If you’re ever at a really boring cocktail party, use this one question to liven it up:
“How long will it be until artificial intelligence takes everyone’s jobs?”
Every person within earshot will suddenly be pouring out their visceral reactions. “In thirty years we’ll all be replaced!” or “Never! There are some jobs robots will never be able to do!”
There. You’ve done your job. Smile and sip your cocktail.
The Move Toward Automation
When you work in sales development, this cocktail party question is asked laced with legitimate fear. We all see the gradual automation of many sales and marketing processes that used to be performed solely by humans.
No one wants to feel superfluous. And when it comes to work, no one wants to be superfluous. The consequences are both emotionally and professionally undesirable.
We’re not an oracle or a prophet, so we’re not going to even try to answer the “how long will it be?” question or even the “will it be?” question. What we can do is share what we’re seeing now: the integration of AI in sales to the benefit of the sales development and sales management teams. Here’s what it looks like:
Competition vs. Cooperation
Some sales development tasks are worse than a boring cocktail party. According to InsideSales, 14.8% of sales reps’ time is spent on administrative tasks. Ugh.
But wait. It gets worse.
That 14.8% is only part of the 64.8% of reps’ time that is spent on non-revenue-generating tasks. Yes, that’s right. Only 35.2% of reps’ time is spent on external customer-facing meetings, following up with clients, and prospecting. You know – the activities that actually generate revenue. The whole reason why you hired your sales reps to begin with.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could give your reps the work that only humans can do – and hand off the boring, administrative, technical stuff?
Fortunately, now there is.
AI to the Rescue
Imagine if you had an AI-powered sales assistant that worked alongside your SDRs to offload many of the manual, repetitive and error-prone tasks associated with engaging and communicating with leads.
An autonomous sales rep does just that. It helps companies find and secure customers faster and more efficiently by automatically contacting, engaging, qualifying and following up with leads using natural, human-like, two-way conversations.
Your AI rep works according to your sales playbook. The playbook can be automatically inferred from previous interactions between human reps or pre-configured manually. To put together a manual playbook, ask yourself the question: what training would you give to a new rep that just joined your team? How would you define a qualified lead, describe how to communicate and explain objection handling?.
Once the playbook is loaded, the autonomous rep is ready to go. Just like a human rep that gets better with experience, an AI rep improves through machine learning. As the sales rep starts working, it learns from the human reps’ feedback loop as well as the responses it receives from leads.
Once a lead is qualified and ready to talk to a human, the AI rep brings the human rep into the picture.
Teamwork to the Max
When AI sales reps join human sales reps, everybody wins.
Your sales reps have only so much time. They need to prioritize which leads get outreach and follow-up communications. Some prospects will slip through the cracks; others will be intentionally crossed off the list in favor of other, more promising leads. But what if you could reach everyone – without taking up more of your reps’ time? When you add AI autonomous reps to your team, they make sure no potential opportunity is lost.
In sales, you have to “follow up while the iron is hot.” Timely engagement is key to driving home the sale. As with prospect outreach, your reps have to make the best decisions with their limited amount of time regarding who and how to follow up. Imagine being able to hand off the follow-up to your autonomous rep. You’d be sure that your hot prospect would be engaged before he’s had time to cool off.
Maximum marketing investment
Increase that percentage of time that your sales rep is engaged in revenue-generating activities from 35.2% to something much higher. You hired a sales rep so she could sell. Let the autonomous rep take the admin off her human hands so your reps are free to do what they do best.
Maximum employee satisfaction
Your sales rep signed up to be a sales rep, not an administrative assistant. Sure, if it’s part of the job, she’ll do it, but… imagine if you could take that off her plate and enable her to do the work that counts. Let the AI rep do the boring stuff, and let your human sales rep work with strategy, creativity, and personality.
See it in Action
Usually, you can find autonomous reps interacting with leads through email or chat. And not just leads: they can interact with existing customers, old prospects, free trials and other customer groups, each with its own playbook.
Want to meet one and see what it does? For sure! We’ll introduce you:
Assist and Respond
Based on the playbook, the AI rep answers questions, handles objections and responds to requests such as “send me a case study” or “what’s your pricing?”.
The AI rep will qualify leads based on your playbook, asking relevant questions based on what you already know or do not know about that lead.
If the leads come from a small company, for example, and you sell software that is aimed at companies with a high volume of transactions, you might want to make sure there is a good fit at the outset by asking a very specific question such as “how many transactions are you planning per year?” Based on the response, the AI rep will know what to do next.
Handover to a Rep
Once the lead is qualified, the AI rep will seamlessly hand the lead to your sales reps for closing by connecting to the rep’s calendar and facilitating the scheduling of a meeting.
Sometimes the prospect is not ready quite yet. The AI rep intelligently nurtures leads with content and follow-ups to guide them through the funnel.
For example, if a lead indicates he is early in the journey and asks to be contacted at a later date, the AI rep will know when to re-engage and nurture the lead in the interim with relevant content.
Every week I interview entrepreneurs and experts from around the world to share their big idea about new forms of value creation and the potential we can unlock when technology augments the unique strengths of people to deliver remarkable impact.
Creating a Sales Machine
Hand in Hand
Two parties – one human, one AI – each doing what they do best to close the deal. That’s what we call at exceed.ai maximizing the power of your sales team.
Give each other a high five!
Well, a virtual high five.
There ARE some things that artificial intelligence still can’t do.
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