Credit by Sabrina Ferraioli
Inside sales has always been a high-touch and highly professional strategy for reaching out to business buyers with a targeted message. And today inside sales reps are often a company’s first line of communication with existing customers and prospects alike.
To make your reps as productive as possible, you want them focused on building relationships with high-value accounts…not dialing for dollars. That’s what account-based marketing (ABM) is all about—helping companies to target prospects with the highest propensity to buy.
Add artificial intelligence (AI) to the mix—with its ability to process sophisticated algorithms, capacity for machine learning and facility for natural language processing—and you’re putting ABM on steroids. Literally. AI can identify high-value prospects at scale and complement your sales team’s efforts by delivering a personalized, multi-channel customer experience that complements your reps’ sales calls.
Account-Based Marketing and AI Working Together
ABM is moving inside sales teams away from traditional lists and leads and helping them analyze customer data to build their ideal customer profile (ICP) and use that insight to identify prospects most likely to convert to customers.
There’s just one challenge. The massive amount of data companies are collecting these days is swamping sales teams.
AI can glean the proverbial needles of customer insight from your data stack. The result is your sales reps are armed with the information they need to personalize their opening pitch and address a prospect’s particular pain points. Initial conversations grow more rapidly into relationships and, ultimately, sales.
With this potential, it’s no wonder that an InsideSales.com survey on the state of artificial intelligence found that companies are rapidly adopting AI. It’s now the third most important trend after sales automation and Big Data. And while not all applications are sales related, business use of AI grew 97.7% between 2017 and 2018. The survey respondents who say they are using it jumped from 35.7% to 70.6%.
Here’s how your inside sales team can pair AI with ABM to grow your business:
Build your ideal customer profile
AI has the power to process vast amounts of data quickly. Using sophisticated algorithms, AI’s capacity for machine learning can dig deep into data to identify patterns in your existing customer base. With insights into the demographics, firmographics, and technographics that your best customers have in common, you can more accurately model your ideal customer profile.
Identify viable accounts
Using your ICP, AI can quickly cull through massive data files and contact records to identify those accounts among your prospects that are most likely to need what you sell. You no longer have to work from a cold list, conduct filtered searches on LinkedIn, sift through market intelligence software or constantly search for marketing-qualified leads. Instead, your inside sales team has a crystal ball that predicts the companies on which they should focus their efforts.
Engage with prospects one-on-one
AI does more than identify your high-value prospects. It can recognize and organize company data into useful information that inside sales reps can use to engage each prospect personally. Thus, it transforms a sales pitch into a conversation that’s a springboard for a business relationship.
AI helps support prospects throughout the buyers’ journey
Once you have opened the lines of communication with a prospective buyer, you still face a long process to close the sale. Large, high-dollar transactions are complex sales with multiple decision makers and long buying cycles. To optimize results, you need to establish a sales cadence with customized messaging for each individual and account. AI can help you with this process as follows:
Follow up with the decision makers
As decision makers move through the buyers’ journey, they have questions. To reinforce your relationship and keep your products and services top of mind, you need to anticipate buyers’ needs. AI can help reps to personalize regularly scheduled follow up with prospects to address their pain points and industry-specific issues.
For example, sometimes an event or change within a company (such as a move, merger or acquisition) is a signal that your opportunity has changed. An AI algorithm can help you spot these signals early and reach out with a personalized response before your competition.
And as your account base grows, AI paired with sales and marketing automation can help you keep up with everyone’s needs.
Nurture relationships with existing customers
Most companies nurture their customer relationships with generic emails, webinar invitations, and whitepapers. Artificial intelligence ups your game by personalizing your retention campaigns to act on signals within a company, address industry issues and reach out with a specific upsell or cross-sell that speaks to your customer’s immediate needs.
Personalize customer communications
AI is making generic responses obsolete. Through natural language processing, systems can process intent and respond appropriately. Thus, AI helps inside sales reps deliver the right message at the right time.
Personalize website experiences
AI-driven dynamic content can make a visit to your website a unique and highly relevant experience. Rather than having to drill down through your content, visitors see only the articles and information that addresses their issues, interests, and industry while showcasing the products and services most in line with their needs. In this way, the website reinforces the efforts of your inside sales team.
Today, AI helps reps to up their game. Your inside sales reps are the sales quarterbacks. With the help of AI, their passing game benefits from a great ground game.