280 The Virtual Sales Advisor Machine Part 3

The Virtual Sales Advisor Machine Part 3

 

While the Virtual Sales Advisor Machine (SAM) is not yet fully available, it represents the culmination of advanced Artificial Intelligence technologies being integrated to produce the ultimate sales professional—a machine with the power to automate and transform the sales cycle in ways never before seen or thought possible. 

 

This Is SAM’s Way: How the Technology Works

SAM is a fully featured virtual agent that will make automated selling a reality. In addition to automating significant steps in the sales cycle, SAM will also augment many of the routine tasks previously performed by human sales professionals and serve as their smart advisor. SAM gets smarter with each customer interaction. 

 

Here are examples of SAM capabilities and how its underlying high-tech functions can be leveraged.

 

Accessing a Gold Mine of Valuable Data

SAM will become as smart as possible by ingesting all types of enterprise data as a basis for applied knowledge. For SAM to operate at a high level, a “feed the beast” mentality dominates. 

HOW: To be effective, SAM requires a high volume and high variety of data. This data is stored in databases (memory banks) for future recall, and includes data about customers, the selling organization, sales teams, and prior customer interactions. 

 

Smart Communication

SAM interacts directly with the customer by conducting conversations through multiple channels, including voice, text, chat, and video. 

HOW: SAM will utilize Smart Communication methods to interact with customers by: 

– Referencing a combination of approved scripts, rules, and policies. 

– Parsing unstructured text information (documents, messages, chats) and deriving meaning and intent. 

– Applying Data Analytics to each element of the conversation to score the importance, the tone, and the resulting best actions to take.

 

I’m DJ Sebastian, and we’ll continue the discussion on the Virtual Sales Advisor Machine in the next briefing. 

 

279 The Virtual Sales Advisor Machine Part 2

The Virtual Sales Advisor Machine Part 2

 

Imagine a set of interactions between a customer named Pam and a sales professional named Sam. After cordial, virtual introductions, Pam asks about the solutions available from Sam’s company. Sam quickly relates a customer success story that is applicable to Pam’s business. Then, Sam redirects the discussion toward discovering the business issues Pam needs to address. Sam and Pam jointly complete a survey that works through a set of questions and statements to document the current state of Pam’s company’s business and articulate the primary business issues to be addressed. 

 

After further discovery discussions, Sam’s team formulates a solution that will address Pam’s business issues with a focus on generating significant business value. 

 

Pam then issues a list of requirements that will be sent to multiple suppliers. Sam works through the requirements list, highlighting the areas where Sam’s solution has extensive competitive differentiators and describes where each capability will deliver unique business value to Pam’s company.

 

Sam then uses the resources and data available in their CRM to build a proposal. The proposal includes a selection of related video customer testimonials that serve as excellent success stories. 

 

After several interactions, Pam’s team selects the solution from Sam’s team, negotiations are completed, contracts are signed, and purchase orders are issued. Sam’s team celebrates with Pam’s team on their mutual success.  

 

This scenario presents typical interactions between a seller and a customer for the steps involved in advancing through a sales cycle. But there is something unique and unexpected about the sales professional in this case:

 

Sam is NOT a human sales professional—SAM is a 

Virtual Sales Advisor Machine (SAM). 

 

I’m DJ Sebastian, and we’ll continue the discussion on the Virtual Sales Advisor Machine in the next briefing. 

 

278 The Virtual Sales Advisor Machine Part 1

The Virtual Sales Advisor Machine Part 1

 

Many stories have surfaced recently in the media about the future of Artificial Intelligence… a futuristic world where AI will take control of many human functions… not just of a physical, robotic nature, but to take control of thought, communication functions, such as voice, hearing and reading, and even decision-making. 

 

Dig into this a little deeply and you will find some scary projections that human life will devolve into a Meta or virtual reality existence. Also trending is the term called “transhumanism”, where AI and advanced technology devices are inserted into the human brain and body to create a “super-human” being with general intelligence that far exceeds human intelligence. 

 

This series of flash briefings will explore the topic of AI and its potential for taking control over many of the functions traditionally performed by salespeople. 

 

This subject was explored in my book entitled “The Selling Revolution: Prospering in the New World of Artificial Intelligence”. 

 

We will stay away from the transhumanism topic for now. But realize that before long, it will be possible to unleash the power of AI to automate the selling function for tasks previously performed by human salespeople. We will introduce you to the Virtual Sales Advisor Machine

 

I’m DJ Sebastian, and we’ll continue the discussion on the Virtual Sales Advisor Machine in the next briefing. 

 

277 The Dreaded No Decision Part 2

The Dreaded No Decision Part 2

This is a follow-up to the prior briefing which discussed why the dreaded No Decision happens. In this briefing, we will provide ways you can avoid No Decision. 

When customers make “No Decision” they actually do make a choice: they choose to DO NOTHING; they choose the STATUS QUO. 

Here are FIVE ways that you can reduce the number of deals that fall into the No Decision category.

1) By building relationships with multiple power sponsors. Don’t be single-threaded in an account. Be sure to build consensus support from multiple power players so you are not counting on the preference of a single person. 

2) By proving that your solution will work for your customer to reduce their perceived risk. Lay out your path up front, so the customer understands the major capabilities that you can prove. Be careful not to turn this into a major project. 

3) By having a positive, emotional impact – Make it a personal win for them as well as a company win. How can you make them a hero for choosing your solution? 

4) By implementing the integrated selling/buying process as outlined in a prior briefing is a great way to win against that dreaded competitor, “No Decision.” 

5) By showing substantial business value they will realize and gaining agreement from the customer on that value so they own it. Don’t assume they will figure it out themselves.

A salesperson’s failure to win a deal is often a result of a failure to transform your value proposition into a compelling one that your customer embraces as their own. 

To reduce the number of deals that result in No Decision, focus on building relationships with multiple power sponsors, showing substantial  business value the customer will realize, and demonstrating proof.  

I’m DJ Sebastian, for more info on what it takes to become an Elite Seller, visit my website at thetechseller.com 

276 The Dreaded No Decision Part 1

The Dreaded No Decision Part 1

When salespeople struggle to meet their quotas, it is often  because they waste time working too many opportunities that end up resulting in the dreaded “No Decision.”

In their careers, most sales professionals will lose more deals to “no decision” than to any specific competitor. It can be devastating to progress through an entire sales cycle only to have your customer make the frustrating decision NOT to move forward. 

Towards the end of a sales cycle, a salesperson’s refrain can change to “come on… just make a decision… pick someone”. Certainly, salespeople never want to lose, but when the customer just walks away from a deal, salespeople openly question whether they did the right thing by throwing their hat in the ring.

Why does No Decision happen?

– Perhaps the customer’s source of funding for the initiative was cancelled, or diverted to another, seemingly more important project. 

– Maybe the expected benefit wasn’t great enough to bear the perceived risk and cost of the project. Maybe you did not show compelling value that would make the undertaking worthwhile. 

– There may be concern about the uncertainty of the potential outcome… Will the solution work? Is it too risky? Will the difficulty of implementing the solution be worse than the current way things are done?

– Maybe the customer team couldn’t agree on the scope of the problem or choose the solution…

– And here’s a more nefarious reason for No Decision… Free research… the customer calls in some vendors without ever planning on initiating a real project. This might not happen often… but it does occur. 

– Maybe it’s inertia. The customer might say: “Well that might become a problem down the road, but right now, we’re good.”

I’m DJ Sebastian. Stay tuned for the next briefing for insights on how to address the “No Decision” dilemma.