November 30th, 2022, a new era commenced. ChatGPT was launched into our world. With a record-breaking adoption rate in the history of the tech industry, the chatbot crossed 100 million users by February 2023. The fate of the future of mankind was sealed, and businesses were excited to harness this new power. 

This year, 77% of companies have reported either using or exploring the use of AI. It’s clear that AI is already a fabric of the present reality for businesses. From seamless customer service interactions to advanced cybersecurity measures, AI is driving business success in practically every function! 

In this article, we will focus particularly on how startups can use AI in sales to enhance their growth.

What is AI in Sales?

Right now, sales teams spend just 28% of their time actually selling. The rest is bogged down in admin tasks. Enter AI in Sales: imagine your sales team having a super-smart assistant that automates all those time-consuming tasks like updating CRMs, keeping track of contacts; tapping into tons of valuable data that used to get lost in the chaos of spreadsheets and sticky notes, and hands them this goldmine of information. That’s what AI in sales is about! 

Hubspot’s State of AI Report 2023 reveals that 35% of sales professionals are utilizing AI to automate manual tasks, streamlining their workflows and increasing efficiency. 34% of salespeople are harnessing AI for its data-driven insights, drawing the power of analytics to guide their strategies. And 31% are employing AI to craft sales content or prospect outreach messages.

Graph showing what salespeople use AI automation for

Source

Ways AI can Enhance the Sales Cycle for Your Startup

The sales cycle is a common blueprint most companies use in one form or the other. Traditionally, this process encompasses several stages that take you from identifying customers to turning them into loyal customers, each with its own set of strategies and challenges. AI, with its incredible advancements, can revolutionize your sales cycle at every junction. Here’s a simple breakdown of how: 

Finding Leads:

AI algorithms are a powerhouse when it comes to sorting through massive datasets. By using it to analyze patterns in data, AI can help you pinpoint prospects who are more likely to engage and convert, streamlining the lead generation process significantly. This not only optimizes the search for new customers but also ensures that the sales team’s efforts are focused and effective, increasing the likelihood of successful outreach. For example: Hubspot offers a predictive scoring tool that uses AI to identify high-quality leads based on pre-defined criteria.

Connecting with Leads:

In the initial stages of contact, AI-driven tools like chatbots and virtual assistants can easily come into play. These tools are designed to understand and adapt to customer behaviour and preferences. This personalized approach in the early stages of engagement helps establish a strong foundation for the relationship, making initial interactions more impactful and fruitful, setting the stage for a more receptive audience. For example: Drift is an AI-enhanced conversational platform that boosts personalization and sales efficiency. It offers real-time insights and AI-powered engagement scoring for prioritizing customer interactions.

Qualifying Leads:

Qualifying leads is all about understanding who’s ready to buy and who needs more nurturing. AI excels in this by analyzing lead interactions, responses to marketing materials, and their overall engagement level. Tools like AI-driven email platforms can tailor content to individual prospects, gauge their interest levels, and help in adjusting sales tactics accordingly, including dynamic pricing strategies. Tools like people.ai help sales teams make informed decisions, and qualify and de-risk their pipelines.

Content Creation:

With tools like ChatGPT, and Hippo Video, sales teams are now empowered to generate engaging and personalized sales content quickly. These AI-driven tools assist in creating tailored messages, sales collateral, and even repurposing content for different platforms and audiences!

Closing the Deal:

As the sales cycle nears its culmination, AI’s role becomes more crucial. Its ability to forecast sales with high accuracy ensures that the right products or services are available at the right time. This readiness is key in facilitating a smooth transition from negotiation to deal closure, ensuring that logistical or inventory issues don’t derail the final agreement. For example: Gong‘s revenue intelligence platform transforms customer interactions into actionable insights, offering comprehensive visibility into market trends, deals, and sales performance. Super unique tools like Dialpad provide real-time assistance to sales teams by connecting reps with live recommendations, scripts, and AI coaching with sentiment analysis.

Nurturing New Customers:

As we all know, the relationship with a customer doesn’t end with a closed sale; it’s just the beginning. AI can continue to play a role in nurturing these new relationships. By keeping the CRM constantly updated with the latest interactions, preferences, and feedback, AI helps in maintaining a comprehensive view of the customer. This ongoing insight is crucial for providing continued support, identifying upsell opportunities, and maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction, which is essential for long-term loyalty and retention. Salesforce’s  Einstein GPT, Pipedrive’s Sales Assistant, and Freshworks’ Freddy AI are all excellent examples of end-to-end CRMs that have become pivotal to sales teams building loyal customer bases.

AI is Increasing Sales, the Proof is in the Numbers!

There’s growing evidence that AI is significantly boosting sales:

  • According to Hubspot, 61% of sales teams surpassing their revenue targets are using automation in their processes.
  • The Hinge Research Institute found that high-growth companies are more likely to have mature marketing and sales automation strategies than their peers.
  • McKinsey’s research suggests that around 30% of sales tasks could be automated with current technology, including AI.
  • For more than half of salespeople, sales forecasts are the most crucial insights obtained from their analytics tools.
  • A study from the Harvard Business Review found that using AI has a number of effects on the sales that a company can generate:
    • Companies that used AI tools when making sales increased lead generation by 50%.
    • Call times by sales reps using AI were reduced by up to 70%.
    • Companies saw a reduction in overall costs by up to 60% when they implemented AI technologies into their sales process.

This is just the beginning of AI in business, startups that embrace AI in their strategies early on are likely to see significant advantages in the market, as the technology continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

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