidance to win.
So, AI will not replace sales executives, it will empower them with round-the-clock performance coaching that leverages both sales best practices and machine learning in their specific business-to-business domains and environments. The augmentation will increase wins and accelerate career growth while increasing revenue and decreasing cost for their companies!
Published by Jim Holden, Founding Partner, Holden International, and Martin Urch, EVP and Head of Group Sales Operations, Capgemini