April 6, 2017
Updated: May 28, 2020

AI: A Short Acronym with a Big Payoff

For some, artificial intelligence (AI) means self-driving cars. For others, it means virtual reality video games. For marketing and sales, AI means the technology needed to personalize the buying experience to each customer. According to the Harvard Business Review, companies that use AI in sales see significant value, including more than a 50% increase in leads and appointments, up to 60% of cost reductions, and 60% to 70% reduction in call time. AI can make the entire buying cycle more efficient, positioning it as a pivotal part of any enterprise sales enablement solution.

Big Wins for Marketing

A survey by DemandBase and Wakefield Research revealed that 80% of marketing leaders believe AI will revolutionize marketing by the year 2020. Already, AI helps predict and automate marketing efforts, taking a lot of the manual labor out of the practice.

To be most effective, marketers must create personalized content for each customer at every stage of the sales funnel. For years, technology has helped identify what content works and when, but humans still had to generate that content.

Let’s take a look at IBM’s Watson. The world met Watson in 2011 when it competed on Jeopardy! against former winners Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings – a highly visible showdown of man versus machine. In the following years, marketing teams have adopted this technology not as an enemy but as a resource. Watson’s sophisticated design can understand complex data, including unstructured text and images, and can provide suggestions based on human qualities, such as tone and personality.

Watson will even help home chefs be better arbiters of flavor profiles and ingredient combinations when they’re cooking, allowing for more successful creative meals. This might seem tangential to marketing, but it’s not. It’s an example of a personalized user experience at its finest, which is what marketers should be striving for.

With technology like Watson, marketing can take the insights they’ve been gathering for years and use them in an entirely new way. Machines can synthesize that data and generate things like personas, personalized content, and recommendations, freeing up marketers’ time to focus on other priorities.

And Bigger Wins for Sales

AI can help sales by making intelligent recommendations for dealing with potential customers. We’ve written previously about how buyers are now more informed by the time they talk to a salesperson. Since they’ve already done preliminary research prior to talking to a seller, that seller needs to craft a strategic plan to close deals. The best sales forces will incorporate AI in that strategy.

Think about how your initial sales call could change if you had the technology to identify your ideal customers and find prospects that match your personas. Everything could be personalized from the first outreach, which you can scale and use throughout campaigns.

AI can identify customer pain points and recommend solutions, taking a lot of the guesswork out of your prospect interactions. Your conversation will be more meaningful when you know exactly when and where and how to delight your customer.

In search of more good stuff to read? Let us point you to our guide, “What is sales enablement?”