Artificial Intelligence In Sales: Is It Worth The Investment?

The International Data Corporation (IDC) recently released its Worldwide Semiannual Cognitive Artificial Intelligence Systems Spending Guide, which predicts that spending on sales process recommendation and automation will reach $1.45 billion this year. David Schubmehl, research director at IDC, noted that: 

“Interest and awareness of AI is at a fever pitch. Every industry and every organization should be evaluating AI to see how it will affect their business processes and go-to-market efficiencies.” This warning is as relevant to sales leaders as much as anybody.

My own experience supports this. An increasing number of my clients are looking at “sales process recommendation and guided selling,” or artificial intelligence (AI)-driven sales enablement, to give it the more standard industry term. They see it as a way to consistently replicate successful sales outcomes and streamline the sales process. 

While I haven’t played a role in their buying decision, I have experienced firsthand the impact of less-than-optimal implementations, the pros and cons of the software, and the advantages and potential pitfalls for sales leaders who invest in it.

As sales leaders live through one of the biggest changes in the way business to business (B2B) customers engage in the buying process, this has the potential to be huge. Implemented correctly, the model even has the agility to reflect the needs of different sales channels and buying habits across industries or regions. Implemented incorrectly, it just reinforces old buying habits and fails to move the dial in a positive manner.

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