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Wearing a Sales Hat? Here is Why You Need AI

In the customer experience (CX) world, we hear regularly about how AI is helping companies better serve their customers. We don’t hear as much about how it helps them sell to their customers.

AI for sales is poised to explode – for good reason.

Perhaps the most compelling reason is illustrated in the actual success metrics from Metrigy’s recently released AI for Business Success 2023-24 global research study of 697 companies. Among the 34% of companies using agent assist, 54.1% cited sales increase as a benefit provided by AI. Those companies using agent assist saw a 35.6% boost in sales – not too shabby. What’s more, 70.4% of our research success group (those with higher-than-average business metric improvements through the use of AI) said agent assist increases sales, versus only 47.9% of the non-success group.

Yes, agent assist also improves customer satisfaction scores, slows agent attrition, and reduces average handle time. But actually attributing sales increases to AI? That’s golden.

AI’s adoption in outbound contact centers or even with outside sales teams makes sense. But its use is now spreading to less likely places.

The use of AI is especially fruitful in traditional inbound contact centers where customer service representatives at 54% of companies now must adhere to upsell sales quotas, along with their service key performance indicators (KPIs). Indeed, customer service agents’ jobs are getting harder with bots handling the easy questions, so one way agents can increase their income is through earning previously unavailable sales commissions. AI simply makes this plausible now.


How Companies Use AI for Sales and Service Teams

Here are just a few ways business leaders, along with the frontline agents and sales teams, are using and finding value in AI when it comes to sales.

  • Delivering real-time recommendations: 3% of companies say generative AI is “extremely valuable” in providing recommendations for salespeople during calls with prospective customers or for upsell with existing customers.
  • Generating sales proposals: 6% of companies say generative AI is “extremely valuable” for generating sales proposals. One research participant, a global engineering firm, said the company’s inside sales people are saving 60% of their time by using generative AI to create sales proposals. The reps then backfill the generative AI creation at a fraction of the time compared to starting with a template.
  • Providing agents advice to meet sales quotas: 5% of companies cite this as one way AI augments staffing in the contact center. AI can help more broadly in training, using natural language processing, sentiment analysis, and actual sales close rate correlations to deliver advice on what to say or not to say, when to ask for a sale, and other pieces of advice. AI also can provide in-the-moment suggestions on offers to make to customers, based on their buying history or purchases other customers with similar characteristics made.
    I’ll dive into the impact of AI on agent assist for sales functions at Enterprise Connect at 3 pm ET on Tuesday, March 26 in this session, “Agent Assist and Virtual Assistants: How Are Companies Supercharging Their Agents?
  • Leveraging Voice of the Customer data: Among the 69.2% of companies that act on their Voice of the Customer feedback, 45.1% of them use the information to adjust sales strategies. AI plays a role here for 53.7% of companies by reading, classifying, and summarizing open-ended feedback from customers.


Sales Management Boost

The benefits of AI in sales extend into management, as well. At a basic level, sales managers can use AI to identify and analyze trends, levels of engagement, interaction details, and the impact of macro-economic issues to the trends.

Based on those findings, they can more accurately predict revenue gains and shortfalls for the month, quarter, or year. When trouble is spotted, they can take action early to hedge any anticipated revenue shortfalls.

From a sales team perspective, AI can help managers to coach staffers by identifying the behavioral difference between the top- and bottom-performing salespeople (or service representatives who also have sales responsibilities). With that information, managers can then coach lower-performing representatives to adopt the successful practices of top performers.

Even more granularly, sales managers can rely on AI to highlight the most- and least-promising opportunities in the sales pipeline. Human emotion may get the best of some sales reps, who connect personally with a prospect and thus think they will close that sale. However, assistive AI tools listening and observing without that human connection may assess the conversation and conclude that there are no buying signs and the reps are wasting time on that particular prospect. Over time, sales success metrics will reveal how often human intuition is superior to AI’s straight-forward data approach.

Those not evaluating AI for obvious—and not-so-obvious—applications in the contact center, in the frontline, and within sales teams are missing an opportunity to accelerate revenue growth. Based on our research, now is definitely the time to evaluate how AI can help drive sales.

Robin Gareiss will be in the Agent Assist and Virtual Assistants: How Are Companies Supercharging Their Agents? session on Tuesday, March 26, at 3 pm. See you there!

Enterprise Connect 2024 will be held at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, FL, from March 25-28. Preview the conference schedule or register to attend. To keep on top of all Enterprise Connect developments, subscribe to the weekly newsletter.