Like all new innovations, artificial intelligence has been met with both wariness and hope. This has been true in the B2B selling space as well.
The fear is that artificial intelligence will take decision-making power away from reps and managers. The hope is that it will help boost sales.
As with many revolutions, hope is becoming more of an urgent necessity while sales professionals turn to AI in an increasingly turbulent environment.
The revolution is here: AI in B2B sales is not optional – it’s required
The changes roiling the B2B sales space are driven by rising customer expectations, spurred by the improved buying experience in the consumer world. Customers want speed and the best price, and they are prone to switch vendors if they don’t get what they want.
Sales forces are also undergoing a lot of churn. According to Forbes, there is a 34% annual turnover and the average sales rep tenure is now under two years. At the same time, on-boarding reps is taking up to six months.
Clearly, something has to give. That’s why businesses are casting aside their fears and looking to AI as a solution.
In the area of Configure Price, Quote (CPQ), artificial intelligence — or more accurately, augmented intelligence — has a particularly large role to play in helping sales reps keep up.
Here are some of the AI capabilities in CPQ to help meet these urgent needs:
AI-powered guided selling: The right bundle or configuration can be assembled, and the number of clicks it takes for a rep to accurately assemble the right configuration or bundle is reduced.
AI pricing: Machine learning is applied to pricing, so the price is optimized for the customer and situation. The price can be suggested, not imposed, leaving some room for sales rep/manager discretion.
AI-powered discount discipline: Suggests pricing within acceptable limits for maintaining company profitability/margins.
AI configuration: Provides suggested optimal configurations of products and services to win a deal.
These innovations can help reduce the time needed to get quotes to the customer and allow revisions to be calculated quickly. It can also help get the customer the best price possible within the confines of the company’s business model.
Finally, AI in B2B sales can shorten the ramp-up time of new reps while increasing the ability to sell new products.