We hosted our very first webinar on Wednesday, Dec. 6 at x.ai, How To Use AI To Sell More, where Dennis Mortensen was joined by Troops.ai CEO and Founder, Dan Reich, for a lively discussion on how AI can be seamlessly integrated into the sales process.
Here’s a recap of our webinar to add some productivity inspiration for your sales game!
What Sales Used to Look Like
Over the past 20 years, the sales process has changed along with technology and gone through a few different iterations, or “chapters.” Chapter 1 was a sales process entirely dependent on and driven by relationships, where industry leaders carried around massive, coveted Rolodexes and black books, built from years of experience.
When the Internet revolutionized the world, CRM systems came along with it. Black books morphed into Customer Profiles, communication was over email and phone, and paper contracts became a thing of the past when we got PDFs. Modern digitization created a sea of data requiring overwhelming, tedious maintenance in order for sales reps to be at all effective.
Dan explained that in a prior role, he felt the pain of manual data entry often. His manager flat out told him: “If your team doesn’t update the CRM every Tuesday by 5PM, they’re fired.” IT might sound crazy, but it made sense for the time – if the CRM didn’t have accurate information, management had no idea what was going on, harming their business planning and forecasting.
The paradox was (and still is) that the salespeople responsible for that data entry still needed to do all the other, actual “sales” parts of their job, like contacting leads and guiding them to an eventual purchase or repurchase. The question becomes: How do I find the time to accurately capture and record the data needed to do sales well, but also actually sell?
The New Way of Doing Sales
Lucky for us, we’re moving towards a future where choosing between interacting with prospects and tracking the right data doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. With the advent of new technologies, we’re seeing a new chapter in sales – filled with intelligent agents and automation that saddle up alongside you and help you do your job better.
These intelligent agents have names you’ve already heard – Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, Cortana, and more. They adopt conversational interfaces to seamlessly integrate with regular life and feel natural to use. We see this conversational model as the future of interaction with software, and we’re already handing off requests to an agent (human-like entity) without thinking twice.
Dan suggested agents with conversational interfaces make the experience easier. We spend most of our time in conversation to begin with, with our clients, coworkers, and friends. When this translates to tasks, it’s easier to simply say it so we’re not jumping in between fifty different platforms.
Dennis is still waiting for the moment he can walk into his room after checking in at the Hilton, plop down on the sofa in his underwear, and ask the room for a Diet Coke and have one appear “automagically.”
Where AI Can Improve The Sales Cycle
Although it will take better tech before we can expect Diet Cokes from thin air, we can already change specific parts of the sales process today – with AI.
Let’s look at the critical steps where accurate client information is needed.
Right before a presentation meeting or during the proposal phase, a salesperson needs the right information to create the best possible pitch. Accessing that information by logging into SalesForce and poking around for the account is annoying and prone to error. With Troops, they could simply Slack the Troops Bot and have what they need in milliseconds.
It’s a similar idea with x.ai. Once a salesperson sends their prospect their deliverables, someone has to follow-up. If Amy or Andrew are copied on the email chain, they’ll gently nudge their contact to confirm a specific date and time to meet – even if it’s months into the future. You can say goodbye to Googling creative ways to follow-up dead email threads; Amy and Andrew do it for you.
But perhaps even better than the sheer efficiency of tools like this is the ease of mind they can give you. Offloading the more mundane tasks of your sales job to a machine allows salespeople to shift their focus to the core of what matters, like building relationships, developing trust, storytelling, and closing.
Troops’ Slackbot pulls SalesForce data into Slack when you tell it to. As opposed to backtracking to SalesForce, the entire sales funnel can improve their work flow by integrating the two technology platforms, including roles like Sales Development Representatives, Account Managers, and Customer Success teams.
They’re building intelligent software to help millions of people automate key workflows, eliminate busy work, and bring insights to make work easier. Their Slackbot for sales and customer teams makes it dead simple to integrate Salesforce and Slack so Sales Reps, SDRs, Account Managers and Customer Success teams can quickly get information and make updates to Salesforce.
Troops has updated over $2.14 billion dollars in revenue for their users, and counts companies like InVision, Square, Looker, Flexport and others among their client list.
x.ai takes the pain out of scheduling by removing email ping pong. This solution, again, is one where you can “outsource” a small but repetitive chore to an agent who you can easily, in natural language, ask for what you need.
Amy and Andrew have helped individuals and teams at companies like Slack, New York Times, Disney, and SalesForce stop worrying about scheduling meetings with a client and chasing down prospects so they can focus on what really matters – closing.
It’s that simplicity that attracts sales pros around the world, including our own Enterprise Sales Manager, Ally. To really illustrate the volume of meetings that sales professionals schedule (and thus spend time on scheduling), even though Dennis uses Amy to schedule all of his meetings, even Date Night and PTA meetings, Ally still managed to schedule 20 more meetings than him per month.
How do you loop in AI in a socially acceptable way? For instance, understanding the social dynamics of a meeting, and client/vendor relations?
Dennis: We’ve certainly seen some stigma attached to the idea of using an agent, regardless if she is a human or artificial intelligence. Most people have found that they have the opportunity to introduce the agent during the handoff, and nice people continue to be nice people towards it. Anyone who is an asshole at the thought of a personal assistant is probably an asshole to begin with.
What are some of the top ways to encourage salespeople to begin using AI?
Dan: There is very basic blocking and tackling that can be automated that’s not today. For example, lead management. Today, when a lead comes in through a website – the question becomes how do we manage it? There is simple automation that the company can put in place to make sure the lead gets handled properly.
Can this technology be used for prospecting?
Dennis: We don’t believe we’re in the business of prospecting or selling. We’re in the business of removing a chore once you’re past a certain inflection point, meaning that the customer went to the website and asked to be called. Perhaps Amy could set up that call for you. Amy cannot do the qualification, she can work on the chore itself of scheduling once two or more have previously agreed to a meeting.
How much set up is needed for Troops and x.ai?
Dan: The setup for Troops is very simple – we’ve spent over two years of hardcore research and development and product development to make it dead simple for our customers to turn on a series of automation and workflow in literally minutes, and we’re looking to bring that down even more from here.
Dennis: We are in the same boat, and it brings us back to where we started. These new software paradigms do not come with the pain of even installing them to begin with. For x.ai, any individual account manager can just go to the website, take their card out, pay $17, connect their calendar – and that is it. Nothing to install, no app, no plugin, no extension. Just an email you ask to do something. On the Enterprise end, we do run evaluations if you have a larger team, and you want to see how you can roll out. It’s less about technical integration and more about organization integration. There’s no technical barrier which you have to figure out how to solve for.
For more information on Troops.ai and their Slackbot for sales, please visit their website.
If you enjoyed this webinar, stay tuned for our next one on January 17th.
Feature image credit to original creator.