If you work in the sales industry and you haven’t heard of machine learning before, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the term. Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence (AI). While AI refers to the ability of a computer to imitate human behaviour, machine learning takes that concept a step further. With machine learning, computers are programmed to learn and improve as they are exposed to new information and experiences, allowing them to use the ever-increasing availability of data to quickly and accurately recognize patterns and make predictions.
Machine Learning Engineer was named one of the five jobs expected to be vital for Canada’s economy in 2018, because this technology is relevant to so many industries. In particular, rapid advancements in the field are revolutionizing the sales industry in a few exciting ways.
Data analysis is already helping salespeople identify and serve more high quality leads. For example, insurance brokerage Kanetix Ltd. recently partnered with the applied AI enterprise software company Integrate.ai to transform their sales process. In a pilot project, the two organizations leveraged the data from Kanetix.ca to predict the likelihood that a visitor would ultimately purchase auto insurance. Using the information, they were able to offer different buying experiences to customers depending on their level of motivation to purchase. The deeper level of personalization paid off: Kanetix experienced a 13 percent increase to their call volume and lead generation.
Another way machine learning is helping sales professionals qualify leads is through the use of chatbots: computer programs that mimic human conversation. Chatbots can be used to answer simple customer questions on websites, apps like Facebook Messenger, or through text message. Companies that aren’t meeting their customers on these platforms will likely suffer, since nine out of 10 customers want to interact with businesses through messaging. By providing immediate support, chatbots can ask qualifying questions before referring a customer to a salesperson. As a result, when a reppresentative does receive a lead, they know that customer is likely to make a purchase. And while it might sound like the stuff of science fiction, chatbots can learn from the responses they receive to improve the level of support they offer to future customers.
Sales isn’t just about acquiring customers, it’s also about retaining them – and machine learning can also help salespeople reduce their customer churn. Just like data analysis can predict what kind of customer is likely to purchase a product, it can also predict when a company is about to lose a customer. By recognizing the patterns of customers that have left an organization in the past, computers will be able to predict which customers are likely to leave the company in the future – giving sales and customer services reps a chance to retain that business before it’s too late.
Embracing new technology can be difficult for almost any organization. For large companies, slow and cumbersome internal processes can make change hard to implement. For smaller, nimbler organizations, budget restraints can make embracing new technology feel impossible. But with rapid technological advancements changing the face of an entire industry, savvy organizations will ask themselves if they can afford to pass up the exciting and profitable opportunities that machine learning can offer their sales process.