Untitled presentation (1)

AI for Sales - Enhanced Data Collection

Authored by Ric Ratkowski on February 27, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An accurate sales forecast requires a crystal clean sales pipeline.  A crystal clean sales pipeline requires a deep history on most buyer/seller interactions for each opportunity.  By having a deep history of these interactions you can apply AI to identify buyer patterns and better guide the sales process.   Unfortunately most sales organizations do not have enough information about each opportunity to apply AI to assist in the sales process.

Gartner calls this out as one of the impactsin their research “Optimize Sales Execution With Artificial Intelligence for Guided Selling, 2019” by stating:

“AI functionality requires that selling organizations improve the quality of their sales data before introducing new forms for guided selling to their companies”

Enhanced data collection is foundational for both the sales process in general and when applying AI to the sales process.

The Current CRM/Sales Rep Environment

The current environment between the sales rep and there CRM solution reminds me of the quote: “the beatings will continue until morale improves”. The current environment is doomed to failure. It is manually intensive. Updating the CRM system by the sales reps is done at the expense time they can be in front of the customer selling.  In the current environment, there is nothing in it for the sales reps to keep their CRM system up to date, no incentive. They update the CRM system so they can be micromanaged by their managers.  Ultimately, even if they do religiously update their CRM system, their updates are biased by a “happy ears” vs “sandbagger” disposition.

The Solution

The solution is to have a system to collect all the buyer/seller interactions as a by-product of what the sales rep does.  It needs to work where the sales rep works, in their email, calendar and on their phone.

The collection of email content and calendar information is accomplished via an addin in the email/calendar agent.  The addin:

  • Automatically collects emails relating to opportunities and aligns them with the opportunity.

  • Automatically collects meeting from the sales rep calendar and align them with the opportunity.

  • Allows the sales rep to do most of their work through the addin.

  • Provide a mobile interface so sales reps can work anywhere, managing their alerts, dictating meeting updates and status to update the opportunity.

Three AI Use Cases

Although the data collection of email and calendar seem like a mechanical data integration problem, AI can help align and interpret the data.

The first use case of AI for the Automated CRM Data Collection can be thought of as an extension of what was mentioned in the previous blog, “algorithms to match multiple email domains and sources of information to specific leads and matching leads to companies and opportunities”.  This is an area where typical CRM applications falls apart.  You may have, ten, twenty or thirty leads in your CRM application from a company as the result of downloading material and registering on your website.  However once an opportunity is created and a lead is converted to a contact, you lose all the interactions. The process for converting all leads to contacts is very mechanical, time consuming and detaches all the lead activity when creating a contact.  This is where AI is applied to understand all of a companies email domains and loosely connect all the leads to the opportunity.

AI For Sales - Email Integration

The above screen highlights an add-in for GMail that flags all emails from prospects and provides an dialog box (circled in red) allowing the sales rep to take action on the account from within email.

The second use case of AI can be applied once the first use case completed. The second use case uses patterns in history of closed-won opportunities to define the roles of a typical buying team and then applying those roles against the current opportunity leads and contacts to understand who should be pulled into meetings and be part of the team.  This helps streamline the sales process by getting everybody in the room to make a decision as soon as possible.

The third use case of AI is designed to create an unbiased interpretation of the emails and calendar items by understanding the positive or negative nature of the interaction.  It requires a lexicon of positive and negative sales terms used in conjunction with Natural Language Processing[NLP] to rank the sentiment of an interaction.  Further AI is used to refine the lexicon by allowing sales reps to rate the emails and calendar items with a simple measure of thumbs up or thumbs down and interpret their input to update the lexicon.  Further refinement could also be applied by looking at the sales rep rank (another topic for AI) and ranking the ratings higher from more experienced sales reps.

In Summary

An internal study found implementing these three use cases increased both the quantity and quality of sales data by 400%.  

Check out this link to see these three use cases can be addressed with software.

Fourth in a blog series on “AI For Sales”

This is the fourth blog in the series.  

The first blog: Artificial Intelligence [AI] For Sales Forecasting

The second blog: AI for Sales - AI/Machine Learning Primer for Sales

The third blog:  AI for Sales - In the Marketing Funnel

The next blog will be on: AI in the sales pipeline to provide insight and recommendations into the buyer/seller journey to guide winning strategies

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Leverage these best practices with automation and AI driven by TopOPPS

Learn how our customers are winning with artificial intelligence in their CRM:

  • Predictive Sales Forecasting
  • Automated Pipeline Management
  • Significantly More Updates from Reps

Watch Videos

More Recent Posts:

August 16, 2019

AI For Sales - Business Examples

                The last seven blogs provide a business-case approach to infusing AI through the entire sales process.  One of the purposes of this blog series was to demystify AI by using AI for Sales as an  example.  Media tends to portray AI as a magic bullet.  Actual implementations show the less “black box” an AI solution is and the more “glass box” approach, the more utility it provides to the user.  The utility is created by uncovering the key drivers of an outcome and managing those drivers to increase results. ...

Sales Operations, Sales Tools, Sales Pipeline Management, AI for Sales

August 6, 2019

TopOPPS + Outreach Galaxy: AI Enhanced Guided Selling to Increase Win Rates

                  Ever had the situation where: an important sales opportunity is in danger because of inactivity and it goes unnoticed; the opportunity is sold but they don’t have the budget till next quarter so the sales rep needs to “stay close”; or the opportunity wants to buy but “isn’t there yet” and needs further ongoing education?   ...

Pipeline Optimization, Artificial Intelligence, Sales Pipeline Management, Guided Selling, guide winning behaviors

July 22, 2019

AI for Sales - Calculating the Sales Forecast

                  I mentioned in my first blog on AI for Sales, when you hear the phrase “AI for sales forecasting” it feels like the solution is an algorithm to predict “the sales number”.  This is only partially correct.  While the ultimate goal is an accurate sales forecast, AI for sales forecasting requires artificial intelligence to be infused throughout the entire sales process.   The last 6 blogs have walked through different AI use cases for each of the different areas supporting the sales process to build a foundation for applying AI to create a more accurate sales forecast.  With that background we are ready to review AI use cases for calculating different versions of the sales forecast. ...

Pipeline Optimization, Artificial Intelligence, Sales Pipeline Management, AI for Sales

June 5, 2019

AI for Sales - Sales Pipeline Management and Sales Rep Coaching

                  This is the second of two blogs reviewing artificial intelligence use cases to support sales pipeline accuracy.    The first blog focused on artificial intelligence for guided selling. Guided selling is key to maintaining a realistic sales pipeline by ensuring that sales team rigor, discipline and process are consistent across all opportunities. This blog focuses on sales pipeline management and sales rep coaching.  It includes tools to help: ...

Pipeline Optimization, Artificial Intelligence, Sales Pipeline Management, AI for Sales

April 16, 2019

AI for Sales - Guided Selling

              The next two blogs cover AI for the sales pipeline.  This blog focuses on AI for guided selling.  Guided selling is the process of prescribing optimal sales execution steps to the sales reps to enforce an efficient sales process.  The tasks and process are based on sales patterns of past close-won, and close-lost opportunities.  Guided selling is key to maintaining a realistic sales pipeline. ...

Artificial Intelligence, Sales Pipeline Management, AI for Sales, Sales Enablement

February 27, 2019

AI for Sales - Enhanced Data Collection

                  An accurate sales forecast requires a crystal clean sales pipeline.  A crystal clean sales pipeline requires a deep history on most buyer/seller interactions for each opportunity.  By having a deep history of these interactions you can apply AI to identify buyer patterns and better guide the sales process.   Unfortunately most sales organizations do not have enough information about each opportunity to apply AI to assist in the sales process. ...

Sales Automation, Sales Tools, AI, Artificial Intelligence, AI for Sales

January 25, 2019

AI for Sales - In the Marketing Funnel

                  The topic of artificial intelligence [AI] for Marketing covers many different areas including content delivery, content generation, social media, personalizing emails, attribution, and optimizing lead gen, just to name a few.  This blog focuses on applying AI in the marketing funnel for optimizing lead gen and marketing attribution[MTA].  ...

Sales Tools, AI, Artificial Intelligence, Marketing Funnel, AI for Sales

January 9, 2019

AI for Sales - AI/Machine Learning Primer for Sales

                I had planned my blog “AI for Sales - In the Marketing Funnel” to be posted  before now.  It was a challenge writing it because I had to include terminology and background in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Advanced Analytics, to set the right perspective. This blog takes on the task of trying to level set around terms and characteristics of Artificial Intelligence(AI) and Machine Learning(ML).  My next blog, [in two weeks] will discuss the AI for the marketing funnel. ...

Sales Tools, AI, Artificial Intelligence, AI for Sales