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Will AI really impact sales, or is the magic ingredient something else?

Worldwide, the sales revenue targets are never met to their full potential. Whether it’s the front-line sales targets or the top line revenue, B2B environment, B2C scenarios or a social enterprise, there seems to be only so much pie, despite the human population of almost around 7.7 Billion.

At the same time, humans have evolved to the point of putting AI to use. And like any other business domain, AI seems to be the new catalysts to transforming sales as well. Hence, there’s a tremendous buzz about it as well. There are articles reporting sky-high ROI from AI that is designed to boost inside sales as well as field sales promotion; and one might feel that AI is the next step to adding value in sales strategy.

However, there are some obvious pitfalls that strategists are still overlooking. In this article, let’s examine them:

1. Difficulty in creating and implementing relevant AI solutions

To create and implement AI solutions that are specific to your business is never easy. It’s a new technology, needs time, skill and resources. Next, it needs to be trained in driving the results that you want, from the data.

2. Absence of cross-functional teams

In truth, the sales process can be redefined and augmented only when cross functional teams contribute to it. That ensures that everyone knows what is being committed and what is to be delivered. Is the company really equipped with technology that will be needed to deliver sales targets five years down the line? Is the company ready to take any hits that any pending legislation might bring? Different professionals across functions have to contribute for everyone to function effectively. Including Salespeople.

3. Authenticity of the Data

Despite the above two, even if you were to implement AI in your organization, automate backend, put CRMs in place, what’s the guarantee that the data is being recorded accurately. Most sales representatives do maintain two separate log books. One – the set of data they put into the system. Other – where they anticipate longer closure cycles, or value the deal personally enough to not want to share it with the overall earn. The reasons may vary. Also, let’s not doubt their intent. However, the data maybe processed with new algorithms etc. it’s still not the cleanest, most authentic and real data.

4. Extremely Long Closure Cycles

Actually, when one examines the problems deeper, one realizes that the sales people are not to be blamed. No matter how good the product is, no matter how many offers they are willing to make, no matter how efficient your operations team is, when it comes to deliver results for the buyer; closure of the sales cycle is the toughest bit of it. Also, the longest phase of it, for that matter.

If one were to equate it with a relationship, it would look like the guy who would take years before he commits. Which means, no matter how qualified your lead is, no matter how effective your product is, no matter how efficient your team is, something is still missing. What is that something?

5. The Missing Ingredient – The Right Pitch

The better pitch, not necessarily, the better product or service, usually wins.

What’s missing is a great pitch. Sales people are not able to excite the buyer. There’s no big idea, no problem large enough that the decision maker would like to solve. There are only needy sales pitches everywhere we see. As a result, almost all pitches sound the same.

Every sales person is harping on about the features and benefits of their product and services. Every buyer is aware of what they are going to talk about. Both the seller and the buyer have read sales books and are pitting against each other, rather than actually benefiting from the product.

The truth? No matter how many advanced level listings of features and benefits sales people make, from their advanced brain; the buyer is still going to operate from distrust and fear in his primitive brain. Hence, there will be never a deal.

But it could change if sales people learnt how to make this pitch. Because, the missing ingredient is always going to be a great pitch!