B2B buyers are increasingly empowered to choose when and how to engage with sales. As buyer demands for personalized and relevant information increase, organizations have an opportunity to gain a competitive edge by investing in data-driven technologies to inform and empower sellers. Sales force automation (SFA) is not just the cornerstone technology for sales organizations; it’s rapidly evolving into an essential seller empowerment tool. While SFA has historically encompassed administrative management tools for monitoring and forecasting sales opportunities, today’s solutions better utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to improve seller responsiveness, drive deeper and more meaningful customer engagement, and deliver highly personalized experiences for today’s buyers.
In October 2017, Microsoft commissioned Forrester Consulting to evaluate the use of sales force automation and other AI tools among B2B enterprises around the world. Forrester conducted an online survey with 274respondents who are responsible for decisions regarding their organizations’ sales technologies to explore this topic. We found that AI and predictive tools are on the rise to unlock data across customer applications so that sellers may better predict and deliver what buyers want.
- Increasing B2B customer demands mandate new selling methods. Digitally empowered customers expect digitally empowered sales reps who can efficiently provide them with relevant and personalized information. Most B2B sales organizations are not equipped to meet this challenge today, but leaders are making it a top priority to provide this customer experience, as their revenues depend on it.
- Sales reps don’t have easy access to customer insights and spend too much time mired in administrative work. Sellers understand how their customers are evolving and are trying their best to keep up, but they have too much data and not enough insight to do anything with it. Further, dealing with overly time-consuming administrative processes often takes a seller’s attention away from interacting directly with customers. Investments in tools that automate seller grunt work and recommend next-best sales actions will allow reps to have more frequent and more valuable client interactions.
- AI and automation are key to sales success. Sales force automation is a rapidly changing piece of the sales technology stack. AI and machine learning will continue to improve these and other solutions, driving a multitude of benefits both for the customer and the business, ranging from the automation of simple tasks to the deeply personalized recommendations at each step of the sales process.