AI is everywhere right now. It’s electrifying businesses around the globe and is expected to add a hefty $15.7 trillion to the global economy by the end of the decade. What’s more, with recent advancements, the applications of AI are no longer limited to tech specialists or large enterprises with big budgets to spend.
However, our recent research studying over 3,500 global employees of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) found that a significant portion of teams remain uncertain about how AI can be used in key customer-facing departments. In fact, over one in four (28%) felt either unconfident or very unconfident about the prospect of using AI to support sales teams.
For those salespeople looking at AI innovation and wondering what to make of it—we’ve got you covered. Here we look at how to build confidence in AI tools and start using them to drive improved sales. Surfs up, salespeople—let’s ride the approaching wave of AI innovation.
Building Confidence in AI Tools
Customer-facing teams like sales stand to make some of the biggest gains from AI’s productivity-boosting potential. Yet their work is also uniquely built around human connections—meaning AI’s implementation requires a considered approach. In fact, 63% of sales reps are concerned that a lack of human input would impact the quality of their work.
A lack of personalization is also a key concern for sales reps who are underconfident in AI—with 55% of them highlighting it as a concern, compared to 42% of workers in general.
It’s natural for teams to feel concerned about the use of AI, given it can have far-reaching implications for how work is done. Equally, to unlock the value of any new technology, buy-in from the workforce is essential. Here are some tips on addressing AI concerns from sales teams so they can start unlocking its potential.
Make learning about AI part of your sales strategy
Creating a safe environment when introducing AI is key to helping sales teams to understand its value. From virtual ask-me-anything sessions with your sales leaders to hands-on demos with new AI tools, being open about AI capabilities and tackling concerns head-on will go far.
Agree on your AI approach and put it in writing
For customer-facing teams like sales, human connections are vital. They want to be assured that AI isn’t going to impact the relationships they cultivate with prospects. To allay those concerns, create a set of best practices that showcase that you have guardrails in place that are designed to ensure AI is only a help—not a hindrance—to human relationships.
Be flexible with AI
No sales leader can say exactly how they’ll be using AI in a year’s time—let alone five. Be open-minded about how you can deploy the technology and be prepared to take advantage of new developments. What’s more: Listen to teams. If feedback suggests that your AI approach isn’t working, be ready to respond.
Where AI Can Boost Productivity and Connection
SMBs are built on the strength of their customer relationships. The value of AI for sales teams will therefore stem from both how it can boost team productivity and how it can increase their ability to deliver impactful prospect experiences. And according to our research, this is an area that could be improved.
Today, employees report that just 4.2 hours out of the workweek are spent on meaningful customer and prospect interactions. And 63% recognize that having enough time to nurture meaningful relationships—which are key to improving business metrics like revenue—is a challenge.
On top of that, 60% state that they spend too much time on manual tasks and admin. All of these data points provide a picture of where AI should be focused for sales teams. By using it to reduce the time spent on busywork—for example, typing up call notes or inputting data into a CRM—salespeople can get more time back to close new deals.
In fact, today, employees already estimate that AI applications could save a significant amount of time on day-to-day tasks—estimates that are only likely to grow as AI technology matures and its uses become better understood. For example, salespeople estimate a quarter of their time (25%) spent writing up notes could be cut by using AI, and a similar amount (23%) of their time that’s currently lost listening back to calls and voicemails.
By focusing on these use cases, organizations can start honing how they integrate AI into their sales strategy and begin shortlisting the tools that are best suited to support them—like AI-powered transcription for calls and voicemails.
Looking for some more inspiration for how your sales team can implement AI? Check out our full article covering three ways you can integrate AI into your sales workflows.
Helping Sales Teams Reach Their Full Potential
Clearly, for salespeople, there’s still room to grow when it comes to building confidence in AI. But these folks are used to moving at pace, adapting to new technologies, and never taking their foot off the gas.
Businesses should expect a learning period, in which salespeople get to grips with new solutions, identify where they can be implemented, and start deploying new workflows making use of AI. However, by using it to strengthen the human connections that are the bedrock of any great sales team while reducing the admin, repetitive tasks, and mundane busy work that gets in the way, it won’t be long until salespeople are using AI to continue racing ahead.
Want to learn more about the future of AI for customer-facing teams like sales? Download the full Aircall AI Index today.
Published on January 2, 2024.