Gartner recently released its new AI Guided Selling* report after surveying global Chief Sales Officers (CSOs), and unsurprisingly, found that the COVID-19 outbreak had caught many Gartner clients unprepared – in particular, those that relied heavily on human-to-human interactions.
Many Gartner clients found they did not have reliable, forward-looking indicators to manage their sales forecasts on mature sales deals and did not have the ability to monitor each step in the sales journey, nor were they able to prioritize their sales opportunities. Over 46 per cent of the surveyed CSOs reported seeing softening demand, and some near-term forecasts now vary by as much as 50 per cent from the previous forecast baseline.
Given these market dynamics, Gartner stressed the imperative for CSOs to revamp their sales processes – both internal operational processes and customer-facing engagement – and to modernize their sales operating practices to reduce risk and accelerate their usage of Artificial Intelligence guided selling tools.
Another leading AI Research Authority, Jim Dickie, Partner at Sales Mastery, also reinforced the imperative to modernize sales practices. In Sales Mastery’s 2020: AI Sales Solution Guide, they profiled over 180 Sales AI market leaders covering pre-sales to post-service CRM offerings.
Gartner also highlighted in their report leading applications in the race to provide AI guided selling tools. In particular, they emphasized AI Sales forecasting, AI Opportunity Scoring, AI Conversation Intelligence, and AI Pricing Technologies. In addition, they stressed the increasing importance of AI Coaching Enablement that guides sales professionals on next step best actions based on the real-time signals and patterns emerging in the lifecycle of the sales opportunity.
The Gartner report also stressed that although the Chief Sales Officers currently do not see a need to change their sales strategy, they do admit that their forecasts show a lot of variabilities, ranging from +25 per cent improvement to −50 per cent reductions. This variability is not surprising, given the abundance of poor planning, and sales professionals are naturally overly optimistic in their sales forecasting. Gartner strongly advised that AI-driven sales forecasting solutions that use predictive analytics, in particular, were most relevant for immediate consideration.
Our Women in Technology page is where you can find more stories like these, featuring expert insight about all-things technology, written by women in tech, as well as our own staff at IT World Canada
But predictive is not enough to win big and end the uncertainty of unpredictable revenue forecasts. SalesChoice, for example, was one of the first market entry players in this space, well ahead of the growth curve of AI Sales enabled solutions. With their head start, the company has learned that predictive analytics on pattern recognition of providing a more reliable sales forecast – up to even 90 per cent levels – is simply not good enough. Sales professionals need more guidance to unlock their behaviours to move in new directions consistently. It’s all about human cognition and behavioural changes enabled from data insights.
Going well beyond predictive analytics, which is just table stakes, SalesChoice has also developed a comprehensive Insight Engine of rich AI functionality for sales professionals and offers guided coaching insights in real-time – an area called Prescriptive Analytics or Next Step Best Actions. Knowing which options a sales professional has enabled him or her to make more informed decisions like change a pricing discount to a better threshold to increase your odds of conversion, not to respond to an RFP as odds are low vs chasing a different opportunity, or act on a stronger lead channel with higher odds of conversion, or shift your sales pricing to be in a higher win threshold range – all these types of guided insights accelerates a sales professional’s ability to meet or exceed sales targets. Time is a sales professional’s scarcest resource and with B2B sales productivity experiencing a downturn, modernizing sales with AI guidance tools is critical to see more and win more.
Purolator, one of North America’s largest logistics and transportation companies chose SalesChoice to guide its North American sales force, direct and indirect, due to its simplicity and ease of use, despite being powered by the most advanced AI methods. There are only ever three keystrokes in SalesChoice and then Purolator can run any scenario, on any timing dimension, for any region or team, and hence easily forecast a future outcome to improve operational efficiencies and increase growth odds of success.
Jeff Green, senior vice-president of sales and customer experience at Purolator, is leading the charge using AI to modernize business practices across the Purolator Customer Value Chain.
“SalesChoice is a SaaS AI Guided Selling company that is unique in its customer service orientation, as they are not transactional in nature; rather they are transparent and strategic as we are learning together – modernizing our business practices with the support of their AI engineering and solution talents. It’s a new world and at Purolator, we are embracing AI as we know that it’s a business imperative. AI is a long term journey and it can be uncannily accurate once you build the right foundations on data lineage, an area that SalesChoice is vigilant about ensuring clients have robust data for achieving statistical accuracy and valid insights. Humans are more empowered with AI as they can have a firm’s collective intelligence at their fingertips to increase their velocity and precision moves. That’s what we find exciting about AI – it’s time to try solutions, like SalesChoice, and learn how AI can augment your current methods to reach higher levels of operational efficiency, but also increase your win rates.”
SalesChoice, a Salesforce ISV Partner, analyzes data from SalesCloud and in real-time, the SalesChoice’ powerful AI Insight Engine builds a unique AI model for every client, and ensures the data integrity of each client’s predictions, versus assuming one size fits all. At Purolator, SalesChoice Insight Engine is also integrated with Salesforce Einstein leveraging its excellent Business Intelligence Layer, (former Wave Analytics), where all of Purolator’s sales reporting lies, but predictive forecasting, Guided AI selling enablements are all driven by SalesChoice’s AI Insight Engine, blending the best of both worlds.
“Our brand is anchored in Ending Revenue Uncertainty, using AI”, says Dr. Cindy Gordon, CEO and Founder, SalesChoice Inc. “There are a lot of black box approaches in the AI Sales market, and our team wanted to ensure that our clients could trust us so much with our predictions that we also have built a real time audit trail, proving whether what we said would happen did happen; so, our value is always – front and center. We are targeting to be the easiest, the most comprehensive, and the smartest platform for AI Sales Enablement. And it all starts with ensuring our customers have complete data, otherwise AI cannot deliver the promise of ending the uncertainty of inaccurate revenue forecasts or advising sales professionals on next step best actions.”
In addition to the power of Salesforce, SalesChoice is a new IBM Business Partner, and the company has just released a psychographic profiler matching the right sales professional with the right buyer profile, from a Ontario Center of Excellence (OCE Grant) leveraging the solution selling logic of classifying buyer types. This is an exciting new branch of AI using Natural Language Processing (NLP) rooted in linguistic and once you reach over 2,000 words or more, the sciences are uncannily accurate in predicting buyer sentiment, positive or negative, or psychological profiles, whether they prefer fact based communication as an analytic buyer or story telling communication if an expressive buyer. We all know of situations where client(s) have lost due to people or culture fit mismatching. This is a very exciting field to be on the forefront of and it won’t be long before much of our sales messaging will be automatically be rewritten by Intelligent AI Agents, so humans can focus on what we do best – enabling emotional sense making and creating memorable and lasting relationships.
We are well on our way to bring man and machine together in more powerful ways, and merging art and sciences in sales practices – bringing better experiences to our customers and future buyers – and innovating with artificial intelligence methods.