How AI Can Improve Your B2B Sales And Marketing in 2019 + [Infographic]
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the ability of a machine to perform cognitive or logical functions such as; reasoning, learning, problem solving, perception, creativity and environmental interactions, that are usually associated with humans.
Artificial Intelligence is divided into several broad categories. Some of them are:
- Machine Learning: This is made up of Deep Learning and Neural Networks.
- Computer Vision: This includes image processing and video.
- Virtual Agents and Conversational Interfaces, e.g. Chatbots.
- Physical Artificial Intelligence: This includes robotics and self-driving cars.
- Natural Language Processing: This consists of both spoken and written language.
Technological advancements have always been known to revolutionize the way of doing things. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one technology that is rapidly becoming a competitive tool in the business arena. It has greatly affected marketing, especially in the area of B2B sales; and it has the potential to do more in that sphere.
AI has changed the way businesses interact with one another, and with their customers about products and services. Many business leaders have moved from merely appreciating the benefits of AI to actively looking at ways in which AI can be advantageous to the growth of their business.
Artificial Intelligence For Sales
The internet and other technological advancements, particularly in big data, algorithm and computer hardware, have made reaching a high number of potential customers easier for businesses. As good as this may sound, it also means that the competition among companies, to get noticed is now fiercer. Hence, this poses the need for businesses to work on differentiating their brands well enough to stand out for customers to buy from them.
Any business that sells products and services would always be looking at how to bring in more sales. To achieve this, companies could hire more staff; drive employee performance; consolidate on existing marketing structures or build new ones. All of these could be steps in the right direction, but one reliable and currently trending process that can help businesses to record massive sales is AI technology.
There are several ways AI can help a business to improve sales. Some of them are:
- Improving Sales without Hiring More Staff: This is one way AI has helped businesses to increase revenue while cutting down on cost. Instead of businesses spending money to hire more salespeople as a means to increase sales, AI is helping them to solve the problem by looking at and analyzing how the top performing sales personnel are working; and then sharing the findings with the rest of the sales team. Every member of the team is being allowed to contribute in any little way possible and also the performance of the poorly performing team members is enhanced through the provision of necessary information and tools they require for improvement.
- Providing Invaluable Assistance to Salespeople: Some specific AI sales and marketing tools can identify patterns, process numbers and analyze huge amounts of data within little time; thus, enhancing business processes. The ability to do these makes AI a highly useful assistant to salespeople, by providing them with accurate content and suggestions on which customers have the highest probability to purchase more or will prefer which product, thus allowing sales personnel to target customers on upselling or cross-sell basis specifically.
- Lead Scoring: AI has revolutionized sales by taking over the mundane tasks of finding and sorting leads, orders monitoring and communicating with customers and prospects, which the sales teams were once responsible for, allowing them to concentrate their efforts on closing sales and meeting sales targets.
- Processing More Data Accurately: Salespeople usually rely on their sales experience and intuition to reach decisions about which customers or prospects are likely going their products. Conversely, AI takes the guesswork out of the process of identifying potential leads by analyzing prospects’ profiles to pinpoint, not just leads but to also predict behaviour, as well as suggest products the potential customer need, prefer or might be interested in.
- Exploring Every Area of Opportunity and Providing Insights: AI, using one of its programs can look through and analyze millions of data to pick out patterns and correlations, which a human could not see or overlook; and suggest ways such opportunities could be explored and developed.
Artificial Intelligence For B2B Marketing
On a general basis, AI has impacted enormously on B2B marketing in terms of personalization of the process; and in the accompanying efficiency of marketing efforts. Some of the specific ways AI can help to improve the B2B marketing process are highlighted below:
- Intelligent Marketing: Because AI can effectively compress and analyze big data from various sources; join the dots in the data to find relationships, and make accurate predictions within reasonable time, something which humans with their limited resources as well as other limitations are unable to achieve, B2B marketers are now using AI capabilities to enhance business intelligence, research and forecasting.
- Better Customer Experience Management: Businesses use AI to understand and manage customer relationships better. These days, the majority of individuals makes buying enquiries and does their shopping online. AI tools, such as Chatbots help to make it easier for businesses to connect and interact with their customers. Some of these tools are even capable of interpreting buyers’ request and completing their orders. More so, the ability of AI to respond promptly to customer messages helps to enhance customer loyalty.
- Better Ads Targeting: AI can gather huge amounts of historical marketing data and analyze them to find out which Ads work better on which group of people, and at which phase of the buying process did they connect with the Ads. This knowledge can help marketers to accomplish more through the creation of effective content and proper Ads placement.
- Timely Decisions Making: The significance of timing in B2B or any sales and marketing can never be over-emphasized. With the use of AI tools, marketers can identify the right time to make some crucial marketing decisions, such as deciding accurately, the right time to engage potential customers to get them to buy.
- Brand Building: Through the analysis of data from multiple sources, AI can provide marketers with insights on brand positioning, enabling them to create their marketing campaigns in a fashion that reinforces their brand. Marketers also use AI tools to generate brand-specific contents that appeal to the customer thereby, amplifying their brand messages.
Artificial Intelligence For Leads Generation
Every business, regardless of how much or how well they are currently selling, wants to rake in more revenue through sales.
Lead generation is the act of generating leads that are considered relevant for a specific business or industry, then evaluating them according to their possibility to be an opportunity. There are many ways to generate leads, and these include:
- Offline Method: This method of leads generation dates back to the old times of Traditional marketing, where marketers are required to attend and also organize conferences, send cold emails, make cold calls in a bid to reach out to potential leads for their businesses.
- Digital Method: This method of leads generation could be: Organic, where you use your digital asset or platform, like your website and social media handles, to get potential customers to reach out to you or acquire your solutions and services. Paid, where you use paid adverts to draw potential customers to your website, to get them to decide about whether or not to contact you or acquire your product, services or solutions. Outreach, where you use social media and other third-party data sources to identify leads that could be interested in your product or service and reach out to them through messages, calls, emails or personalized ads.
- Each of the above methods of generating leads has its strengths as well as weaknesses; essentially, the amount of leads they can generate represents only a small fraction of the leads of most modern businesses. The fact remains that the speed, scope and potential of modern-day business require more leads than these methods can deliver; and this is where AI technology in leads generation becomes invaluable. Below are a few of the ways AI is used for lead generation:
- Proper Time Management: It is the objective of any sales team to invest more time into selling and less time into trying to find the next potential customer. However, in reality, salespeople usually spend so much time on leads generation instead of actual sales, because the process of leads generation takes up so much time. But with AI technology, businesses can automate leads generation to enable salespeople to give more time to sales.
- Real-Time Customer Profiles: Before now, businesses have relied on customer profiles, captured from past purchasing data and Customer Relationship database, as a template for targeting new customers to ensure better leads. But, these customer profiles they use a template are seldom effective for better leads generation; because they fail to address the changes in current trends hence, they do not accurately portray the purchasing mindset of the current customer. However, AI is capable of generating relevant and real-time consumer information and also isolates customers who are likely to buy a product from those who are merely making enquiries about them.
- Leads from Social Media Campaigns: Social media Ads platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook can provide valuable analytical data on advert campaigns, but most times, these are not sufficient to generate quality leads. However, with the AI technology more than analytical data on campaigns are provided; AI tools can assess and tell which specific parts of an advert are more effective as well as provide insight on the best way to target and connect better with potential customers.
- Leads from Customer Queries: Asides their ability to effectively field questions from customers, AI technology tools like Chatbots, can also assess the customer. During conversations, Chatbots can ask customers or potential a series of questions to generate a profile. Once they get a profile that matches certain criteria, the client will be transferred on to an agent as a possible lead.
The Future Of AI in Sales And Marketing
Undoubtedly, AI has a lot of potential in practical application for sales and marketing now and the future. However, despite its popularity, there are still a lot of people who fear AI’s potential for extensive use, particularly because of speculations that it could render numerous jobs unnecessary, through the elimination of human intervention in work processes.
Nevertheless, a major percentage of the leading marketing companies and businesses are already using AI to drive sales, and the remaining percentage is ready to “catch the bug” soon.
There are predictions that by the year 2020, real-time ads personalization will become a reality; and also new AI-powered platforms will bring a whole lot of benefits to sales and marketing. Some of these predicted benefits are thus:
- The alignment of sales and marketing, such that both divides will work in unison to achieve greater business goals.
- An enhanced understanding of the customer journey; which will be useful for the creation and sending out of appropriate messages, managing of pricing and sales strategies, as well as for the maximization of revenue.
- Improved context-appropriate targeting of customers; in line with their pain points.
- Improvements in terms of precision in adverts messaging.
- Improvements in the accuracy of customer segmentation and targeting.
The brand of consumers that exist today expect to get value out of good and services, even before they pay for them; they also want to be assured that the brand is truly interested in them and their needs. This crop of consumers also expects brands and businesses to know what exactly it is they want and provide them with it. They are in constant need of answers, assistance and suggestions to help them make the right buying decisions.
Furthermore, this trend is spiralling and will continue until it spirals into an unending circle. Hence, it is clear that any business that wants to keep up with the ever-growing demands and expectations of customers; and also wants to rank up its B2B sales and marketing must, as a matter of urgency, adopt the practical application of AI in its processes.