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Sales professionals are bullish on the potential of advanced technologies to drive above-market growth.
InsideSales.com, the AI sales platform powered by Collective Intelligence, released the results of research into the technology adoption plans of more than 600 sales professionals across various industries in 2019.
When asked about the most important trends in business-to-business (B2B) sales, 21.5% named “supporting reps with sales automation,” followed by “capturing value from big data” (21.3%) and “adopting artificial intelligence” (15.6%), indicating a major emphasis on using technology to extract insights into prospects and increase sales efficiency.
“As pressure to grow intensifies, businesses are increasingly aware they need to take advantage of artificial intelligence and analytics technologies to drive higher sales performance,” said David Elkington, CEO and founder of InsideSales.com. “Our research shows AI has moved beyond the hype stage, with respondents representing companies of all sizes who expect to see significant benefits applying AI in the coming year.”
More than 90% of respondents stated they expect AI to improve sales performance and 30.6% of companies surveyed are currently using some form of AI for sales. Additional highlights of the survey into emerging B2B sales and marketing trends include:
- AI is currently used at 30.6% of companies and is moving beyond the hype stage. 43.6% of respondents currently using AI in the sales process are leveraging it for scoring and prioritization, 33.1% for contacting and qualification, and 31.3% for social selling. 44.1% plan to adopt AI for sales in 2019.
- Sales will benefit from AI the most. Sales was the clear frontrunner when asked about departments that will benefit most from AI, chosen by 51.6%, followed by marketing (44.4%) and customer service (25.5%).
- AI expected to drive increased sales performance. 85.4% predicted AI will improve sales performance between 1%-50% and, on average, respondents expected a 33.8% increase. Almost half of the responses fell from 11%-30%.
- AI will most impact pipeline management and forecasting. 51.1% said pipeline management and forecasting would benefit from AI most, followed by account and contact research (48.9%), prospecting (43.2%), administrative tasks (27.5%) and general follow-up (26.9%).
- Lack of knowledge is the biggest roadblock to AI adoption. Respondents indicated the top challenge to using AI is they don’t understand it (25.7%), they don’t trust it (20.5%) and the technology is too expensive (19.4%).
- AI will enable, not replace, sales professionals. Only 9% firmly believe AI will replace sales reps in the next five years, but 58.5% of respondents think inside sales roles will be significantly affected, closely followed by 58.4% who think sales operations will be the most affected.