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The Real Reason Sales and Marketing Teams Use AI How artificial intelligence can make your team more human.

By Alp Mimaroglu

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Did you know that only one percent of cold calls even lead to an appointment, according to a popularly cited study by Baylor University's Keller Center for Research? The problem with cold calling is that it lacks a personal touch. Most of the time, the sales rep doesn't offer anything the customer wants, because they don't know what they want.

You may not have considered this before, but incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into the process could actually improve results by delivering customer insights to sales reps, ensuring they only contact interested individuals. So while much has been made about AI's ability to automate routine processes, comb through mountains of data and even do more complex tasks, such as writing standard news content, it can also help sales teams provide a truly personalized approach at scale. With marketing and sales more analytically and quantitatively driven than ever, AI is the surest way to improve lead quality, segmentation and buyer-persona development, as well as more appropriately customize pricing and service.

Research from AI-enabled account-based marketing platform Demandbase shows that artificial intelligence can help achieve the following goals:

  • 59 percent higher close rates for sales.

  • 58 percent more revenue.

  • 54 percent greater engagement.

  • 52 percent higher conversion

No wonder the International Data Corporation surmises that spending on AI systems is expected to reach nearly $80 billion by 2022, up from an estimated $35 billion in 2019. The potential for massive ROI is too great to ignore for all sorts of companies, from retail to finance to healthcare.

Related: AI Empowering Business Growth for Entrepreneurs

Now, many companies tend to simplify AI as a way to boost operational efficiency and automate routine processes, but thinking in these terms can get you caught in the "human versus machine" trap. The fact is the success of AI in marketing and sales lies in the technology's ability to empower people to work faster and smarter. As Amit Kothari, a software entrepreneur and workflow management expert, writes in CMS Wire, "AI is more than machine automation. It's about human augmentation."

For sales and marketing departments to have success with artificial intelligence, they should align their teams, focus on improving efficiency and define expectations for their AI-powered platform, but they also have to think beyond automation and actively remember why they're utilizing AI: to get and retain more customers.

Every effort with AI should revolve around enhancing the customer experience, whether that be through more targeted product offers or more personalized content. The good news is research shows CMOs have been prioritizing personalization with their AI-powered marketing engines.

Considering content marketing is viewed as the most effective digital technique, it makes sense for marketing teams to focus on how AI can make that better, and a Demand Metric survey found that 80 percent of marketers believe personalized content is more effective than impersonal content.

Beyond personalized content, you'll see more tasks related to personalization and customization in the chart above. Since AI gives sales and marketing teams the power to quickly and accurately analyze all their data, you can improve perform customer segmentation and send more relevant offers. You can optimize the timing of everything from email marketing campaigns to social media posting to channel engagement. Simply put, you can better personalize the overall customer journey with AI. And personalization, more than anything, is what wins in sales and marketing.

Related: The 5 Most Interesting AI Trends for Entrepreneurs

Take H&M, which uses a bot to create a user profile for each customer by asking questions about style preferences, shopping tendencies and sizes. H&M's bot not only streamlines the shopping experience, but it also gives sales and marketing teams better data for personalizing the customer journey. The insights they extract from that data can even guide sales and marketing strategies.

Predictive analytics can also provide advanced customer insights. For instance, Progressive utilizes a telematics program called Snapshot to evaluate how well customers drive, enabling them to offer more accurate insurance pricing and even allowing customers to earn discounts through safe driving.

And when it comes to lead prioritization, InsideSales claims its AI-powered solution can boost revenue by up to 30 percent in just three months by combining unique data, like the buying influence and propensities of B2B professionals, with third-party data and customer CRM data. Then, they run that data through sales models, bringing selling and pipeline recommendations to the surface. By predicting which leads are more likely to close, InsideSales empowers human sales agents with the next best actions. They can prioritize their work and reach out to leads in a timely, personalized manner.

The sum-total ROI potential is clear. Artificial intelligence will only become more integral to marketing and sales, so long as companies continue focusing on customer experience and how to solve their most urgent needs. They should also disregard the notion that AI serves to replace humans. With AI, it's not about humans versus machines. It's about machines partnering with humans. Both should be constantly learning and improving. So as AI transforms sales and marketing processes, and more companies use AI to augment their teams, the companies that win the day will be the ones that focus on expanding human potential.

Alp Mimaroglu

Demand Generation and Marketing Technology Expert

Alp Mimaroglu is a digital marketing team leader who specializes in creating highly effective marketing engines for companies that range from startups to Fortune 500 companies.

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