What is AI-Guided Selling?

Using AI in Sales

B2B sales has changed—and AI-guided selling is one of the new tactics of winning sales teams.

Today’s business buyers expect the same convenience and ease we have when we purchase B2C products. If you shop on Amazon, with its sophisticated search engine, targeted results, easy “Buy Now” button, and one-day shipping, you know what I mean.

B2B buyers are the same as consumers. They want to research vendors online, read reviews and product comparisons, and prefer ‘rep-less’ interactions whenever possible.

Thanks to the amount of information available through digital channels, B2B buyers choose to navigate the purchasing process themselves instead of being guided by a salesperson. According to Gartner, B2B buyers will engage with more than 13 pieces of content when making a buying decision.

Yet these same buyers will only spend 17% of their time connecting with a seller. If the buyer is comparing multiple suppliers, they may only spend five or six percent of their time with any one sales rep.

B2B sellers must adapt to these digital-first buyers. Creating meaningful connections that move the sale forward requires the help of artificial intelligence (AI).

Today, AI-assisted selling is a requirement if sellers are to connect with these empowered buyers and close deals.

What Is AI-Guided Selling?

AI describes machines that mimic functions associated with the human mind, such as learning and problem-solving. While this sounds complex, the reality is that, whether we know it or not, AI is used across industries to help decision-makers draw insights from vast quantities of data.

In sales, AI combines human intelligence and machine learning to create more intelligent buyer engagements. AI can analyze massive data sets to find patterns and behaviors that lead to new opportunities.

This analysis is far greater—and more accurate—than any one person could ever produce. Machine learning transforms sales-related data into focused recommendations that better support sellers and connect with buyers.

How Is Artificial Intelligence Used in Sales?

Think of all the times you ask Siri or Alexa for directions or the weather. Or you look at social media and find posts targeted to your interests. It’s all powered by AI. Streaming a movie on Netflix? The company reports that up to 80% of what viewers watch on their service is content recommended from an AI-powered analysis of your past viewing history and other data.

Now, think of the data generated by the rapid rise in digital activity among B2B buyers. AI harnesses the power of all that data using algorithms that determine patterns in buyer behavior, including content engagement, sales performance, product use, and external conditions.

The AI-generated data created from this analysis determines what content or action the seller should use to move the buyer forward to the next step in the sales process.

This AI-guided, data-driven approach to selling benefits both buyers and sellers.

AI-supported selling is a vital navigation tool for sellers, many of whom are pulled in different directions as they strive to meet their goals. By pointing to the right resources at the right time, AI helps these sellers be more effective and impactful in their sales engagements.

Buyers also benefit from an AI-driven approach to the sales engagement. In this digital-first sales cycle, many buyers struggle to manage the vast amounts of information they receive from various vendors.

AI-assisted selling ensures these buyers only receive the content they need—right when they need it—making it easier for them to understand the value of a product or service and take action.

How Can AI Improve Sales Performance and Revenue?

AI sometimes brings up fears that machines will replace humans. But today, attitudes about AI are changing as more people see the value that AI brings to enhancing the way we live and work.

Salespeople are among those who are embracing AI.

AI-supported selling helps sellers make better use of their time, build stronger relationships with their customers, and close more deals. As a result, sellers and sales managers see AI as a valuable tool for enhancing the entire selling process.

AI enables the seller to take the guesswork out of what content to send and when. AI-supported selling solutions source and surface this highly relevant sales content to the seller so that they can present it to the buyer at precisely the right moment in the buyer’s journey.

AI-assisted selling also gives sales teams visibility into pipelines, deals, and team activity. This data-driven insight helps reps navigate the sales process better and avoid making mistakes that can cost them the deal.

AI can also show the seller if a deal is at risk and help them to understand why. The seller gets actionable recommendations for overcoming objections. The rep gets presented with the resources they need to manage buyer objections and respond to changes in real-time.

In addition to facilitating a better sales process, AI-supported selling technology helps sales leaders provide constructive, actionable feedback at scale to their sales teams.

Given this powerful combination of features and functionality, it’s no wonder that AI is being adopted—and successfully deployed—by an increasing number of organizations.

Forbes reports that 63% of executives whose companies have adopted AI sales tools say AI has increased revenues. Moreover, over 44% of executives say AI has reduced costs.

AI-Powered Selling Tools to Improve Business

According to Gartner, B2B sales organizations can help sellers improve sales execution and increase the chances of closing new deals by adding AI-based guided selling to their sales organizations.

Gartner notes that AI-based guided selling comes in two forms: prescriptive and predictive.

Prescriptive AI refers to recommended next best actions, such as which content to send to a prospect. Predictive AI reveals future performance (prospect behavior or deal progression) based on historical data.

Together, these AI-based sales enablement capabilities take the guesswork out of the best way to move a deal forward. Sellers get selling examples and recommendations that guide the strategy and analytics that help predict outcomes with today’s savvy, self-directed buyer.

AI-Guided Selling Examples and Use Cases

Let’s look at these prescriptive and predictive forms of AI-guided selling.

Imagine a salesperson preparing for a customer meeting. In a traditional selling situation, sellers pull together what they know (or think they know) about the competition and their favorite sales content that always seems to perform well.

An AI-guided selling situation looks much different. Instead of the seller spending time gathering information and content, AI surfaces intel based on the competitors that the prospect has been evaluating and makes specific content recommendations to handle the most likely objections. Upon the seller’s approval, the system takes care of delivering on those recommendations and pulls together customized content for the meeting.

The value of AI-supported selling goes beyond just supporting the seller; sales managers, sales executives, and sales coaches can also tap into the predictive capabilities of AI to make them better leaders at scale.

Conversation intelligence is an example of this type of AI-supported selling tool. This technology records, transcribes, and analyzes sales calls and generates specific recommendations.

Sales managers can use these suggestions to provide actionable feedback to their sellers, including identifying skill gaps, prescribing sales training to correct specific behaviors, and extracting best practices for their entire team.

This AI-powered feedback improves the seller’s performance and keeps deals moving through the pipeline.

Why AI-Guided Selling Is the Future of Sales

As the trend toward a self-directed buying process shows no signs of slowing down, AI-supported selling is not just good to have—it’s now a requirement. AI-supported sellers can better reach empowered buyers with a customized, engaging customer experience tailored to their specific needs.

It’s no wonder that a growing number of organizations are turning to AI-assisted selling solutions.

Research firm ZS surveyed over 190 commercial leaders to understand their organization’s current AI enablement capabilities and their plans for leveraging AI over the next one to two years. The focus of the survey was on sales enablement and AI-guided selling.

In the survey, 72% of respondents said their organizations plan to deploy an AI-guided selling solution to enable sales better. Of this 72%, approximately 40% plan to deploy an AI-guided selling solution within the following year. In addition, a similar percentage of respondents are planning to deploy an AI-guided selling solution within the next two years.

The survey also revealed that 80% of organizations that already use AI-guided selling plan to increase their investment in the technology.

These trends clearly show that AI powers the future of selling. The sales practices of those organizations that use AI-assisted selling technology will continue to grow and excel. Those companies not using AI-assisted selling technology will be left behind.

Today, B2B sales and sales management success requires the insight, analysis, and actions that only AI-supported selling technology can deliver.

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