A lot has been said about AI and the potential it holds for us humans – it has been touted as the panacea and also called the harbinger of global Armageddon.
While both these possibilities are exaggerated, one thing that is evident is that there are many benefits to AI, one of which is the role it can play in fostering better sales and marketing alignment.
Companies with strongly aligned sales and marketing teams enjoy higher win rates (38%) and are better at closing deals (67%) (Forrester). However, aligning these two departments is often easier said than done. This is where artificial intelligence (AI) comes into play.
Here are 5 different ways in which AI can help bridge the gap between sales and marketing:
Gather more insights on leads:
Lead quality has been a long-standing issue between sales and marketing. Quality becomes an issue when the teams lack access to the right set of data and insights. This is because there is only so much a passive analytics tool can accomplish when challenged with data gaps.
AI tools have the ability to enrich leads by automatically appending missing or additional information from external third party sources. These enriched leads provide marketing teams more insights to work with and help sales by identifying high-quality leads that are more likely to convert.
Provide insight driven recommendations in real time:
Sales and marketing teams today have a plethora of tools – BI, CRM, marketing automation etc. at their disposal, but often these tools fail to have any major impact on sales. This is because most of these tools are designed to automate tasks or processes and not think or reason like people would. AI-powered tools, on the other hand, are designed to learn and reason.
A good AI tool can take into account a number of parameters such as purchase history and disposable income, and use predictive intelligence to target leads that have the highest levels of buying intent.
And it can do so in real time. By providing recommendations in real time, AI-powered tools allow sales and marketing teams to channel their efforts to derive the best possible outcomes.
Real-time query solving at scale:
Businesses today realize ‘helping is the new selling’. Instead of pushing products on people, they know that they need to help people see if their product would be a right fit to solve the business problem.
Sales and marketing teams play a key role by serving as a resource to educate potential customers. However, the challenge is that it is not possible for these teams to be around 24/7 to respond to queries leads may have – research, in fact, shows that the best time to respond to a new lead is within 5 minutes (Oldroyd, 2007) – this is where AI-powered tools can help.
An intelligent AI tool integrated with the company’s knowledge base or a CRM system can assess requirements, send out personalized contextual replies instantly and it can do so at scale. Being able to scale the ability to be helpful with AI allows small sales and marketing organizations to do more and appear bigger.
Optimize content attribution:
The use of AI-powered tools can significantly contribute to increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of content, ensuring that the investments in content are paid back in high-quality leads and more deals win.
Leads today use multiple sources to get the information before contacting a company’s sales rep, which makes it vital to track and attribute content that the lead sources. By identifying and attributing the right sources that deliver the best results for sales, marketers can not only generate lead volume, but also the revenue.
Provide intelligent marketing and sales forecasting:
Traditional analytics tools limit marketing and sales forecasting to just the data available in the CRM system. However, 90% of sales activities happen outside the CRM system: meetings, emails, presentations, calls, market research, follow-ups etc., (Docurated, 2016).
This means the critical data needed resides in different places, such as email, laptops, and hard drives – it never makes into the CRM. This is where most traditional BI & analytics tools available today fail because they only touch the tip of the iceberg when it comes to leveraging sales and marketing data.
Whereas, a powerful AI enabled tool can tap into the core of business and absorb what’s going on across departments or the organization itself.
Such a tool can automatically update the organizational database with the sales and marketing information from across all sources in real time. And utilize this continuous sales and marketing data feed to discover relevant insights, predict future behaviour, proactively recommend best next actions and forecast more accurate sales projections.
Allowing sales and marketing teams time to better allocate resources and identify prospective bottlenecks and additional opportunities.
Sales and marketing alignment is all about collaboration – working in tandem towards a common goal – bringing more revenue to the company. AI bridges the gap between them by eliminating the need to spend time on mundane tasks.
It effectively frees both the teams to do their jobs – this means that marketing can spend more time understanding their customers and developing creative campaigns, and sales can spend more time building relationships with prospects and developing a deeper understanding of what makes them tick.
It gives more time for both teams to actively foster alignment, and find ways to better help each other to reach their shared goals.