As you determine AI-powered platforms that can support and enhance the human effort in Sales Operations and weave them into your core business strategies, keep in mind these tools are different than the software people use to complete their day-to-day responsibilities. AI-powered tools integrate with your existing systems (like Salesforce and Slack) and are designed to become as integral to daily work as your wifi. They run in the background and literally change the way people work.
Which is why they have the power to truly become the co-pilot to Sales Operations, lifting and performing key functions like activity and contact data capture, more accurate pipeline forecasting, and optimizing revenue intelligence in ways that humans alone cannot.
Consider these best practices as you develop an AI-augmented Sales Ops function:
1. Focus on Tech That Sales Reps Will Actually Use
It’s easy to waste resources on tools that sounds great in theory, but sales reps reject. Talk with Sales and have them provide input on what makes them adopt technology and what they need it to do to truly get ROI from it. This often includes not having to think about the tech, intuitive interfaces or integrating into tools they already use, like Slack.
Educate Sales on how AI tools provide unbiased insights and coaching opportunities to increase their productivity. They need to see how the tool impacts their work and enhances their success. Does it save them time? Alleviate rote mundane tasks? Provide trustworthy insight into how they can win/close more deals?
2. Simplify and Accelerate
Shorter sales cycles bring better cash flow, even when the absolute revenue numbers don’t change. Timing can make all the difference in the world between expansion and shutting the doors. AI tools should drive shorter sales cycles by creating clear improvements in efficiency, intel on which deals have the best odds of closing, and create clear insight on what steps to take, when, to keep deals moving through the pipeline.
3. Pay People for What You Really Want Them to Do (AI Changes This)
As your AI tools enhance your operations, evaluate what you are paying people to do. Incentive drives behavior, and while this may seem like a straightforward concept, it requires careful analysis. What are people being rewarded to do now? Are they focused on getting paid per sale, and racing to close without consideration for customer churn? Most importantly, what do you want them to focus on? Are you paying accurately on involvement? What do you no longer need to incentivize them on based on insights gathered by AI?
4. Automate Everything
We’ve seen how AI tools can augment sales intelligence, processes, and alleviate rote work. Take a broader look at the work people are performing and how they are doing it. What else can be automated? Humans should be freed up to focus on the highest value work, which is often nurturing relationships and working faster and more efficiently. Keep looking for ways to shift work to automation while deriving deeper value from human effort.
5. Manage Sales Teams Performance With Data
One of the responsibilities of sales operations is to provide sales leaders with the data they need to manage their teams more effectively.
Are your sales leaders accurately able to answer:
- Are sales reps taking too long to reply to customer or prospect inquiries?
- Are sales reps spending all of their time on low-value opportunities, and letting big wins slip through the cracks?
- Are the deals your reps working single-threaded?
- Are the right people engaged at each stage of the sales cycle?
Sales ops professionals are finding that AI-powered tools such as People.ai, empower them to answer these questions. Managers are able to easily set up reporting to determine opportunity health, if reps are engaging the appropriate people in the buying group at each stage of the sales cycle, and benchmarking performance against peers. Deal trends and revenue intelligence provide key data unavailable otherwise on exactly what actions are required to win/close deals.
All of this data can be used to optimize sales team performance in real-time, and not just after the fact.