AI – Artificial Intelligence is the golden term of the century. The concept was prevalent not just from the last century but traces back to the era of the ancient Greeks. The story of Talos/Talon – a mechanical, self – moving robot guardian who protected Lady Creta on a lone island is a prime example. It is always the free will and imagination by man that led to each ground-breaking invention. Except the discovery of fire, from the invention of the wheel, they are all result of the free thoughts of man.
AI is one such concept – a concept that was considered an impossibility till 6 decades ago. The stories people hear as children made them wonder as adults – if that is possible and the ones skilful enough are making it all a reality. After the introduction of Turing’s Algorithm and Tests, it became an area that enticed every computer geek and here in the 21 st century, countries are welcoming artificial robots and giving them citizenship! Well the field has widened and more and more applications are finding its way for the machines that are “trained to think and respond” like humans.
From chat-bots to moving machines that respond with actions and tasks (even converse almost like a human – Sophia for e.g.) – AI has come a long way. Even some of the jobs are now becoming much easier with the advent of AI in multiple industries. Healthcare, military, automotive, finance and economics – the influence of AI is very evident. There are still a few domains which are not yet influenced by AI and Business Development / Sales “was” one among them – till recently.
In business and sales, AI serves a singular purpose, sorting, analysing and processing data. Automation of data related processes in various aspects of sales has enabled a huge increase in productivity as well as the introduction of several sub-verticals to effectively conduct business.
One advantage in using AI for sales is the idea of increasing productivity without investing much in for additional workforce. This is achieved through the use of virtual sales assistants. These assistants or programs can make use of sales data to generate leads and then contact the leads through emails. Technologies such as natural language processing and natural language generation have played a huge role in defining virtual sales assistants.
Predictive analytics have enabled businesses to effectively automate processes such as lead generation. The amount of accuracy, as well as the details offered by the use of AI, have enabled sales representatives to improve their efficiency by large margins and also make the most of the data provided to them.
CRM is an intricate part of sales that uses a great deal of information on customers. This process governs both the possibility of new customers as well the prospect of retaining current ones. While in the past a lot of effort has been put into gathering information on clients, it has not been quite enough and relied purely upon the wits and talent of the sales representative. Today however with AI in the picture, we are able to gather vital data that can be used to enhance the entire process and so far it has been working out quite well.
Customer Service is a territory where AI has been almost creating miracles for companies large and small alike. There is a lot that artificial intelligence has to offer to various customer service processes. Both on the B2C as well as the B2B fronts AI has been able to engage with the customer on a much deeper level than ever before. Using the advanced technologies available today, devices such as Amazon’s Echo have been able to reach out to customers on a personal level, understanding their preferences and programming themselves to them. Through machine learning, these devices are capable of answer more complex queries as well as predict other probabilities. The use of chat-bots is also something that has enhanced the customer service experience.
However every new idea brings with them concerns of their own. Will AI based automation in sales cause sales representatives to lose their jobs?
At this point, the answer is ‘NO’. The use of automation in sales could actually decrease the workload for sales reps. Many hours they spend on market research and data collection once automated could allow them to focus more on lead conversion. Even with automation of leads conversion processes, salespersons will still need to fulfil the managerial and supervisory roles. While minor layoffs owing to the redundancy of certain human roles are inevitable, there is no end in sight as of now for sales reps. Also most customers still, prefer the ‘human touch’ with such processes. No bot can be trained to be cent per cent humane. Even if a person chats with a chat-bot they will not be as satisfied and at the end contact a REAL person for related advice.
So my fellow salespeople your jobs are secure for years to come!
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