In my 2018 Business Trends article, I noted how Artificial Intelligence (AI) has moved past the realm of niche tech jargon to mainstream corporate America. Leading companies are using AI to improve customer experience, streamline processes and gain insights into sales interactions that would have been virtually impossible a few years ago.

Today, AI is no longer seen as a futuristic product of science fiction, but rather an innovative technology that is changing the face of business. Here are 3 clever ways AI is being used today by organizations to improve performance and increase sales.

1. Sales conversations

I recently spoke with Amit Bendov, the CEO and co-founder of Gong.io, a company that is revolutionizing B2B sales conversations.

Gong has developed a unique "conversation intelligence platform" that allows companies (with permission) to record, transcribe, and analyze all of its sales calls "so they can drive sales effectiveness at scale, figure out what's working and what's not, and ramp new hires faster by helping them replicate your top performers."

By finding patterns in conversations -- i.e, what topics are most discussed, when and by whom? Is the sales person doing more talking than listening? Is price being discussed earlier or later in the conversation? What are clients' objections? -- sales managers can gauge whether or not the conversations will result in closed deals. In 30 seconds, Gong can understand what happens in a 30-minute conversation.

One of the interesting patterns Gong's algorithms have found relates to effective sales behavior. Gong looked at two groups: Group A's reps spent a lot of time talking, demonstrating their expertise about the solution and explaining how everything works; Group B talked more about what the client was trying to accomplish, what problems they were running up against and what kind of results the client was after. Turns out Group B was the top performing group.

I'm not surprised. Reps always say to me, "I need more expertise. I need to know more about our products and how they work." And my response is, "Actually, you don't. You think you do, but you don't." The top performers almost never talk about the solution, they talk about what the client is trying to solve and the results they're looking for.

AI allows companies to glean insights into complex and nuanced conversations that undoubtedly would take humans years and millions to uncover.

2. Training & Development

With a user-friendly interface and easy to understand analytics, the software provides hard data that sales managers can use to make accurate and informed decisions. This technology helps sales teams see, without bias, what actions are yielding results and what actions are not. Whether it's understanding the types of emails clients are responding to, how reps are handling follow-up calls or what issues prospects care most about, the tool gives sales professionals real insights they can use to pivot on-the-fly.

Too often, sales managers make decisions that are not grounded in hard data. As a result, it's difficult not only to train new reps, but to close the gap between top performers and everyone else. Artificial intelligence allows companies to narrow that gap.

3. Customer Experience

AI can also help improve customer experience by collecting data on transactions, touch points and other key metrics. Armed with that valuable information, companies can phase out ineffective product features, marketing campaigns and even entire product lines -- often, in real time. Which leads me to a key point: information is only good if it's acted upon. AI can provide organizations with valuable information but it's up to organizations to follow up if change is necessary.

So if you think your goal is "how do I get this person to buy", you lose. If you're curious and really want to understand what problem clients are trying to solve, what happens if they don't solve their problems, and what outcome they're going to consider successful -- if you're really curious about that and want to better understand how to help, then you will be wildly successful and you'll never feel like you're selling anything. As a result, customers benefit too.

7 Predictions About Artificial Intelligence From Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Other Tech Leaders
Published on: Jan 24, 2018