While the overwhelming majority of B2B sales professionals have high hopes for the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to help them do their jobs, less than half have actually started to implement such tools, according to the results of a recent survey released by InsideSales.
Based on a set of questions fielded to more than 630 sales professionals who were either front line, manager or more senior, the InsideSales data showed just over 50 per cent see AI as the technology with the most potential to assist them in their roles. A slightly lower proportion, or 44 per cent, said they plan to deploy AI applications this year. Among those who have already done so, popular use cases include scoring and prioritization (44 per cent) and contacting and qualification (33 per cent). Overall, 90 per cent said AI could boost sales.
The InsideSales survey results suggest a shift in attitude among sales professionals who might have been reluctant to shift from keeping their customer contacts close to sharing data within customer relationship management (CRM) tools. While the rise of AI frequently prompts discussion about displacing or eliminating jobs, those who responded to InsideSales seemed primarily challenged about how to get access to the tools.
“AI will continue to take hold throughout the sales process and embed itself deeper into more sales roles,” the report said. “Sales professionals, while generally optimistic about this prospect, often lack the understanding, budget, or will to implement AI solutions that they themselves expect to create a very significant (33.8%) lift on their sales.”
Ironically, when asked what vendors they most closely associate with AI for sales, InsideSales came far behind tech giants such as Google, Amazon and Salesforce. This might be tied to the consumer-oriented tools salespeople are using with AI functionality. For example, nearly 16 per cent of respondents reported using AI “all the time” outside of work with smartphone apps and smart speakers. This represents a 48 per cent jump since InsideSales asked the same question last year.
Making use of AI in a B2B sales contacts means thinking beyond merely identifying prospects, according to Revenue Analytics chief science officer Jon Higbie, In a recent post on DigitalCommerce 360, Higbie said enterprises should also think about how AI can recommend better pricing and deal structure at an account level at near-real time.
“Sales professionals still make up an indispensable component, but now they are armed with better information to negotiate effectively and profitably,” Higbie said. “B2B sales analytics is not about charging higher rates; AI-recommended rates are often, in fact, lower. It is about efficiently winning the deal while earning a more profitable margin.”
A U.K.-based firm named Cognism, meanwhile, recently secured a patent to use AI to reduce ambiguity around CRM data and offer more dynamic data sourcing.