It’s time to sharpen your sales tools.
Every salesperson in their right mind wants to grab every possible tool to accelerate account based sales development, look smarter, shorten prospecting time, and score meetings with decision-makers. But some tools are sharper than others. If it takes eight to 12 touches to reach a prospect, that tool is too dull.
Digital tools are everywhere for account based selling, and each promises the same things—to shorten your sales process, deliver just-in-time insights, identify trigger events, and automate everything (well, almost everything). Artificial intelligence is the perfect account based sales development tool, or is it?
The short answer: It all depends on how you use it.
What AI Can—and Can’t—Do for Account Based Selling
It’s finally about to happen. What “they” have been predicting for years is now upon us. With the introduction of AI sales technology, computers will soon replace salespeople.
George Bronten of Membrain explains why AI is not a fix for what’s wrong with your sales department in his post, “Sorry, but AI Is Not Going to Do What You Think It Is.”
Despite the big hype around AI in the sales space, most AI extensions of today are really just glorified data parsing and notifications engines. Its claim to be “artificial intelligence” lies in the fact that you don’t have to pre-program your preferences in advance, as the system will, to some extent, learn from your preferences as you go. Functions include notifying salespeople when a certain number of days have passed since they contacted a prospect, scoring leads based on data in the system, automatically import your email and calendar entries into the CRM and let salespeople know when a company they’re calling on is in the news.
Other “AI” solutions include virtual assistants, such as Charlie and Conversica, offloading the tedious work of booking appointments, automatic email nurturing, and picking up phrases in emails that could indicate a person who needs human attention.
These functions are extremely helpful to sales teams, but they are not exactly the knight in shining armor that many in the industry are claiming.
Why isn’t AI the silver bullet some sales leaders are expecting? Bronten lists two reasons:
- Problem #1: Garbage in, garbage out (Translation: You still have to know your customers.)
- Problem #2: Confusing transaction selling with complex sales (Translation: You still need salespeople who know their stuff.)
(Read the rest of Bronten’s article.)
You’re Not Off the Hook for Account Based Sales Development
Having a professional-grade hammer doesn’t make you a carpenter, nor does having an expensive wrench set make you a mechanic. AI doesn’t replace good sales skills. It’s a supplement only.
Account based selling is a sophisticated and complex process that requires salespeople who know their customers, understand buyers’ industries and challenges, and offer insights based on experience. That’s something AI can’t do.
Salespeople know that building trust is paramount, and it can be difficult to achieve. Rainmakers develop the uncanny ability to form long-term personal and business relationships. These don’t happen overnight. So, how do you earn your prospects’ trust and start building relationships that translate into sales?
Half the work is already done for you when you adopt referral selling as your primary outbound prospecting strategy. Because people your prospects know and trust have vouched for you, you have credibility with them before you even walk into a meeting. Your probability of closing a deal is well more than 50 percent (most salespeople tell me it’s more than 70 percent). No other prospecting strategy comes close.
AI can automate many repeatable tasks, but you can’t automate the relationships that drive account based sales development, can you?
Planning your 2017 Sales Kickoff meeting? Invite Joanne to speak to your team about the most effective account based sales development strategy—referral selling.
Copyright: hasloo / 123RF Stock Photo