There’s a lot of hype surrounding AI in business infrastructure. And in sales specifically, it’s predicted that 75 percent of B2B sales organizations will be using AI-powered selling solutions of some sort by 2025.
There’s often a disconnect between the hype and on-the-ground reality. Yet, in the sales trenches with my clients, I’m seeing AI significantly impact sales enablement, at scale, in the real world.
Today’s Sales Ecosystem: Message Is King
The sales climate is fast-paced and brutally message-sensitive. Getting the right message in front of the right customer demands agile and intelligent message targeting. For large sales organizations, it can be hard to keep sellers on message when pivoting to time-sensitive opportunities or capturing niche market share. Trying to rapidly upskill a large sales force to bring a consistent story to market is easier said than done.
Part of the upskilling challenge is that sales and sales organizations have dramatically changed in recent years. Before the pandemic, selling was already transitioning to digital and inside sales. COVID accelerated this trend, and post-COVID is cementing it. Some companies went all digital during the pandemic and simply never shifted back. Some have field sellers that were on the road 80 percent of the time pre-COVID, who are now 50-50 (or less).
Today, sales leaders are being asked to do more with less. They might have fewer salespeople on staff but are expected to generate the same or higher revenue. This is why we’re seeing them scramble to find ways to automate better, digitize, and equip their sellers to have more effective conversations.
Building Message Proficiency is Tough
Building seller proficiency on new messages—whether for new hires (onboarding) or veteran sales team members (everboarding) was complex before the shift to digital/inside sales. Today, with managers so time-constrained, it’s nearly impossible.
Despite their best intentions, sales leaders simply lack the time to personally certify every seller on every talk track that goes out the door.
Traditional approaches attempt to harness the power of the digital environment by offering sales leaders a choice of such moments – a huge choice. Call recording and sales readiness platforms create vast libraries of sales interactions ready for managerial review. Yet if sales leaders don’t have time for synchronous, face-to-face coaching, they have even less time for asynchronous digital reviews.
The dissonance between the need for constant message upskilling and finite managerial capacity is driving the AI revolution in sales enablement. For our clients, turning to field-proven, AI-powered, low-touch sales enablement solutions was simply the next logical step in sales enablement.
AI: Addressing Today’s (and Tomorrow’s) Challenges
AI-powered sales enablement tools are a viable solution to the challenge of scaling sales enablement. They offer a safe environment for sellers to practice and build fluency in new and existing messages. Far from simply recording sales pitches and hoping someone has time to review them, AI solutions eliminate the expert bottleneck. This frees up sales mentors to do what they do best – continue driving revenue. It also frees sales managers to focus on where they can effectively coach.
We use Second Nature’s sales coaching platform as the basis of our Fluency Coaching AI program, specifically designed so B2B organizations can quickly and effectively train thousands of sellers on new messaging. With Second Nature, our customers’ sales leaders can upskill their employees and new hires on messages while better leveraging their own limited time to drill down where their expertise is needed most.
Once sales leaders realize that they can trust the AI algorithm to accurately and consistently identify friction points—ensuring that their teams aren’t just reciting messages but fully ready to have an impactful customer conversation—things start to change.
For one thing, onboarding is faster and more efficient. Shortening the speed to revenue for a net new hire equals faster time to build a pipeline toward net new revenue. Helping existing sellers pivot faster to a new story that matches new marketing messages or market demands is equally valuable.
What’s more, we’re seeing greater message agility in our clients using Second Nature. It’s no longer out of the ordinary that a seller needs to learn at least one new story a quarter—for a new product launch, a new position, or in response to a competitive threat. And for each of these new messages, each seller will need a version for existing and new customers. In the past, this pivot was once constrained by managerial bottlenecks, but today with AI, we’re seeing faster message rollouts with quantifiable sales results.
The Bottom Line
Getting the right message in front of the right customer at the right time is art and science. But it mainly falls under the 10 percent inspiration, 90 percent perspiration model. By keeping sellers on message when pivoting to time-sensitive opportunities or capturing niche market share, AI-powered sales enablement facilitates the next wave of sales efficiency, productivity, and results.
A version of this article originally appeared on TrainingMag.com.