How to manage sales department using AI

Let’s imagine a typical workday at your sales department. Most often it is filled by meetings and sales calls. Because of the increased mobility of employees, a large proportion of tasks is carried out outside of your office.

In such an environment, the sales director needs to analyse a huge amount of data from many different sources… Working this way forces the use of CRMs which make it simpler to register activities and draw conclusions later. But salespeople don’t always like to use them. Why not?

The traditional way of developing software assumes the use of user interfaces, which we have to learn to use – they are by no means intuitive. They make work more time-consuming (you have to launch the app, log in, find the right place in the interface… and most of all, you have to remember to do it all).

In the mind of the salesperson it introduces unnecessary burden. From his perspective, it’s an effort which (in his eyes) does not necessarily translate into increased sales. He wants to spend as much time as possible working with clients.

From the point of view of a manager, reluctance to using CRMs is catastrophic: it makes controlling plans difficult and forces them to manage their teams with incomplete and low-quality data (which makes them “blind” in a certain way).

Solution? Artificial inteligence in sales.

Artificial Intelligence, which until recently was only real in science fiction movies, today is influencing the reality of many businesses. Research from Harvard Business Review suggests that over 40% of time spent on sales activities could be automated. This means that your chief of sales will have more time to build and manage complex human relations while learning how to work with AI.

According to many scientists, artificial intelligence will excel human intelligence by 2040!

Artificial intelligence isn’t just a buzzword, with the sole purpose of luring people to industry events. The rapid increase of computing power of machines combined with easier access to data allowed for creating “learning” algorithms which have the ability to analyse large pools of data and draw conclusions on that basis, just like humans do (it’s called machine learning).

Is Artificial Intelligence the remedy for all problems?

One might think that since Artificial Intelligence is becoming widely available then we can easily apply it to our business. As it turns out it’s not that simple.

The main challenges which we come across when implementing this kind of technology include:

  • limitations resulting from having insufficient data,
  • lack of competencies to properly define requirements,
  • and also (or perhaps, most of all) the lack of proper staff experienced with such issues.

Hence, the project of “implementing artificial intelligence” in our company may become a failure… but it doesn’t have to. So, how to approach this subject responsibly and in a “smart” way, so that the innovation brings real benefits to the business and our everyday work?

Ready-made solution – Intelligent sales assistant

Looking at the technological ecosystem around artificial intelligence one should note the segment of so-called smart assistants.This type of software application attempts to process the data which it receives in a smart way in order to draw proper conclusions, suggest actions, and even act on some of them on behalf of the user.

The main players in the race for creating the perfect assistant today are such giants as Google, Microsoft or Amazon. The pace of development of the “intelligence” of this type of software is astonishing. You could say that IQ of these assistants is now approaching the level of a toddler, while in 2014 it was perhaps only as smart as a mouse.

Moreover, there are a number of other companies which are creating assistant apps dedicated to particular applications. These include software which is practically ready-to-implement at any company. One example of such solutions is our Edward app, the smart sales assistant, which replaces the traditional tedious work required by CRM systems.

What is important, is that we can use this smart assistant at our company right away, without the need for the time-consuming definition of requirements and implementation. This way, almost in an instant, we can use the benefits of technological innovation and observe how our work becomes more efficient.

How Edward was born

We have spent the last 15 years creating dedicated business software. Enriched by the experience carried out of hundreds of projects, we decided to launch a company with the purpose of creating the software of the future.

While working with many clients before, we have noticed that the software which they use every day is to difficult to use. We began to think about how we could change that.

We wanted to create a solution which would facilitate communication and managing client relations at small and medium companies, while at the same time helping them increase their sales results.

There are many different systems in the market, but they usually share the same issues:

  • lack of time to type in data,
  • complicated interfaces,
  • reluctance to fill in all fields,
  • difficulty to draw conclusions.

Thanks to using Edward salespeople don’t have to remember to fill in all the fields of a CRM by hand. Edward adapts to the existing sales process within the company and allows for automation of such tedious activities as planning follow-ups, creating notes or updating the sales funnel. In all those places where sales work on the basis of a defined process employee satisfaction improves – salespeople don’t have to record all their activities by hand anymore, which saves their precious time. Edward also reminds them about things they need to do, increasing sales team effectiveness by 24%.

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An effective salesperson is a happy salesperson

Salespeople like Edward – they treat him as a member of their team. Edward does not force them to type in any data, doesn’t repeatedly ask them the same questions and gives them the same notifications over and over again. Instead, he asks proactively, suggests responses based on context and allows for quick selection from a predefined list of buttons (so-called “smart reply”). Users don’t have to remember about Edward and he will play his role anyway! This is very significant, especially for people who work in the field, take part in lots of meetings, make calls and have tons of things to remember.

On the other hand, if we want to quickly remember a thought, plan an activity, or scan a business card of a newly introduced client – Edward is also at our disposal. He will perform his duties quickly, without mistakes and in a smart way.

An effective manager is an informed manager

In the B2B world, where relations play a key role, recording the history of our activities is crucial. But the most important thing is for the salesperson not to have to gather data about clients and register all of the activities. The assistant can do it for them. Same goes for quick notes and meeting summaries.

This way the manager can receive not only detailed summaries of activities but also analyse how they influence the sales proces. Frankly, Edward will give him the knowledge on how to work with their team, to achieve even better results. And what’s even better, all this is available today, for a small subscription fee.

Future of artificial intelligence solutions for sales

We ask ourselves more and more often: will artificial intelligence take away our jobs? In the world of progressing automation, it will most certainly first happen to the people who carry our repeated activities, simple work related to data processing.

As to the B2B segment we believe in cooperation between human and the smart assistant, who will relieve people from most typical, tedious and repeating tasks. Humans will be able to focus on work, which will bring them joy and satisfaction.

The entire artificial intelligence market is changing so rapidly, that what seemed impossible as little as a year ago, today becomes standard. Creating notes from conversations in meetings is a good example. Voice recognition (especially in Polish) so far wasn’t flawless. Today we are able to transcribe voice into text with very high accuracy, and based on the recognised Polish speech we can make conclusions as to the intentions of the speaker, to give them recommendations regarding the next steps they should take. The next stage which we plan to implement is the full transcription of conversations and creating summaries. We want to relieve our users from one of the most loathed and time-consuming activities in sales and customer service.

This is how we plan to develop Edward. By watching trends and implementing them in processes which will then have more influence over the increase of efficiency of work among our clients.

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EDWARD is an AI powered enterprise assistant used by sales, HR and marketing teams in companies of all sizes.

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