The possibilities offered by artificial intelligence seem to be almost unlimited. It will control our cars for us, and intelligent voice assistants will take over time-consuming tasks like arranging appointments, hotel and travel bookings, carry out extensive research extremely quickly and know everything the Internet knows. AI applications can meaningfully combine multiple data strands and find patterns in them that bring us completely new insights and possibilities. All this and more makes it very interesting for marketing. But what about other company divisions? Sales, for example?
Sales vs. marketing: Unified by AI
In an ideal value chain, sales benefits from the work of marketing. But in practice, this relationship is not always so clear-cut. Or to put it another way: marketing and sales often see themselves as independent and not so much as links in a chain. Sales is not only the much older discipline, it often sees itself as the one that generates turnover – while marketing only spends money. This view is, of course, very simplified, but is still anchored firmly in the minds of many companies. Instead of working hand in hand, there is often an area of conflict. Artificial intelligence could play a major role in the urgently needed collaboration, as both company divisions will benefit from the intelligent algorithms, if the entire value chain is incorporated.
For a long time, sales dominated and told marketing how to position the products on the market so that sales staff could sell them. Today, however, the markets increasingly consist of comparable products and services, so sales would have little orientation without data from marketing. Which products are in demand, which prices are accepted and which benefits do customers want? These are the most important questions. Only if sales finds the right answers can it sell effectively.
Five sales tasks AI can help with
Products and services are best sold when demand is particularly high. But when exactly is this the case and how will demand develop in the future? The answers are hidden in the form of patterns in huge mountains of data, from marketing among others, which can only be retrieved with AI.
The right price
Price is still an important sales instrument. Up to now, however, the discounts and special conditions offered have been based more on the salesperson’s “room to maneuver” and “gut feeling”. An intelligent algorithm, on the other hand, can determine the optimal price by taking into account many reliable factors:
- Which prices has a customer accepted in the past?
- How have similar customers behaved?
- How are prices currently developing in the market?
- What is the customer’s current market position?
- What other factors have helped in successful deals?
Cross-selling and upselling
When is it worth offering a customer an add-on product and when is an upgrade to a higher value product the right incentive? If you don’t want to annoy your customers with monotonous slogans like “Would you like another coffee with your roll?”, you should calculate the probability of successful cross-selling beforehand. Upselling offers must above all make sense: Does the customer need the higher quality product and can he afford it? Algorithms can greatly improve the basis for such offers.
Generating new leads is not too difficult. It is much more difficult, however, to filter out those interested parties who have the best sales prospects from the masses. Algorithms not only make the evaluation of sales opportunities more effective, they also make it less dependent on subjective factors.
More information, less time spent
All the positive effects of the previous factors are summarized under this point. Anyone who uses AI sensibly for sales and establishes a common database with marketing profits from valuable information about their customers. Since many AI processes can be automated, they take the time pressure off the sales team after the initial phase. The time gained can now be used for lead qualification.
The bottom line
Artificial intelligence is therefore not only interesting for marketing, but can also raise the information basis for sales to a new level. One exciting side effect can be an improvement in the relationship between marketing and sales. After all, marketing generates a great deal of customer data that is urgently needed to set up the AI. This in turn provides the information that drives sales.