Mark my words – professionals in the Sales and Marketing (SaM) sector who have not yet explored the boundless opportunities on offer from artificial intelligence (AI) risk being left behind.
According to recent research, two in five (40%) marketing and sales teams already recognise the importance of AI, and in particular machine learning – a subset of AI – in ensuring they are able to pursue and accomplish their growth targets. This is impressive given AI has only just recently stepped into the limelight.
With AI being a relatively new consideration for non-tech businesses, it is natural for many business leaders in this space to be unaware of the practical ways such toolsets can support their daily operations and reduce costs. Of course, the realm of AI can initially seem overwhelming for those who only have a surface level understanding of the different toolsets that exist.
So, in what ways can AI can make a significant difference to the working lives of professionals in the SaM sector?
Leaving the automation to AI
Where AI really excels is in its ability to empower people to work faster and smarter. This is an important point to keep in mind – rather than replacing human sales and marketing professionals, AI toolsets are instead employed to augment their performance.
How exactly is this accomplished? All through the ability of AI algorithms to process and analyse huge stores of data, extract the most important information, and effortlessly discard anything irrelevant. In fact, according to The McKinsey Global Institute, 40% of tasks completed as part of traditional sales functions can be automated; this means sales reps could have much more time and resource to focus on value-adding activities, such as making strategic decisions, coordinating marketing projects and leading sales campaigns.
Personalised and tailored leads
While it might seem counterintuitive, AI’s automating capabilities are also useful when it comes to adding a personal touch to the customer experience. This could be through more targeted product offers, or simply more personalised content that effectively meets the evolving needs of the market. It’s no surprise then that over half (56.5%) of US CMOs are using AI in marketing for the purpose of content personalisation, while 40.9% are using this technology for customer segmentation. That’s according to research by Marketing Charts.
Let’s take a look at how this might work in practice. In order to launch and drive an effective marketing campaign, companies need to create an in-depth profile of their target customer(s). With its ability to pull and analyse huge volumes of data, from customers’ behavioural patterns to previous interactions between the two parties, AI can give SaM teams detailed insights that would often take many hours to compile. These insights can then be used to perform customer segmentation, whether it be providing customised offers that appeal to the specific interests of each individual client to hyper-personalising the overall customer journey.
Helping teams secure leads
When it comes to direct sales, AI is also a saving grace. Instead of sales reps having to waste countless hours trawling through social media profiles and the company pages of potential leads, AI solutions can do the job for them. What’s more, it can be done much faster, and much more effectively.
For one, AI toolsets can scan large datasets from multiple sources in order to suggest lead prioritisation based on an assigned score, helping professionals focus their time and energy on prospects near the so-called closing stage of a sales process. AI toolsets may also be used to predict which existing customers have more chance of buying a better product (up-selling), or a new product (cross-selling), by using historical data of customer behaviour and comparing it to the data of those with a similar profile who have purchased better or new products.
The main point to take away is that sales and marketing teams will be better equipped to orchestrate coordinated and effective campaigns by leveraging AI to their advantage. That’s why business leaders looking to update and enhance their SaM teams need to start exploring the different available applications of this technology, and how it can be used to drive more meaningful customer engagement, and in doing so, increase revenue and company growth.
"Where AI really excels is in its ability to empower people to work faster and smarter. Rather than replacing sales and marketing professionals, AI toolsets are employed to augment their performance."