Drawing off of his book, Sales Ex Machina: How Artificial Intelligence is Changing the World of Selling, Victor Antonio reveals to Harvard Business Review that artificial intelligence is a huge player in the sales world. More specifically, algorithms – such as the ones that help end users calculate which shows to watch on Netflix, and what products they might like to buy on Amazon – can be used to “power any company’s decision-making process,” and help decision makers select wiser business choices.
Antonio details 5 major areas in sales that are impacted by AI:
- Price optimization – AI algorithms can tell decision makers which ideal discount rates to set their products/services in order to stay competitive based off of past deals. “Features could include: size of the deal in terms of dollar amount, product specification compliance, number of competitors, company size, territory/region, client’s industry, client’s annual revenues, public or private company, level of decision-makers (influencers) involved,” etc., according to Antonio.
- Forecasting – Algorithms can help decision makers, including sales managers, better predict sales numbers. For example, algorithms can more accurately predict the revenue that could be generated next quarter, which can help decision makers prepare and manage inventory and other resources.
- Upselling and Cross-Selling – AI can help decision makers better identify their customers, such as who their current clientele is, which of them are more likely to buy a better version of what they currently own, which of them want new products, etc. This is beneficial because “the net effect is an increase in revenue and a drop in marketing costs,” Antonio says.
- Lead Scoring – Antonio says “A salesperson with a rich pipeline of qualified potential clients has to make decisions on a daily, or even hourly, basis as to where to focus their time when it comes to closing deals to hit their monthly or quarterly quota.” With algorithms, historical information about a client can be compiled, which can help decision makers rank potential leads according their chances of “closing successfully.”
- Managing for Performance – AI can also help decision makers, such as sales managers, keep tabs on employees’ performances. With this data, managers can virtually see which employees will meet their goals, which ones are struggling, and where to guide support to ensure the company hits its goals as a whole.