By Nigel Cannings, founder of Intelligent Voice
Sales enablement software has become a “must have” for many businesses. At its core, sales enablement is the process of equipping sales teams with the knowledge and data required for successful sales. Real-time data builds an understanding of how customers interact with the sales teams, and what exactly is generating negative, or positive experiences. Utilising data analysis to its fullest extent boosts sales and improves customer interactions, typically over the phone or via video. Technological advances mean that this is now best provided as a commodity by AI.
What systems can be applied to sales enablement?
A sales enablement strategy must provide the correct information and guidance for sales reps to prioritise more vital sales strategies that have proven successful. This process requires a multifaceted approach. Employee training, guidance, and materials need to reflect the wider sales strategy of the company. When there are specific goals that the company needs to achieve in terms of sales and customer interaction, the sales staff must receive tailored advice – backed by accurate data – to inform their decision making when performing their role.
AI systems are increasingly vital in developing and implementing sales enablement strategies. Integrating AI provides sales reps with real-time data, providing insight into exactly what is the most effective language, conversational style, and information in driving sales.
For example, AI can assist in compiling customer profiles without time-consuming manual analysis. Traits such as demographics, location, peak activity times, and sentiment can be inputted into AI systems to provide far more accurate customer profiles. Newer technology is beginning to experiment with AI systems detecting features such as ethnicity or demographics without human input. However, this technology is still in a more developmental stage. Nevertheless, even in its current form, AI can process and categorise data with greater speed and accuracy than manual labour, ensuring that all customer profiling information remains up to date.
One of the most important functions of AI in sales enablement is the ability to detect semantics. Through using voice recognition and AI technology during sales calls, it is possible to collect and analyse data to identify which words, language features, and tones of voice lead to successful sales and positive customer interactions. With AI running this process in the background of calls, sales reps will not be distracted by the need to recognise this data themselves. They can remain focused on the customer. Once this data is collected, sales reps can tailor their services to customer needs, understanding which approaches and products are suited to individual callers.
How is ethical sales enablement essential in financial industries?
Sales enablement strategy is seen as vital in many industries to ensure sales teams are working as efficiently as possible. However, it is also crucial that businesses – particularly in the highly scrutinised financial sector – carry out AI-based sales enablement in a strictly ethical and legal manner. For example, when selling to a vulnerable customer (such as an elderly person or adult in distress), sales teams should not pressure someone into purchasing something that they do not understand or cannot afford, regardless of company profit. AI systems must also be able to identify vulnerable customers to make sure they are not taken advantage of. Instead, these customers must receive the necessary support.
Semantics are not only valuable for informing sales. Using AI to detect semantics, language, and speech features can also help detect vulnerability in customers. Just as voice recognition and AI software can detect fraudulent intent, they can also be implemented to pick up features such as hesitation, reluctance, vagueness, and utterances. This usually involves processes such as ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition), and NLP (Natural Language Processing).
This is particularly important within the context of increased regulation in the finance industry. The FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) released new guidelines in 2021 raising the standards of consumer protection. Within this updated guidance is the requirement to always place good customer outcomes at the centre of a business, assessing and addressing the diverse needs of each customer at every stage. This guidance also includes the instruction to ensure that all customers are equipped with the correct information, provided in a way that they can fully comprehend and understand.
An untrammelled AI-powered system has the capacity to wreak great harm if its sole objective is to maximise profit and sell at any cost
How does this assist in finding better ways to sell to specific customers?
Combining the utilisation of AI for sales enablement and customer protection allows businesses to tailor their sales content to specific customers. Those identified as vulnerable will require a unique approach when contacted by sales reps. On the other hand, regular customers can be provided with a personalised experience through more accurate customer profiling business-wide.
Personalisation is particularly important in the finance industry, where many sales take place digitally or over the phone. This can make customers feel less connected, with no face to associate with the business. By providing a more individual, unique experience that meets customer needs, businesses can retain a more positive, connected experience for the customer in question.
AI – alongside informing personalisation – can also measure its effectiveness, making it simpler to identify when a change in strategy is required. Carefully monitor the data provided on the success of personalised sales experiences and learn from the resulting analysis.
While implementing this personalised customer experience, remember that there are boundaries to how directly customers want their details brought into sales conversations. The data provided through sales enablement should be guidance for sales reps, but not instruct them on exactly how to force a discussion, and certainly not to reveal excessively how much the business knows about that individual. This can easily have the reverse effect, resulting in negative customer interaction. Sales reps should receive training on interpreting AI-provided data to work with the customer, not alienating them.
Compliance and sales enablement are issues that have become closely intertwined. The presence of new AI technology allows for much greater degrees of personalisation during experiences that have become more remote to the customer. This can be a significant asset for businesses, providing them with more effective sales techniques. However, this is accompanied by increased responsibility for customer protection – as outlined by the FCA. The same AI technology can successfully identify vulnerable customers. This allows finance companies to take the necessary care in ensuring these customers are well informed and not unethically swayed into purchasing products or services that could damage their financial wellbeing.