Experts tell us that irrespective of how you generate your leads, a sale is about a personal relationship between your brand and your customer. Ideally your sales executive is best friends with customers, yours is the first brand customers recall and they trust you implicitly.
The reality, as always, is nuanced. To better understand the reality, I and my team at Coseer conducted interviews with senior sales professionals working with our clients. We found that:
- Very few organizations worldwide have successfully scaled trust based sales model beyond top few accounts, especially if the ticket size is small.
- Personalization using technology helps, but even for $100+ ARPU products, customers expect live interaction with a team member.
- Cost of sales personnel is a key barrier. Most B2C organizations invest in the sales leader, but their ideas are not often translated well without experienced sales executives.
Turns out its not trivial to get the whole team to duplicate the sales leaders’ judgment and skills. The inexperienced sales executive don’t get it, experienced ones have their own patterns. These patterns may or may not be better, they are seldom consistent or scalable.
At current state of art, a machine should be able to classify every lead and predict the right next step — often also called Next Best Action in the Customer Success industry. This way subjective judgment has no more role to play. Most AI systems, if trained properly, reflect the behavior of the best operatives. In this case, the sales leader.
Let’s make this real. The image below shows a simple Tactical Sales Dashboard for a company that sells a $150 ARPU product — it manages tickets for SF Giants. The board classifies each lead along Readiness to Buy and the Best Fit Product. For each such classification, the sales leadership can prescribe next steps and scripts, as indicated on the board.
For more complex scenarios such dashboards can be multivariate and even nested. In most situations such boards keep evolving with time and experience.
While the sales leader can get a lot of success in getting their teams to follow a prescriptive path once a customer is successfully put in one of these boxes, each sales representative uses their own judgment and subjective perspectives to make such classification.
This is where AI can help translate the genius Sales EVP’s ideas into real dollars. All they have to do is to come up with something prescriptive like the Tactical Sales Dashboard, and get a model trained to classify customer based on behavioral data and transcripts of interactions (email, chat, phone call). If there is a sufficient historical data, such a model will start emulating the sales leader’s thought process very soon. Since this model is something that always keeps learning, it will start predicting better shortly after.
In other words, instead of thinking about a tiered sales organization, companies are better off hiring a stellar leader, and empowering them with AI and relatively junior (and inexpensive) team.