How AI is transforming B2B marketing and Sales
Erika Rykun, Copywriter & content creator
23 September 2019
This is a guest post written by Erika Rykun a Copy writer & content creator
Kate is a B2B sales assistant and she’s great at what she does. As a matter of fact, she’s exceptional since she happens to be the best in not only her sales team, but also the rest of the company.
She’s always engaging prospects and she has this unparalleled ability to qualify new leads. Her favorite channels are email and social media, from which she has managed to consistently bring in solid prospects.
And for the leads that fail to get back to her, she always follows up relentlessly. That’s how she has managed to surpass every single salesperson she met in the company. Yet, surprisingly, she has only been around for a couple of months.
Another notable thing about her is that she never takes sick days or vacations. That means she’s been working round the clock on weekdays as well as weekends.
But, here’s the kicker- Kate is not an actual person. Rather, she’s an artificial intelligence system built for identifying leads, engaging them, and then subsequently qualifying them.
You can think of her as a blend of chatbot tools and analytical capabilities. Consequently, she can process data accurately at a rate that has never been witnessed before.
Well, that’s the modern B2B sales scene for you. While artificial intelligence is just getting started, it’s already creating ripples across all industries. That’s why 80% of B2B marketing executives acknowledge that we’re on the verge of an AI business revolution.
Then get this. A recent survey of 3,500 marketers revealed that the one technology that they are bound to adopt by 2020 is AI.
So, the fact is, artificial intelligence is here and there’s no denying it. Companies are excitedly leveraging it in their marketing as well as sales processes. And from the look of things, this trend is increasingly picking up as AI continues to advance.
However, that notwithstanding, AI has had its fair share of controversies. It has attracted a lot of debate about its reliability, and various legal questions are arising, especially when it comes to the privacy boundaries of AI.
Well, whatever your opinions are about AI, it’s evident that it’s indeed transforming how we handle B2B marketing and sales.
Here are 5 examples of changes we’re currently experiencing and some that are set to roll out in the near future:
Predicting Leads Accurately
Admit it. The lead qualification process is painfully difficult and challenging. B2B salespeople have been struggling to apply various methods of identifying the perfect targets but the costs just keep increasing.
One thing we can agree on is this. It’s discouraging when you repeatedly dedicate a lot of resources to specific leads only to lose them later.
Thankfully, artificial intelligence is progressively changing the whole process by sealing such loopholes in the targeting process. Businesses are now learning how to use AI to identify specific leads with the highest conversion potential.
AI is turning out to be much more accurate than humans because of its unmatched power of calculating probabilities based on big data intelligence. Analytical tools dig into raw information and then use it to separate the wheat from the chaff.
In fact, it’s expected that businesses will continue supplementing their information sources to improve their accuracy levels. That means a single company can have its AI system connected to numerous databases across various platforms for streamlined data harvesting and analysis.
Such approaches help salespeople refine their targeting processes and, subsequently, predict their chances of conversion at the beginning of the sales funnel.
Granting Sales Teams Accurate and Relevant Insights
Let’s face it. Most of the unique selling points today are largely based on guesswork. Although B2B salespeople usually have a rough idea of their prospect’s needs beforehand, they lack the tiniest most critical details that would drive conversions.
And that’s precisely where AI is now proving to be handy. It essentially converts raw data into relevant insights that businesses could use to accurately profile their prospects. Marketers, on the other hand, take advantage of the insights when it comes to audience targeting.
Now, the good thing about data is that it doesn’t lie. So, artificial intelligence systems are helping teams improve their precision through actionable insights generated from raw data. Quite a simple way of eliminating the guesswork.
The problem, however, is that AI systems are not running at their peak levels yet. But, since their analytical engines are getting better with time, the average conversion rate is expected to increase gradually over the long haul.
That’s not to say we haven’t seen great results so far. Modern platforms like Nudge are already transforming the industry by sorting through huge amounts of web data. More specifically, its AI and machine learning tools conduct deep analysis to generate relevant insights about leads’ interests.
Reducing Overhead Costs
Artificial intelligence is not about increasing alone. It turns out that some companies are taking advantage of AI to reduce too.
According to a report published by Deloitte, companies that have effectively streamlined their processes with AI have been able to reduce their standard overhead costs by 40-60%.
In the marketing and sales cycles, AI systems are already being implemented in core administrative and decision-making processes that were previously exclusive to humans. And considering AI is faster and more accurate, this ultimately boosts overall efficiency while minimizing resource usage.
Salespeople, on the other hand, get the time and space to focus their efforts on closing deals. With AI taking care of repetitive tasks, companies can now prioritize their relationships with new and existing clients. In addition to helping with this, AI is expected to assist the company’s inner processes. Hiring a new employee or looking for the right agreement? AI can make “smart contracts” a reality, as LegalZoom suggests.
A perfect example of such an AI system is X.ai, which typically serves as a personal assistant that can plan and set up meetings. It embeds with your calendar and then proceeds to book meetings for you via email while you handle other businesses.
This saves employees the cumbersome process of following up with numerous prospects at the same time. So, in the end, a sales rep simply walks into a scheduled meeting to close a deal.
If there’s one thing modern B2B companies have in plenty, then its data. They have accumulated loads and loads of information about their markets as well as audiences. And they still continue to harvest more from third-party platforms and their own CRM systems.
But, interestingly, all that data is useless because it only makes them data-rich. While the principal point here is enhancing the sales and promotions, it becomes confusing for marketers to use the data in its raw form. So, in essence, the companies are unable to properly take advantage of their terabytes.
Well, at least until they implement a solid AI framework. Artificial intelligence is effective at converting such data into usable insights, which then form a foundation for automating the sales funnel journey.
If another business shows interest in your company by clicking on an ad, for example, the AI system picks that up immediately and proceeds to analyze their level of interest based on their historical data. The resultant insights are then subsequently used to determine the best automated course of action.
So, all in all, automation systems are now working hand in hand with AI engines for increased efficacy. They are essentially making informed decisions on their own without human input or supervision.
Facilitating Account-Based Marketing
Marketing has always followed the same old structure of first reaching out to the masses, before systematically qualifying the best leads while leaving out the cold ones. That’s the whole point of the traditional marketing funnel.
Well, not for much longer now because AI is changing the entire framework. Instead of beginning with the masses, marketers are now flipping the funnel upside down. That means they target specific company web accounts from the word go, thanks to the power of AI.
This approach is known as account-based marketing and it’s saving professionals the trouble of dealing with unqualified audiences. Artificial intelligence systems simply analyze extensive amounts of data to provide insights like the sizes of various companies, plus their corresponding revenue, employee count, web behaviors, etc.
Then from that, marketers are able to pick their principal audience accounts straight away. They consequently launch heavily-personalized campaigns, which continue to provide better results than conventional marketing funnels.
From these five case examples, it’s evident that AI is not here to replace B2B salespeople and marketers. But rather, it continues to supplement their efforts by helping them manage their processes, automate repetitive tasks, reduce overall costs, as well as boost sales and marketing efficacy levels.
Let’s see what the future holds for B2B companies as they continue to invest in AI.
About the author: Erika Rykun is a content strategist and producer who believes in the power of networking and quality writing. She’s an avid reader, writer, and runner.