The art of selling parallels the discipline of time management. Selling, like time management, is knowing how to prioritize and manage your time. Today, most sellers go through a manual process to figure out who to touch, when to do it, and what to say on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis. Yet, artificial intelligence is changing sales prioritization and doing so at a rapid pace.
Take the manual prospecting process today (does not include AI) …
When you compile your outreach list, you look at the universe of thousands or tens of thousands of prospects and decide who receives your precious outreach. You might build your list based on descriptive attributes such as title, tenure, industry, and more – all in efforts to collect a solid foundation of who needs help and who is most likely to buy.
Next it’s who to call first… and then second… then third… But how does the typical seller prioritize the order of their lead list? Enter intuition – the seller’s instinct – as the individual contributor’s black box. THIS is the source of wild variance in selling performance across your team and a source of obvious tension between sales and marketing.
Why? Because the stakes of mistimed outreach are high:
- Call too early and you wasted an outreach on someone who is not ready when you could have called someone who was
- Call too late and you will find out your competitor has already won the business
Here are some key stats driving home the criticality of timing:
- The first viable vendor to reach a decision maker and set the buying vision has a 74% average close ratio. (Forrester)
- Sales teams have a 56% greater chance of attaining quota if they engage with buyers before those buyers contact the seller. (SalesBenchmark Index) SBI research shows that sales forces doing this will rarely compete on price and often win deals with zero competition because they “got in early.”
- 50% of buyers choose the vendor that responds to them first. (InsideSales.com)
What’s changing for the better…
Prior to the data revolution, competitive advantages in sales were created through relationships. You hired a salesperson with a robust contact list and your teams spent extravagantly on dinners and travel to build that relationship. Now that the buying process has migrated to the web, your anticipation and foresight into prospects’ intentions outweigh traditional tactics.
By deciphering customers’ digital behavior (sometimes using AI), we can compile complete lists of prospect profiles and predict where revenue will be generated. It’s no longer instinct. Art has become science. And it is painting a portrait any sales or marketer would find beautiful.