August 26, 2020

How AI Delivers Visibility and Better Forecasting

By Adam Honig, CEO, Spiro

CRM was a great way to organize contacts 20 years ago, but the technology hasn’t changed much. Most CRM software relegates sales reps to glorified data-entry clerks. So who do you want on your team? A rep who’s great at keeping all the CRM fields neatly filled out, or a rep out there closing deals?

These days, the information in a CRM system is out of date before it’s even input. As a result, companies throw good money after bad data with a pile of add-on apps to make the clunky tool easier to use – not to mention teams of consultants to help them work.

Technology should make your life easier, and artificial intelligence (AI) is now at a point where it can deliver on its promises. AI isn’t interested in replacing humans, but instead wants to help highly paid sales professionals work more effectively and provide sales leaders with critical insights into their pipelines.

An emerging product category, proactive relationship management, leverages AI to revolutionize the relationship between salespeople and technology. Proactive relationship management doesn’t need to be “used.” It can create contacts based on who you’re emailing. It can update opportunities when a proposal is sent. It can guide salespeople to the right actions. With proactive relationship management, the data is continuously being captured, so the AI engine is able to spot patterns and provide recommendations on next best actions.

No Data Entry but More Visibility
How can eliminating data entry improve visibility? It sounds counter-intuitive, but this is where the power of AI really changes the game for sales leaders. The AI allows a proactive relationship management platform to work in the background – automatically collecting data from email, voice, and text to track and optimize engagement throughout the sales cycle.

As a result of the full visibility into the sales team’s activity – and, more importantly, the prospects’ engagement – the AI-driven platform delivers two important benefits.

  • It provides sales reps with a prioritized daily to-do list of AI- and user-generated tasks that maximize output, as well as proactive recommendations on what the next “best step” should be.
  • The technology provides sales leaders with the Holy Grail of visibility to see deals that are slipping through the cracks – and understand where to help sales reps be more effective.

But the AI doesn’t just point reps and leaders in the right direction. It delivers incredibly accurate pipeline forecasts that aren’t based on the subjective “gut feelings” of reps, but past sales cycles and current engagement. For example, one of my go-to reports is our “stalled deals” report.

Based on the data the AI collects, you get a clear picture of where deals stand in the pipeline, which opportunities are engaged, and perhaps more importantly, which opportunities are stalled.

Visibility Empowers Growth
Having a clear picture of your pipeline and forecast allows you to run the business intelligently. Knowing which types of customers end up stalling (or become uninterested) helps you laser focus on your ideal target customer instead of wasting time going after “everyone” who “might” be a good fit. Knowing who to follow up with is just as important as knowing who to walk away from. Not every lead is a good fit for your company, and that’s OK – provided your sales reps aren’t investing time and energy chasing them.

Having the data to work more closely with your sales team to best support their efforts is the recipe for success. Utilizing the latest technology to support your sales team rather than berating them for not completing administrative tasks changes the relationship between the manager and the rep. Artificial intelligence isn’t going to replace your sales team but it will help the team work more efficiently. Free your team from the chains of CRM.

Adam Honig is CEO of Spiro.