Harvard Business Review blog

Why salespeople need to develop ‘machine intelligence’

| Article

Artificial intelligence (AI) is on quite a run—and the trend is heating up the sales field by enabling entirely new ways of selling. Purchasing, for example, is moving to automated bots, with 15 to 20 percent of total spend already sourced through e-platforms. By 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of their relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human. Leading companies are already experimenting with what these technologies can do for them, typically around transactional processes at early stages of the customer journey. As we learned from researching our book Sales Growth, companies that have pioneered the use of AI in sales rave about the impact, which includes an increase in leads and appointments of more than 50 percent, cost reductions of 40 to 60 percent, and call-time reductions of 60 to 70 percent. Add to that the value created by having human reps spend more of their time closing deals, and the appeal of AI becomes even clearer. But what does it mean to sales? We see two big implications.

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