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Chances are that this won’t be the first article you’ve read about AI this week. That’s down to the fact that, in the past year, the technology has gone from an eyebrow-raiser to a business essential, with the IBM Global AI Adoption Index reporting that as many as 77% of companies are actively using or exploring AI.
As to why—it comes down to time. Specifically, how much of it AI can save businesses. A salesperson's daily calendar, for instance, is filled with time-consuming activities such as scheduling calls, listening to voicemails, writing up notes, inputting data, and much more. In fact, our recent AI Index found that all these activities amount to a jaw-dropping 20+ hours a week!
So how can AI change all this?
The AI Opportunity for Sales Teams
One-third (33%) of workers say that their biggest ambition for AI is to improve overall customer service and sales. And when asked what value workers expect AI to deliver, 65% said greater sales performance or revenue growth. We get it. AI = more sales.
But seriously—this says a lot about the potential for AI within sales teams. And this marks it out as a great place for business leaders who are curious about the benefits of AI, to start their journey.
To delve into this further, let’s look at the sales-specific benefits AI can deliver.
It saves time
If we look at some of the contributing factors to that big 20+ hour figure, we can see the following across an average workweek:
2.2 hours spent on transcribing and writing up notes
3.2 hours spent manually transferring and inputting data
2 hours spent listening back to customer conversations
The reason AI is so crucial to improving sales is that it can enable you to wave goodbye to all these time-intensive tasks. Take Aircall’s own call and voicemail transcription feature, for instance. Built to automate these functions, it also makes it easier for sales reps to access customer insights without the hassle. This means that if you integrate the right solution, your sales team stands to get what equates to almost three working days back a week.
It solves challenges
When it comes to the specific challenges teams are facing, our AI Index shows that 60% say too much time is spent on repetitive tasks and admin. And this coincides with employees spending just 4.2 hours each week having meaningful conversations with their customers. These two findings are not exclusive—and the more AI brings down the first figure, the more you can expect the second one to climb.
It leads to more meaningful relationships
With time spent on admin piling up, it should come as no surprise that 63% of employees say it’s a struggle to make enough time to create and nurture meaningful customer relationships. Yet this is the backbone of every high-performing sales team. AI not only returns time to this pursuit, but it also makes it easier to access and share the customer insights that can feed into it.
So now that the case for AI implementation has been made, you might be asking yourself where to start. Well, it’s funny you should ask that.
The Top 3 Ways to Start Integrating AI into Your Sales Workflows
It’s not easy to start your AI journey. But you’re in safe hands with Aircall. Nevertheless, we understand that despite AI integration being undoubtedly exciting, it also warrants taking small initial steps—and some careful consideration.
With this in mind, we’ve put together the top three ways for your business to start implementing AI into its sales workflows.
1. Identify your biggest challenges
While the stats in the AI Index give a comprehensive overview of the challenges facing small to medium businesses (SMBs) worldwide, it’s likely that your own figures might fluctuate a bit. This is why it’s essential that you do some probing into the specific barriers your team faces.
Encouraging them to use time-blocked calendars (for a set period of time) can be a great way to understand the time they’re spending on tasks like data entry; listening back to calls and voicemails; and, of course, having meaningful conversations with potential customers. This will give you a good idea of what your sales team’s pain points are—and exactly where to focus your initial AI efforts.
2. Define where you want to drive efficiencies
Beyond improving your sales team’s day-to-day efficiency, what else is on the agenda? Well, according to our AI Index, sales teams felt the following could improve their performance:
More time dedicated to training sessions
The ability for team leads to join calls and train junior staff
Simpler call routing options to bring on more senior team members when needed
Transcriptions of previous customer and client interactions to gain insights from
AI is critical in sourcing quality insights and real-world examples, but it’s vital that you embrace it in a way that can make the most positive impact on your organization. As above, look to use AI to make your teams more efficient, giving your sales agents more time for training, the ability to gain valuable insights from customer interactions, and greater support from senior team members.
3. Address AI Concerns
To make AI integration a success, it’s important that you listen to the concerns your team might have. AI represents a source of great opportunity for some—but for others, it can lead to worry about their job and performance. In fact, 63% of sales reps are concerned that AI’s lack of human input will impact the quality of their work, while 47% are concerned AI will make their job harder.
When integrating AI to drive sales success, it’s important to ensure your team is onboard and raring to go. This won’t happen if they think the tools they use are set to eventually replace them. Ensure you spend time outlining the role of AI in your sales team and wider business, and be clear that your strategy is one based on partnership, not replacement.
Why AI Is Not Optional
The future of AI is already here, with 53% of SMBs planning to invest in the next 12 months. Companies choosing to ignore AI are choosing to start a race against their competitors a few hundred yards behind the starting line.
Businesses should look into starting their AI journey today, and by following the tips we’ve outlined here, they’ll not only make that tricky jump into AI—but nail the landing too!
Aircall’s AI-powered call and voicemail transcription feature is a great place to start. Want to know more? Schedule a demo today.
Published on January 2, 2024.