Highspot Blog

sales ai

Artificial intelligence (AI) may be coming for your job. But debating AI’s impending (or not) domination is blasé and ultimately unimportant for business leaders responsible for driving revenue and growth. Instead, we need to focus our attention on AI’s potential to transform how we sell.

AI is already making waves in sales, from intelligent content recommendations for reps to sales pipeline insights. But an area of significant, untapped opportunity lies in unlocking one of the biggest problems facing salespeople and marketers — “No Decision.”

Forget the shock and awe headlines. The frontlines of shifting buyers from complacency to action is where AI’s potential gets interesting.

“No Decision” Kills Deals. Urgency Revives Them.

“No Decision” is sales purgatory — and the safe haven of customers crippled by an abundance of options and ever-shifting priorities. In the face of uncertainty, it’s often easier for buyers to do nothing.

This type of thinking brings 22% of all deals to a halt. Apply that number to the value of your own forecasted opportunities and “No Decision” could represent millions in lost revenue.

Marketing and sales leaders can confront this phenomena by executing programs that drive urgency, a powerful force that turns leads into customers. One way to frame this is to consider three distinct phases:

  • Prospect evaluation – driving urgency with initial champion
  • Company evaluation – driving sense of urgency across multiple stakeholders
  • Company purchase – helping to establish a critical business imperative


These phases reflect the evolution of a deal: what begins with a single person’s problem often ends with numerous, cross-functional stakeholders confronting a company-wide challenge. As the deal evolves, so should your approach to driving urgency.

Take, for example, the purchase of marketing automation software. A vendor may connect with a director of marketing operations, but the decision to invest will require input from sales leadership, website developers, growth operations, and more. Thus, an effective rep will seamlessly evolve their approach to urgency from specific pain points to a broader business case that encompasses new stakeholders. Ultimately, they must present a compelling solution that convinces all stakeholders the investment will solve an urgent, company-wide problem — without losing sight of the individual’s pain.

Done correctly, urgency creates a bias for action where inertia may otherwise reign. The only complication? Manufactured urgency, like lab-grown diamonds, is inferior to the real thing.

Genuine Urgency Can Be Curated by Hand, But It’s Not Easy

We’ve all had a salesperson try to convince us that we need something we don’t. Usually those conversations don’t end with a purchase. Fake urgency is fragile; simple objections can block a deal because the buyers know they don’t need whatever you’re selling. And they’re right.

Instead, reps must organically develop urgency by attaching product benefits to existing initiatives within the account — for example, a buyer may wish to invest in a CRM rather than marketing automation software; a good salesperson can build urgency by showing the buyer benefits of purchasing both at once.

Unfortunately, the details that authentically build urgency are often buried in Salesforce notes or Gong recordings. Even at startup scale, it would take hours of work to sift through notes, analyze loss calls, and interview account executives to uncover them. Once you’ve done this, it’s possible to create sales plays aligned to the patterns you’ve identified — and then repeat the analysis process months later to see if it worked.

But a manual process like this is essentially a guess-and-check approach, not the kind of adaptive, proactive method that will scale with your business. A deep learning system, however, could analyze qualitative data en masse. Enter: AI.

Use AI to Crack the Code on “No Decision”

AI’s transformation of data into actionable insight currently outperforms traditional analysis methods, revealing customer needs, wants, and habits in ways never before possible.

Just like our example of a manual exploration, AI can analyze urgency-blockers by combing through qualitative data to identify otherwise invisible patterns. The major difference? Where we humans are limited by time, AI can crawl thousands of data points in minutes, pulling insights that can inform your strategy and uncover areas for improvement across your go-to-market operation.

AI excels at finding opportunities to act. In our manual scenario, you must make educated guesses about which prescribed actions will help sales people overcome “No Decision.” With AI, you can feed a machine learning system a data set of no-decision accounts turned customers. The system would then tell you which urgency-driving actions were effective and allow you to correlate these winning approaches by industry, persona, and other important factors.

Transform Inertia into Initiative

Once you set aside the sensationalism surrounding AI, you can start to apply the technology to real business challenges. AI can arm sales teams with content, guidance, and insight into buyer behavior to overcome “No Decision” by creating an overwhelming sense of urgency. The key is to focus on tangible impact, not grandiose predictions. To learn more about actionable steps you can take to set your sales team up for success, read our guide to buyer engagement.

can a real lunch break boost your productivity?

Productivity. For the modern worker, it’s more than a buzzword — it’s a lifestyle. There are productivity role models, apps to help you work smarter, and a plethora of services designed to eliminate the inefficient habits of unproductive people, like grocery shopping or leisurely eating.

But is all of this really making us more effective employees? In our new blog series, “Worksmart,” we’re putting so-called productivity “best practices” to the test to see what really works and what advice you can forgo.

Eating Through Lunch Could Hurt Your Performance

 

First up — lunch. What was formerly a sacred hour for friends and food has become an unfortunate casualty of our nine-to-five (or seven-to-seven) hustle. Recent studies have shown, however, that working through lunch can negatively impact performance.guilt, perceived judgement, and stress can all keep us tied to our desks

In an interview with NPR, Kimberly Elsbach, a professor at the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management, who studies workplace psychology, explained the correlation between breaks and the type of non-linear work most of us do: “Staying inside, in the same location, is really detrimental to creative thinking. It’s also detrimental to doing that rumination that’s needed for ideas to percolate and gestate and allow a person to arrive at an ‘aha’ moment.”

Most of us know this instinctively yet struggle to step away when tasks start piling up. The reasons why vary. Guilt, perceived judgement, and stress can all keep us tied to our desks.

Could just a 30-minute break and the productive, refreshed mind it promises be enough to make up for lost time? For one week, our test team took a real lunch break every day to find out.

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best sales marketing events 2019

Have you ever purchased a $2,000 event ticket and flown across the country in pursuit of new learnings — only to find yourself trapped in a windowless conference room nodding off to outdated material? If so, you’re not alone. 

There are good conferences, and there are “why am I here” conferences. When these events cost both time and money, how can you ensure you’re making a wise investment?

Let this guide be a beacon — we’ve included a list of the fall events we’ve chosen to attend, from the US to the UK. Between new research shared by the experts to networking hours with the best and brightest, these events are not only worth the jet lag, but will leave you feeling reinvigorated and inspired.

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revenue enablement

The term ‘revenue enablement’ has recently surfaced in our industry conversation, which may raise an eyebrow given the rapidly evolving sales enablement category itself is still emerging. This article offers a perspective on this new term’s definition and aims to establish clarity about its place in our larger category dialogue.

Let’s begin with perspective from our friends at SiriusDecisions:

“An increasing number of sales enablement functions are responsible for supporting not only quota-bearing sales reps, but also additional buyer-facing roles (e.g. customer success, channel sellers, sales engineers, marketing personnel). The common thread among these roles is that they are all part of the organization’s revenue engine — the go-to-market functions responsible for revenue growth. Businesses are starting to recognize new terminology — e.g. “revenue operations” and “revenue enablement” — to align goals, practices, and initiatives among these interlocked buyer- and customer-facing employees.”

–Sales Enablement: Planning Assumptions 2020, August 2019

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the simple trick that will make you a better listener

“You said you’ve been struggling with customer retention for a while,” the sales rep said. “What led you to address it now?”

Great question.

Unfortunately, before his prospect could reply, the rep followed it with three more.

“Did retention hit a new low? Or are you changing your organizational focus? A lot of folks reach out to me after hiring a customer success manager — does that apply to you?”

The buyer seemed a little overwhelmed, and responded with hesitancy in her voice: “Well, I guess you could say our goals are changing, so a change in organizational focus, I guess.”

Did you see what just happened? The buyer simply picked one of the sales rep’s options rather than potentially giving a reason he hadn’t anticipated.

In his rush to fill the silence, this salesperson missed a precious opportunity to learn more about his buyer’s pain.

Have you ever struggled to talk less? Read on for a simple — yet crazy effective — technique for doing just that.

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sales training

Today, most sales organizations are still enabling salespeople with classroom onboarding, certifications, and assessments. These methods are outdated and don’t reflect the dynamic, responsive way that modern sellers engage with buyers. And they’re hurting your bottom line.

Salespeople are hungry for an immersive, interactive learning experience — one that delivers the right content and guidance at the right time through the channels where they live.

And reps have every reason to have this appetite. Technology has transformed the way we sell — so it’s time that technology changes the way we approach sales training, too.

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sales technology adoption

You finally signed the contract on the new sales tool you’ve championed for months. Weeks of research, stakeholder meetings, and contract negotiations are behind you, so the hard part is over, right?

Not quite. Now you need to drive adoption across your sales team. After all, a tool that no one uses is just a waste of money. But sales reps are inundated with more tools than ever, requiring that new solutions overcome skepticism and ingrained habits to achieve high adoption.

All this may make it seem easier to avoid purchasing new tools altogether. But modern buyers demand fresh, digital sales tactics, so doing nothing simply isn’t an option. Follow these three steps to ensure that your sales technology investments are a success.

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sales enablement tool capabilities

Most people who change the world don’t set out to do so. Innovation expert and New York Times contributor Pagan Kennedy has found genius often unexpectedly strikes those “in a position to see a problem that needs fixing in a very personal way.”

The evolution of sales enablement technology follows this pattern. For decades, salespeople have wasted precious hours searching for sales assets while marketers have been beset by countless inbound content requests. Necessity demanded a more efficient way of organizing, discovering, and analyzing content — and those who experienced these challenges first-hand invented technology that is now changing the way millions work.

But not all sales enablement platforms are created equal. Recognizing real innovation is increasingly difficult amidst industry hype and buzzword-laden marketing. So how can you separate a genuinely game-changing platform from the rest? Look for these critical capabilities:

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best sales tools

The right tools can make all the difference. Just as James Bond needs his gadgets, or a baseball player needs a quality bat, sellers will be most productive with a strategic tech stack.

The sheer volume of sales software available, however, makes deciding which platforms to invest in a daunting task. That’s why you need a simple decision framework and a clear understanding of which tools can make the greatest impact.

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sales readiness unlocks revenue growth

The B2B landscape is rapidly evolving. Sales teams must keep pace with the latest market developments, new products and services, buyer behaviour, competitor news, and much more. The flow of information is unending. How can your sales team keep up? The answer is sales readiness.

Sales readiness encompasses efficient onboarding, ongoing sales communication, and effective coaching and training. It has become a critical component of sales enablement, as it ensures salespeople are equipped with everything they need to adapt to change and have meaningful customer conversations.

Building on the momentum of May’s Sales Enablement Soiree, we sought to continue the learning at a Highspot-hosted event in London. Industry experts from Brainshark, ICIS, Emarsys, and S&P Global Platts came together to discuss key areas of sales readiness and how to overcome the challenges of onboarding, coaching, and training sales teams.

From sharing success patterns over breakfast to building new relationships, we left with actionable insights on readying sales to drive revenue. Let’s take a closer look at five important takeaways.

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