Artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to significantly impact our lives and work, and the sales industry is no exception. In fact, adding AI to your sales prospecting training is the key to moving forward with this technology and keeping your trainees abreast of new technologies. There is tremendous potential for AI to improve efficiency in the sales training process. Understandably, however, there is also some skepticism about AI’s role in the sales profession. Is AI here to help salespeople or replace them?

The good news for sales reps is that many aspects of the sales profession are uniquely human. Conversations drive business, and this is particularly the case when it comes to business to business (B2B) sales. Decision-makers might use a chatbot on a website to learn about a solution or a product. However, business leaders still want human interaction to guide them through the complex process before making purchasing decisions. Therefore, the development of AI will do more to augment salespeople than to replace them. Here, we will discuss how AI can impact sales prospecting and the need to integrate AI training into general sales training.

How to Integrate AI With Sales Prospecting Training

Sales prospecting involves many repetitive tasks. Sellers constantly find new contacts, research and follow a set outreach cadence. AI and machine learning (ML) provide great opportunities for salespeople to create efficiencies in this process, and they encourage your team to consciously be learning the latest advancements and trends with these technologies so they may integrate best practices into existing processes. It’s essential to take the time to teach your sales team how to leverage AI and ML tools to identify and prioritize prospects. They can leverage the data analysis to understand customer behavior, preferences and pain points to develop a more effective sales strategy.

Here are a few ways that AI and ML will allow sellers to focus more on conversations and less on repetitive tasks. These are tips that should be taught all through the sales training process, as AI is slowly but surely becoming more and more integral to a successful sales program.

1.   AI Can Filter Leads

Many companies already incorporate a model bringing leads to salespeople’s prospecting funnel thanks to inbound marketing. Unfortunately, there are a lot of leads that are not worth pursuing. Currently, sales development reps spend a lot of time sorting through leads to find targets that fit their ideal client profile. AI and ML can help with this process.

It will take time, but this is exactly the kind of task that ML will become very adept at. AI can analyze leads through a free trial or a marketing event and will eventually be able to leverage existing CRM data and online data to narrow down leads worth pursuing. This technological advancement will allow sellers to focus less time sorting through leads and more time connecting with prospects.

2.   AI Can Research Prospects

As a learning and development expert, you know the amount of time it can take to do proper research. In sales, prospect research is another task that eats up a lot of time and cuts into efficiency. To learn about prospects, sellers must look at LinkedIn profiles, company websites, etc. There is already technology that scrapes data from the internet to provide sellers with research on their prospects. This process will only get smarter and better with AI as the technology will go beyond just scraping data. Once trained, AI can customize the research presented to the seller since it can be trained to learn the most pertinent pieces of information regarding a prospect’s pain points.

AI can provide insights that will help sellers reduce time spent on research. Cutting down on time spent on this task means more time for conversations with prospects, which will also be more meaningful and impactful in the long term. Introducing AI usage as a standard research tool early on in the training process can help ensure employees achieve maximum efficiency after the training period is over.

3.   AI Can Improve Employee Training

The unique potential of AI is that it can learn. Currently, one of the most effective ways to train sales representatives, especially new reps, is through role-plays. This requires a more tenured sales rep or manager to partner with a trainee to optimize the training. It isn’t always possible since more tenured reps or managers have limited time.

In the future, AI tools may get sophisticated enough to be very convincing at playing the role of a customer. This will allow sellers to practice in a simulated sales environment. AI is already augmenting training. Learning management systems (LMSs) are already tracking participant performance, and soon AI will be able to create even more custom learning paths for employees in training or during an onboarding process. Therefore, while integrating AI training into sales training is becoming more prominent in 2023, soon it may also be able to augment the very sales training and onboarding tasks that you’re working on.

What Does the Future Hold?

AI will inevitably continue to rapidly advance. With this, a certain level of skepticism about how it will impact the sales role is also inevitable. While it’s true that this technology will replace certain aspects of the sales role, it will not replace the need for the human touch in sales. Instead, it will create separation between those who embrace its potential and those who choose to do it “the old way.”

The efficiencies gained from this technology are undeniable. Therefore, sellers should embrace it and learn how to work with it. Training professionals and sales leaders are also responsible for ensuring that their sales force is well-equipped to leverage these new technologies by incorporating them into their training processes. AI will not replace salespeople, but sellers who know how to leverage this technology will vastly outperform their counterparts that are slow to adapt.

As mentioned, despite technological advancements, sales are still driven through conversations. While AI will make the sales stack much more intelligent, it cannot replicate the personalized service that a well-trained sales professional can provide to a client. Do everything you can to incorporate AI into your sales prospecting and training processes, but don’t depend on AI as a tool for replacement. Rather, treat it as a helpful addition to your incredibly valuable and well-trained sales staff.