How AI and Automation Can Boost a Sales Team
Two of the most important factors in the ongoing digital transformation of the modern marketplace are artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. AI-powered tools and a vast range of automations have fundamentally changed the ways that entire businesses from every industry and market sector carry out everyday tasks, and it’s increasingly urgent for business leaders to adapt to these changes. The ones who get out front of automation and AI transformation will have the biggest advantages in the near future of the digital economy, having leveraged early on the many uses of groundbreaking technology like the time-aware CRM tools provided by SugarCRM.
Here, we’ll have a look at the overall benefits that automations and AI-powered solutions can provide for sales teams and some of the stand-out ways in which SugarCRM’s tools — augmented by the new high-definition customer experience (HD-CX) standard — can help you to realize those benefits.
AI Adoption’s Effects on Sales
The precise effects of AI on a business will depend a lot on its specific model, the scale at which implementation is possible and the amount of real support and buy-in it has in the company’s overall culture. Overall, though, adopting AI and doing it right tends to yield the following benefits for a sales team:
1. An Increase in Leads
Adoption of AI and automated tools in sales is disproportionate — almost half of the people who work in sales still don’t use technology to help them with lead generation, and as many of 47% of sales professionals rely most on self-generated leads instead. Sales teams who adopt AI enjoy far greater efficiency in this process, increasing their leads and appointments by around 50%. Machine learning makes this possible by helping with the most time-consuming part of the process: prospect qualification, nurturing and maintaining those relationships.
2. More Time to Focus on Selling
Despite how crucial the role of a sales team is to the success of a business, many companies’ sales reps are only able to devote around 25% of their time to the core task of actually selling. Businesses that choose to focus on adopting AI to cut down on non-sales time have been able to do so by over 60%. Intelligent tools automate and facilitate follow-up with customer questions and CRM database updates without the sales team having to do it directly.
3. Better Customer Engagement
The more insight a sales team has into the customer, the better they can understand their needs and priorities, then the better-positioned they are to build a relationship of trust and to encourage brand loyalty. According to the LinkedIn State of Sales Report, just under 90% of buyers described their sales rep as a “trusted advisor.” On the other hand, only 40% of consumers think of the sales profession overall as trustworthy.
With AI tools in place, it becomes far easier for sales teams to close the gap and become a trusted advisor in their customers’ minds. Sales intelligence puts the necessary information at a sales rep’s fingertips, making it easier to personalize the experience and build the relationships that convert leads into paying customers. Plus, these high-quality tools will also score and highlight accounts according to their highest potential to close, making it possible for teams to focus on the prospects with the highest potential.
4. Quality Forecasting
Sales forecasting is the key to setting expectations for hiring and payroll, and accurate forecasting is important to a business’ credibility. Given a strong data set, AI tools like SugarPredict can provide a real-time insight into the health of the full range of deals in a company’s pipeline and predict possible deals. Such tools can help the leaders of a sales team know which deals are most critical for the investment of time and energy. They can score deals and fine-tune access to historical data—an innovation that has been key to making SugarCRM’s products successful.
5. More Efficient and Targeted Training
Real-time insight into the health of a sales pipeline makes it easier to manage teams and identify their strengths and weaknesses. The better the data set an AI tool is working with, the more accurate and objective its picture of the team’s strengths (and weaknesses) becomes. Team leaders can individualize training to develop each rep’s specific talents, motivating them and improving their productivity. Ultimately, they will be able to deliver a sales process that aligns with their customers’ needs and values.
Game-Changing Automations for Sales Teams
When looking for examples of how automation tools can be life-changing for a sales team, it can be useful to consider Sugar Sell. Sugar Sell’s automation capabilities are an example of the best ways to support sales through digital tools that carry out repetitive tasks and free reps up to address their core responsibilities. These features include:
1. Relationship Intelligence
Sugar Hint is a good example of an automated relationship intelligence tool, designed to provide a broad view of customers from a wide range of sources, starting from the most basic contact information. Outsourcing research and data industry that would otherwise need to be done manually pays serious dividends for the focused time of a sales team. Real-time alerts and automatic data updates are key functions in the delivery of these benefits.
2. Automated Workflows
It’s a powerful advantage to be able to map out and visualize the customer’s journey, tracking the progress of a prospect through phases like evaluation, selection, purchasing and onboarding. Workflow automation enables a team to coordinate its efforts, making sure everyone is working toward the same objectives at the right times and automating processes that improve customer experience and satisfaction. Complex customer-facing processes can be automated with a tool like SugarBPM.
3. Enhancing the Benefits of Email
According to the LinkedIn State of Sales Report, more than half of sales professionals have found themselves sending more email than ever before, and it’s more crucial than ever to get the most out of email communication. Automated calendar tracking, the ability to manage tasks and track cases, and opportunities from inside your email are all among the benefits of an advanced email management tool like Sugar Connect.
4. Task-Specific Automations
Not all sales intelligence packages provide ways to automate very specific kinds of processes like subscription management. Taking automations for subscription-based business as an example, a high-quality tool like Sugar Sell’s Renewals Console makes it easy to track the full range of customer data associated with a subscription, keep track of duration-based products and services, and automatically build renewal pipelines. These features help sales teams proactively engage with renewal opportunities.
SugarCRM, HD-CX and the Future of Sales AI & Automation
The creation of the time-aware CX platform was a major step forward in providing businesses with access to the full historical context of their customers and interactions. That kind of functionality made it possible for SugarCRM customers to make informed decisions about the future and to support teams with accurate real-time data in the present, saving them time, money, and frustration. This enables organizations to compete in the agile modern workplace. In the ways we’ve already outlined above, sales teams have benefited in all sorts of ways from this kind of platform and the insight and information it can deliver.
The time-aware paradigm’s insights into the past are now being expanded, culminating in the hyper-accurate forecasting made possible by a new standard called HD-CX, the High-Definition Customer Experience. HD-CX enables what one might think of as high-fidelity: It makes it possible to have a comprehensive view of the customer journey to this point and extend analysis beyond internal data. HD-CX tools seek out insights into a prospect’s journey and allow companies to invest resources and set targets for sales teams based on data to determine priorities.
Sales forecasting is not a new phenomenon in itself. The difference here is that with the aid of proprietary technologies and its own particular approach—SugarCRM’s HD-CX standard sets itself apart with the sheer accuracy its forecasting model makes possible. With HD-CX, the fully realized time-aware CX model stands ready to usher in a new era of AI and sales powered by automation.