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How is Artificial Intelligence (AI) Transforming Sales in 2020 and Beyond?

5 min readSeptember 30, 2020

Artificial intelligence is already being used by sales organizations of all sizes to provide salespeople and managers with real-time guidance, increase productivity, prioritize leads and a variety of other critical sales functions.

While some salespeople might be apprehensive about AI, fearing that it’s a “job replacer,” AI has the potential to be used as a tool to help human reps better meet the increasing customer demands.

This post will take a dive into what AI is and how it has the potential to revolutionize the sales process, improving both rep and customer experiences.

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

Put simply, artificial intelligence is the science of simulating human intelligence. AI typically employs something called a neural network, which is a simulation of a human brain. The net is often trained with algorithms, which are sets of unambiguous rules. The algorithms are usually designed to accomplish specific functions of human intelligence. Some examples of these include recognizing faces or objects, playing chess and composing music in the style of Bach.

Is Artificial Intelligence Replacing Human Sales Reps?

It’s understandable why some salespeople worry that AI is a potential job killer. In fact, when many people hear the term artificial intelligence, their minds immediately think of doomsday scenarios, in which machines replace humans. There are a fair share of technologists like Elon Musk who have made scary predictions about AI. And movie franchises like Terminator and The Matrix have reinforced this idea in our minds.

So is AI really something to be feared? Like just about any powerful technology, there is potential for misuse. The truth is that, if you’re reading this article, AI is likely already making your life better in a multitude of ways. The apps you use to navigate traffic and search the internet are already using artificial intelligence to provide you with real-time guidance and better answers.

The same is true of AI applications for sales teams. AI shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for humans, but rather a tool that can be used to help human sales reps reach their full potential. And this is only growing more important, as buyers get increasingly sophisticated.

AI Transforming Sales Image

Why Sales Teams Are Investing in AI

Every day, over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is generated worldwide. And that number is set to more-than-double by 2025!

The sheer amount of customer data available to sales organizations is only growing increasingly overwhelming. However, it is imperative that sales organizations make sense of this customer data.

Why? Because McKinsey research shows that data-driven sales organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers than their peers. And by the way, they’re also six times more likely to retain customers and 19 times more likely to be profitable.

Data creates a tremendous amount of noise in sales. But the organizations that are most successful at transforming that noise into actionable insights are the ones that will be most successful. That’s where artificial intelligence comes in.

AI can make sense of this data in real time (way better and faster than a human rep ever could). And with the right AI applications, data can be transformed into real-time sales guidance that reveals exactly where sales development reps, account executives, sales managers and sales executives should focus their efforts to drive the most revenue.

Another reason why AI is growing increasingly important is because buyers are getting more sophisticated. And buying cycles are growing more complex as a result. Gartner reports that more than three quarters of B2B buyers reported their last purchase as complex. And the average number of decision makers on a B2B deal falls between six and 10.

To keep pace with sophisticated buyers, B2B sales organizations need to be able to enable their buyers with the right information and content in the right context. Artificial intelligence can be used to help reps have smarter and more impactful conversations with buyers. Making both the buyer and seller’s job easier.

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How is AI Used to Help Sales Teams Succeed

Artificial intelligence has many powerful applications for sales. Here are some of the top ways that AI can help human reps and managers improve productivity and have more successful conversations with clients.

Conversation Intelligence

Conversation intelligence solutions (such as ConversationAI) use voice recognition, a common AI application. A neural network that is trained to recognize human voices can then provide a ton of insight at scale to sales teams. Some benefits include:

  • Being able to recognize when reps are talking over prospects
  • Gauging how often reps talk vs. listen to prospects
  • Automatically identifying calls that mention competitors, specific sales objections, product SKUs and more
  • Automatically assembling model calls into training libraries to help new reps ramp faster

Conversation Intelligence Revenue.io ConversationAI

Lead Prioritization

An important part of AI is being able to analyze historical data in aggregate and then offer recommendations based on the data set. AI can therefore be used by sales teams to recognize what a “good lead/prospect” looks like. This can be used to help busy sales reps know where to spend their time.

Predictive Analytics

As more sales teams adopt an account-based model, there is a growing desire for solutions that can use predictive algorithms to recognize accounts that look like existing customers.

Lead Qualification

Sales teams are increasingly employing AI-powered chatbots to help pre-qualify leads. This makes human reps more productive by ensuring that they don’t burn valuable time talking to leads that simply aren’t qualified.

As an example, say you sell a solution that requires a company to be using GSuite. The bot could find out if a customer’s company is using GSuite without having reps waste time talking to prospects that only use Microsoft Office 360.

Real-Time Sales Coaching

Revenue.io has innovated one of the most cutting-edge use cases of AI in sales: the ability to automatically provide reps with sales coaching insights in real time. This is done by recognizing key phrases and then popping alerts that guide reps in real time.

An example of this could be if a rep forgets to mention that a call is being recorded within a key time window. Or if a prospect mentions a competitor, an alert could pop up with talking points about how to beat that competitor.

This type of technology doesn’t replace the need for sales managers. On the contrary, it helps managers enforce their sales coaching programs and scale it across teams. This is a powerful evolution over traditional sales coaching, since reps often forget their training (especially during stressful, fast-paced sales calls).

Realtime sales coaching Revenue.io

These are just some of the ways that artificial intelligence is being used to help sales organizations succeed. We expect the use of AI to become omnipresent in sales organizations (especially B2B sales organizations) over the next 5 years. But human reps shouldn’t see AI as a job killer. On the contrary, AI can help reps make sense of sales noise, navigate complex deals, prioritize leads and have far more impactful conversations. All while giving sales managers the insight they need to help coach their reps to exceed revenue targets.