As Arthur C. Clarke once wrote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Accordingly, Justin Michael and Tony Hughes predict that versatile sales bots are likely to run B2B sales in the future. For example, a rep’s artificial intelligence (AI) sales bot could “ping-pong” with a buyer’s bot to start a sales process that the two people then pursue. To maintain relevance and viability, reps must master AI, sales technology and the increasingly influential B2B sales bots.
- Seventy percent of today’s B2B sales function can be automated.
- The tech tools B2B sales reps must master may prove intimidating, but you must learn them.
- STEVE, a digital virtual sales assistant, offers a fascinating look at the future of B2B sales.
- Whatever the capabilities of AI bots and other advanced technologies, they lack sales reps’ human qualities.
- Radical change will affect B2B sales in the years to come.
- To become a “cybernetic salesperson,” model your work on tech-sales genius Remington Rawlings.
- As you gain superior tech-sales knowledge, leverage your new skills for greater sales.
Seventy percent of today’s B2B sales function can be automated.
Amazing high-tech developments, including vast automation, routinely appear today in B2B sales. A staggering 70% of B2B sales processes are capable of being automated, a percentage that will increase in the future.
“For the first time in history, capital applied to technology can fully replace expensive and high-overhead humans.”
Sales reps who fail to stay current with today’s high-tech advances risk losing their jobs. To stay commercially viable, reps must master sales data, AI and sales technology. Additionally, they should develop or enhance their knowledge and expertise in computer science, math and applied statistics – as well as in the use of spreadsheets. Salespeople will benefit from gaining proficiency in SQL, Tableau, JS, Python and R. Keeping up with the high-tech developments in B2B sales is tough, but salespeople need to acquire these skills to keep up with future demands.
The tech tools B2B sales reps must master may prove intimidating, but you must learn them.
With the sales-technology advances now underway, B2B sales professionals face the challenge of becoming sales-tech stack experts. The market already offers a confusing variety of tech choices, with more appearing daily. Becoming a sales-tech expert can be a daunting – and for many reps, a paralyzing – undertaking.
“What if an AI could go out and synthesize every possible data source on the internet, prioritize it all, and act on it with the relevant message, at the relevant time, with the optimal prospect in your ICP within a nanosecond, weaponizing relevant insight – and then only bother involving you when the potential buyer is ready, much deeper down the funnel?”
The big question for B2B sales reps is: How can you start learning the available sales technology? These examples offer initial high-tech connections and relevant recommendations:
- First, hook up with Salesforce, the sales industry’s innovation kingpin. Einstein by Salesforce is a powerful AI tool that “analyzes CRM data to identify deal risk and provide forecast accuracy.” Hubspot and Microsoft Dynamics offer sound “CRM/CX/marketing automation.”
- The best source for leads is LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
- The best sales-engagement platforms (SEPs) are Outreach, SalesLoft, Groove and XANT. Aaron Janmohamed of XANT recommends that salespeople “capture and harness real-time engagement and outcome data, refreshed constantly from across a network of buyers and sellers.”
- For automation, turn to web services and APIs that can connect systems. Applications include Tray.io, Workato, Zapier, Syncari, Automate.io and IFTT (If This Then That).
- MixMax is great for automating your workflow, including your calendar, automatic answers and following up on cold-call emails.
- Quality data-enrichment options include Cognism, ZoomInfo/Discover, Adapt.io, SalesIntel.io and LeadIQ.
- Popular parallel assisted dialers (PADS) include ConnectAndSell, ConnectLeader and Orum. PADs automate dialing and connecting with live prospects. ConnectandSell’s CEO Chris Beall suggests a target of more than 30 useful sales discussions daily.
- Dialers that work directly with the CRM – and capture calls in it – include RingDNA, Aircall, Dialpad and Truly.
- Use Google Meet, Teams or Zoom.us for remote digital meetings.
- ZoomInfo Scoops, InsideView, Navigator and Triggr.ai monitor trigger events for sales opportunities.
- Select an automated system that offers full compliance with GDPR, CCPA, CASL and CAN-SPAM regulations.
- B2B sales reps also need to become expert at Boolean searches. Those who fail to do so will find themselves operating at the kindergarten level, while competitors with sophisticated Boolean skills function at the college level. The Boolean expertise you need goes far beyond the level of the wizard in Sales Navigator.
STEVE, a digital virtual sales assistant, offers a fascinating look at the future of B2B sales.
In this scenario, Sally is the sales rep and Mary is the prospect. STEVE (Sales Team Enablement Virtual Entity) is the digital virtual sales assistant providing sales AI. In this busy trio, STEVE is the busiest actor; it sets up meetings between Sally and Mary and takes extensive notes.
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” (Alan Kay, former chief scientist at Atari)
Before meetings, STEVE gives Sally comprehensive intelligence about Mary concerning her attitudes, preferences and desires as found in business articles and other public communications. STEVE’s information includes a personalized profile of Mary, including her “personality style and values…personal interests and affiliations.”
STEVE monitors their meetings while communicating directly with Sally. It shows an engagement meter that reads Mary’s “body language, facial expressions, tone of voice” and language. STEVE suggests questions Sally should ask Mary.
Based on the tenor of the conversation, STEVE recommends specific words and phrases Sally should use. It suggests which case histories will resonate most strongly with Mary. After each meeting, STEVE coaches Sally on how to perform better during her next session with Mary. STEVE computes an estimated value for the pending deal and suggests a closing date. With AI assistance, Sally closes the sale with Mary. Experiences similar to this sale that STEVE supported will become commonplace in the future.
Whatever the capabilities of AI bots and other advanced technologies, they lack sales reps’ human qualities.
Where does the pending tech takeover in sales leave B2B reps in the interim?
“We have a supercomputer between our ears, the greatest AI ever, that can be used for higher-value activities such as talking to customers.”
To remain relevant as technology becomes increasingly dominant, follow this four-point plan:
- Machines can’t demonstrate empathy. They can’t tell stories or develop and share wise insights tailored to individual prospects. No machine can duplicate these human capabilities, so sales reps must become empathetic, insightful storytellers to connect with their prospects.
- People have a sixth sense that enables them to navigate complicated issues despite risk, uncertainty and sensitive subjects. This is where salespeople – not machines – can shine.
- In B2B sales, commodification is a killer. Avoid it by doing the hard work of becoming an expert consultant in your area, able to educate prospects on how to use your offerings to improve their businesses.
- Enhance your technology quotient (TQ) at every turn. This should include designing a personal tech stack for your private use. TQ is the capability of adjusting to tech advances and developing strategies for incorporating technology in your job and personal life.
Radical change will affect B2B sales in the years to come.
As technology continues to change everything dramatically, what does the future hold for B2B sales? Most people who speculate about this get it wrong.
“We overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10.” (Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce)
Consider these long-term predictions regarding the future of B2B sales:
- Virtual sales and remote work will become the norm. Many firms no longer recruit potential salespeople based on location. In the future, most companies will hire sales reps based on their business, communication and technical skills, not where they live.
- As sales and marketing increasingly merge, chief revenue officers (CROs) will gain the final say over sales operations.
- They will drive the client and sales experience, design messages and campaigns, direct data management and oversee integrating the company’s sales technology.
- Companies will invest less in outside sales and more in technology and inside sales.
- Technology will be the launch point for all B2B sales interactions, and machines will hand off potential sales transactions to reps.
- The number of field sales reps will decrease by one-third by 2030.
- Sales-tech tools will attract $5 billion in new investments, resulting in a burst of new sales technology.
- By 2025, expect a start-up to demonstrate it can operate with “SDR ex Machina” featuring automated funnel-loading and closings. In other words, no human beings will be necessary to initiate, follow up or close a sale. Software will run the entire sales circuit.
- By 2027, digital virtual sales assistants (DVSAs) will become a reality. Still, salespeople must contribute the empathy and leadership no machine can offer.
- Over the phone and via text chat, sales AI already passed the Turing test: “Can a machine impersonate real human interaction?” The next step is gauging how well AI can pass the Turing test on a Zoom sales call.
- The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will require warning labels on content generated by AI.
- Governments will outlaw machine-created human contact via phone or video calls.
- With Microsoft and Salesforce in the lead, CRM will evolve into a complete customer experience (CX).
- High-profile acquisitions will abound in the sales-technology sector.
- Functioning as coaches and participants, sales managers will assume the primary responsibility in closing big deals.
- Virtual sales training – including eLearning – will offer AI role-playing using avatars on Zoom.
- AI bots will sell anything classified as commodities.
- Giant tech corporations will dominate.
- As technology advances, so will unemployment and resentment of the technology sector.
- By around 2055, bots will run sales transactions.
To become a “cybernetic salesperson,” model your work on tech-sales genius Remington Rawlings.
B2B salespeople must strive to become “salesborgs,” able to use a blend of tech and human selling. Remington Rawlings, co-founder of Extrovert.io, a popular online seller, exemplifies this transformation, which results from B2B salespeople embracing advanced technology to increase sales.
“The bots are now coming for B2B sellers.”
Rawlings became a tech salesperson while a college student. His dual responsibilities made it tough for him to attain his monthly sales quota. Understanding he had to travel the extra mile to sell, Rawlings jumped into sales technology. He “read and studied, tested, practiced [and] collaborated” to connect with his sales-tech stack, his personalized combination of technologies consisting of programming languages, databases, front-end and back-end tools, and applications connected via application programming interfaces (APIs).
Once Rawlings understood in detail how every platform functioned, he created massive email content able to bypass spam filters to connect with his most likely prospects. He achieved results by focusing on tech. He created a $2.5 million pipeline including a variety of major corporations and regularly attained 150% of his sales quota. Rawlings used Extrovert.io to give his colleagues the context of his success, focusing on how to scale automation and share methods across sales teams. To match Rawlings, build up your TQ, keep learning and apply your new knowledge to enhance your sales.
As you gain superior tech-sales knowledge, leverage your new skills for greater sales.
Almost always, failure results from poor execution. You can gain superior knowledge of advanced sales-tech services and tools, but if you don’t leverage the technology, your sales will remain level or drop.
“The customer was 96, partially deaf and visually impaired but bought the encyclopedia set on a payment plan. ‘Eve seemed like such a lovely, thoughtful girl, and promised to come visit in Zoom anytime I feel a bit lonely or confused’.”
As a B2B sales professional in this swift and dynamic machine-automation age, you must begin to handle things at a new level, create the sales-tech stack that works for you and put it to work.
About the Authors
Justin Michael, who set records for full-cycle revenue creation in cutting-edge SaaS, inspired the COMBO Prospecting sales pipeline. Tony Hughes is the co-founder and sales innovation director at Sales IQ Global.
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