B2B selling has become increasingly complex for buyers and sellers. Buyers are inundated with content on a variety of channels, from an assortment of vendors. Sellers are often pulled in several directions, with many tasks and responsibilities to tackle. AI-guided selling is helping sellers navigate the complexity of digital-first sales cycles.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are helping sellers realize this vision by transforming data from content analytics into intelligent insights that enable go-to-market teams to make the most of every revenue moment.
In this post, we’ll share the ins and outs of AI-guided selling, how it will affect go-to-market activities, and what it means for the future of sales and marketing.
What is AI-guided selling?
AI-guided selling combines human intelligence and machine learning to create more intelligent buyer engagements.
Every buyer engagement generates data that gives insight into sales activities. How and when was a specific content asset shared? How did buyers interact with specific content? Did a particular sales play lead to a closed-won opportunity?
When this data across multiple systems within a go-to-market (GTM) tech stack is aggregated, B2B organizations can create a comprehensive view of sales activities. When contextual data is collected at scale, it becomes more valuable than any data an individual seller can analyze.
Large-scale data sets contain patterns and behaviors that can open new opportunities. Machine learning supports sellers by transforming sales-related data to make focused recommendations to revenue teams.
How long has artificial intelligence existed?
While artificial intelligence may seem like a recent development, its origins are more complex. The short answer is that the concept of artificial intelligence dates back to the 16th century. However, our modern understanding of artificial intelligence finds its origins in 1950 when Alan Turing developed the “Turing Test”—an exercise to “test a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.”
The number of companies implementing AI-related technologies has grown by 270% over the last four years. As AI continues to play an increased role in everyday life, digital assistants like Microsoft Cortana and Amazon Alexa will become the norm, not the exception. AI-guided selling is the realization of the digital assistant model, just adapted for sales.
How is AI/ML used in B2B sales?
In the era of virtual sales, sellers are busier than ever. It’s a challenge to get the attention of prospective buyers, retain it, and nurture relationships. In an ecosystem rife with generic and irrelevant content, digital-first buyers rely upon personalized content experiences to inform their buying decisions.
The modern buyer is also more educated than ever. Research has shown that most buyers engage with more than 13 pieces of content before connecting with a seller. As buyers become more educated, they want consistent, linear content experiences and seller engagement. AI and ML help B2B sellers deliver content experiences that are unique to the buyer, as well as experiences that are proven effective based on data and contextual insights.
To be clear, AI-guided selling will not replace traditional seller engagements. Instead, AI and ML will complement the work sellers do. When sellers prepare for buyer engagements, from emails to meetings, AI will provide insights-driven recommendations on what content to share or details to keep in mind based on previous experiences.
Sellers maintain the authority to approve AI-guided recommendations. When mundane tasks are approved by a seller, AI systems work to fulfill recommendations by compiling personalized content for buyer engagements.
While sales will always be driven by a seller’s social and relationship-building skills, AI systems proactively give sellers the most effective actions they can take to advance conversations with buyers, and aid them in taking those actions.
Can AI/ML increase sales revenue?
Organizations adopt AI and ML for a variety of purposes. Not only do these technologies enable greater productivity by assuming and managing routine tasks, they also help identify patterns that lead to more intelligent business decision-making. Both of these business advantages support cost savings, as well as revenue generation.
A study conducted by McKinsey found that AI-guided selling provided an uptick in revenue and cost savings. Among businesses that adopted AI, 44 percent reported cost savings within the business units that have deployed the technology. McKinsey also found that high-performing organizations that have adopted AI are three times as likely to report revenue gains greater than 10 percent.
How will AI change the future of sales and marketing?
AI and machine learning are designed to support the work that marketers and sellers already perform. These technologies play a supporting role that enables marketers to create more effective campaign assets, and sellers to have more productive conversations with buyers.
Artificial intelligence supports marketers with insights that enable targeted campaign tactics. Instead of performing manual research, artificial intelligence can provide intelligent recommendations to optimize search engine optimization (SEO) for increased site traffic.
AI will also help marketers understand which industries and verticals to target. Based on content analytics, AI/ML is able to identify high-performing content and suggest it as a resource that can be leveraged to grow business within a specific vertical.
AI-guided selling also has a strong impact on the day-to-day activities of salespeople. AI, or digital assistants, are an omnipresent companion for sellers that leverage analytics to provide advice. For instance, if a seller is preparing an email for a prospect, a digital assistant can offer a content recommendation based on the content a buyer has previously interacted with, or that has performed well with similar buyers. This support allows sellers to eliminate the guesswork from their engagements and to refocus on building stronger relationships with buyers.
AI-guided selling also helps sellers save time on internal activities like training. With so many competing priorities, completing training adds an additional item to seller “to-do” lists. AI helps surface relevant training only as needed when needed so that sellers can spend their time most effectively and have the highest chance of knowledge retention.
Does Seismic offer AI-guided sales solutions?
The Seismic Storytelling PlatformTM seamlessly integrates with more than 70 sales and marketing solutions. Go-to-market teams rely on a variety of tools and systems to support and enhance their interactions with buyers. When these systems are integrated with the Seismic Platform, Seismic’s content analytics capabilities provide a comprehensive view of buyer-seller engagement—this data is used to fuel an AI engine.
Seismic Aura is an artificial intelligence engine designed to enhance sales enablement activities. Seismic Aura brings sales and marketing teams closer together, helping them to reach and delight customers at every revenue opportunity. Seismic Aura uses AI and machine learning technology to identify patterns, behaviors, and insights, helping identify new business opportunities and increase seller efficacy.
Seismic Aura also powers a Google Chrome extension which serves as a virtual assistant for sellers. The highly intelligent virtual assistant serves as an omnipresent “sidekick” that gives sellers insights-driven recommendations on how to engage and move deals forward with buyers.
Seismic Aura continuously learns from buyer engagements and becomes more intelligent over time. As sellers interact with buyers, the system evolves and optimizes content recommendations based on what is most effective.
If you’d like to learn more about AI-guided selling, download our white paper, Preparing for AI-Guided Selling: A Roadmap for Forward-Thinking Businesses.