Artificial intelligence has the potential to unlock up to $2.6 trillion in business value in sales and marketing, according to McKinsey. That’s because AI is producing real results for sales organizations, which is driving industry adoption.
High-performing sales teams are 4.9X more likely to use AI than underperforming ones, according to Salesforce’s latest State of Sales report. And sales leaders expect AI adoption in their organizations to grow faster than any other technology. (The report surveyed 2,900 sales pros.)
I started Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute in 2016 to track this dramatic industry transformation. Since that time, we’ve interviewed and written spotlights on more than 45 AI-powered vendors with more than $1 billion in total funding. We’re also tracking more than 1,100 sales and marketing AI companies with combined funding north of $5 billion.
In the process, we’ve found that the best way to better understand AI’s real-world impact on sales and marketing is by exploring actual use cases for the technology.
Today, there are several compelling use cases for AI in sales—all of which can help salespeople increase revenue and reduce costs.
1. Predictive Forecasting
Artificial intelligence systems exist that can predict or forecast outcomes using historical data to inform future results. These types of predictions include:
- Which deals or prospects are most likely to close.
- Which deals or prospects you should target next.
- New customers who may be interested in what you’re selling
Prediction accuracy completely depends on the models AI tools are using. And you’ll need high-quality, clean data to inform those predictions. But, done right, predictive forecasting systems can analyze data and extract insights from it at scale. Using these insights, salespeople can actually predict which prospects are most likely to close, which gives firms immediate revenue opportunities upon adoption.
And predictive forecasting doesn’t just apply to winning new business. You can also leverage it to forecast (and improve) team performance and productivity.
2. Lead Scoring and Prioritization
When salespeople manually create lead scoring and prioritization systems, they rely entirely on human judgment. That judgment is sometimes sound. But other times, it’s biased, based on gut instinct, or informed by incomplete information.
However, AI-powered lead scoring and prioritization has the ability to leverage historical data at scale to provide more accurate predictions about what scoring and prioritization frameworks work best. Unlike standard automation software, AI systems that use true machine learning then improve their scoring and prioritization frameworks over time, without human intervention.
Lead scoring and prioritization that dynamically updates over time, at speed and at scale.
3. Expert Recommendations
We’ve discussed how AI has the potential to forecast and score/prioritize leads better than humans. Some systems can even recommend actions, too.
AI systems can leverage your existing data to suggest things like when to follow-up, when a prospect might need additional touchpoints, how to price a deal, who to target with certain promotions, and even who’s most likely to respond to an upsell or cross-sell.
These capabilities are all based on AI’s ability to extract insights from your data, then make predictions with a high degree of accuracy. Humans may be able to make similar recommendations, but lack the speed, scale and accuracy of the most advanced AI systems available today.
What Does This Mean for Salespeople?
You’ll notice that none of these use cases automate away a salesperson’s job. In fact, top AI tools augment salespeople, freeing them up to do more of what they’re best at. But that’s only if sales leaders step up to the plate.
We are in the infancy of AI adoption as an industry. You and your organization have the opportunity now to be proactive in advancing knowledge and capabilities before your competitors beat you to it.
But just because it’s early days doesn’t mean you can get complacent. As those Salesforce State of Sales numbers show, high-performing teams are almost 5X more likely to use AI than underperforming ones.
The firms that fully integrate AI now unlock a potentially insurmountable competitive advantage, as the AI systems they adopt continuously learn and improve, boosting revenue and cutting costs in a continuous cycle.
You can learn more about AI for sales here.