How AI Is Changing Sales | Harvard Business Review

Companies are using AI in all kinds of innovative ways to advance their businesses. If you’ve ever searched Netflix to watch a movie, AI (a recommendation algorithm) was no doubt used in your decision about what to watch.  If you’ve shopped on Amazon, your decision about what to buy was also influenced by AI (via an association algorithm).  If you’ve ever ordered an Uber, AI (a location algorithm) was used to have a car in your vicinity quickly.  If you ever had a thought about a product or a vacation, and it seemed to suddenly pop up on your search page or in your email inbox, I can assure you it was based on AI (a classification algorithm) monitoring your online activity.

These same types of AI algorithms can be used to power any company’s decision-making process, helping you make better business predictions. Based on research for my book Sales Ex Machina: How Artificial Intelligence is Changing the World of Selling, here are five specific areas where AI algorithms can be leveraged to help your business grow by helping your sales team sell more:

Price Optimization: Knowing what discount, if any, to give a client is always a tricky situation. You want to win the deal, but at the same time you don’t want to leave money on the table.  Today, an AI algorithm could tell you what the ideal discount rate should be for a proposal to ensure that you’re most likely to win the deal by looking at specific features of each past deal that was won or lost. Features could include: size of the deal in terms of dollar amount, product specification compliance, number of competitors, company size, territory/region, client’s industry, client’s annual revenues, public or private company, level of decision-makers (influencers) involved, timing (e.g., Q2 vs Q4), new or existing client, etc.

Forecasting: Sales managers face the daunting challenge of trying to predict where their team’s total sales numbers will fall each quarter. Using an AI algorithm, managers are now able to predict with a high degree of accuracy next quarter’s revenue, which in turn would help a company, from an operations standpoint, to better manage inventory and resources.

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How AI Is Changing Sales.