Sometimes technology trends creep into our lives slowly, until they emerge with such prevalence that our business success absolutely depends on them.
Take mobile devices, which were once dubbed “car phones” in the 70s because their bulk made them useful only inside a vehicle. Fast forward to today.
A recent survey by The Atlantic asked Silicon Valley executives if any were ever unreachable. “Since I’m writing this on a canoe trip in the Adirondacks, I’d say no,” responded Carl Bass, president and CEO of Autodesk.
If you’ve searched on Google, you’ve experienced A.I. If you’ve watched a movie suggested by Netflix, you’ve benefited from A.I. If you recently used your credit card, A.I. is protecting you from fraud right now.
In fact, Tractica, a market intelligence research firm that focuses on human interaction with technology, forecasts that the market for A.I. systems just in enterprise applications alone will increase from $202.5 million in 2015 to $11.1 billion by 2024, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 56.1 percent.
Companies that have already started to use AI are ahead of the curve and it is already paying off for them according to Dataversity Magazine in its “Artificial Intelligence In 2016: Are You Ready For What It Will Bring”. The piece adds that “those that are not yet investing in AI are already falling behind, and will be scrambling to catch up over the next year or two.”
What’s more, if your business relies on sales and marketing, and few don’t, game-changing innovations are already hitting prime time.
4 Sales Technologies You Can Leverage Right Now
Clearly, savvy executives representing organizations of every size and type are already investigating and adopting A.I. solutions. So let’s review some existing A.I. options that can help your sales organization succeed.
1. Strategic Analytics & Pricing
By integrating information from your data warehouse with external data sets, solutions like Complexica’s “Larry the Digital Assistant” use sophisticated algorithms from the field of cognitive analytics to create actionable sales and marketing insights.
Just a few examples include understanding how various customer segments respond to different product and service offers; determining how customer preferences change over time; learning how customer loyalty is generated and maintained; measuring how promotional campaigns impact volume, margin, and product cannibalization; and so on.
Naturally, the accuracy of such insights can provide a competitive edge. But, prior to A.I. solutions, generating such insights required legions of analysts or were impossible to obtain at all.
2. Predictive Demand Generation
In this category, A.I. solutions are taking different approaches to the problem of generating qualified leads.
Some, like Nova.ai, scrape through online identities of prospects and then generate a personalized paragraph for sales people to add to their email pitches. Such solutions can even track the rates for opens, clicks, replies and bounces. Over time, platforms can even learn what approaches work best, such as highlighting connections related to education history or volunteer endeavors.
Other solutions, such as Everstring and Englue’s LeadCrunch use the attributes of your best customers to mine the web for similarities and deliver a list of prospects. This type of platform is adept at identifying segments with a highly likelihood to purchase that could otherwise be overlooked. As a result, some small business are being successfully matched to much larger enterprises they’d never considered approaching.
3. Lead Engagement and Qualification
This type of solution can take thousands of leads, prioritize them and then engage in friendly, colloquial, two-way email conversations until the A.I. determines a lead is ready to hand off to a human salesperson to close the deal. As a result, sales teams close more deals in less time because they concentrate only on customers ready to buy. Additionally, fewer customers are lost to competitors because they are continuously engaged by the personable yet persistent A.I. sales assistant.
In a study conducted using Conversica’s lead management solution, PCG Research reported a 200 percent increase in email open rates from the A.I.-generated emails as compared to typical marketing messages.
4. Digital Concierges for Online Sales
At businesses reliant on shopping carts, “digital concierges” are already hard at work. Based on various cues, such as navigation patterns and past sales, concierges by Yseop and Artificial Solutions can suggest products, provide special offers and cross-sell. They can also mimic the in-store experience by dialoguing with customers to determine needs, suggest products and overcome objections. Once they’ve engaged, their capability to minimize drop-outs grows increasingly sophisticated as the interaction proceeds.
Native CRM Integration, “AI as a Service” Simplicity, and More
Your business doesn’t need to spend months in complex software integration to gain the benefits of artificial intelligence powered applications. First, some A.I. solutions already integrate with the most popular CRM and marketing automation systems on the market, such as Salesforce, Marketo, Eloqua and Velocify.
Also, some solutions are cloud-based and operate on an A.I.-as-a-Service model, reducing adoption barriers. Partnering with an A.I. leader means zero new application development.
Leveraging next generation artificial intelligence technology can improve marketing and sales results while also reducing costs. A.I. can work seamlessly with your existing team members to make their workdays more enjoyable and also be more responsive to your customers. And an A.I. solution can engage with thousands of prospects or produce actionable insights from terabytes of data without requiring physical office space or a salary.
In short, if your business has yet to investigate what A.I. can do for your marketing and sales efforts, the time to do so is now. Although A.I. may still be an emerging trend, it’s a competitive differentiator that is already significantly improving sales engagement and boosting bottom lines.
[I originally wrote this post for business.com and welcome your comments here. Has your company started to adopt AI solutions to enhance your sales and marketing efforts and if so, what solutions have you considered?]