Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere! It’s in apps you use, in your smart phone and soon it’s coming to the B2B sales process.
A Forrester report tells us that 93% of B2B buyers prefer to interact with a website over a salesperson. If that surprises you, understand that it’s only possible in the “simple B2B sale.” I’m referring to low-price products purchased repetitively through a website, e.g., supplies, promotional products, etc.
Structured Data Path
In the B2B simple sale, the trail of data between the buyer and seller is structured because it’s based on transaction history.
But, in the complex B2B sale it’s a different ballgame. In this scenario the buyer is usually made up of a committee of multiple buyers, each with a role and purpose on their journey.
Due to the nature of the buyer’s journey in the complex B2B sale, the trail of data is mostly unstructured because the people in the buyer’s committee are all over the web during the journey. They attend webinars, read blog posts, tweets, Facebook posts, engage in online forums and groups in LinkedIn or Facebook. This unstructured data path is difficult to track.
Coming Soon to the B2B Journey
Thanks to the power of AI and intelligent content, sellers will soon see a day where tracking the buyer’s activities are possible. Gaining insight into each member of the buyer’s journey will be a reality.
The B2B sales process will be disrupted for the better. Actually, the B2B buyer’s journey will be disrupted, also for the better.
Through cognitive marketing technology, sellers will be able to identify the interests of prospective buyers more uniquely.
Where it gets really interesting is in the disruption of the sales process. Cognitive marketing technology will create follow up assignments to people in the selling organization based on the “best match” between the prospective buyer and people in the selling organization.
For example, a technical analyst from a prospective buyer’s organization engages with a tweet, among other digital touchpoints. An engineer in the selling organization who attended the same university and has similar professional interests and skills gets assigned to do the follow up, rather than a salesperson. The salesperson is kept informed through AI integration in the CRM system.
Incidentally, if you’re wondering about the engineer’s trepidation to do the follow up. She has more than one motivation point. First, it’s in her job description because in this new day, it’s in everyone’s job description. Secondly, it’s her opportunity to contribute to her profit sharing check. Third, she recognizes the opportunity to build her brand in the organization as a difference maker.
The B2B Buyer’s Journey is Improved
By harnessing AI in the sales process, the buyer’s journey is also improved. I mean no offense to the salesperson, but in the scenario above, the better experience for the buyer is contact from the engineer who attended the same school and has common professional interests.
This disruption allows the B2B salesperson to focus on high probability activities and truly manage the sales process, orchestrating the deal across all the touchpoints, and managing the timeline of the deal through a competitive landscape.
Cognitive enabled marketing technology will do some heavy lifting that will free up time for the salesperson to spend his time on activities that are better use of his time and skills.
B2B Buyers are Consumers Too
The B2B buyer is a consumer and experiencing AI in her life the same as everyone else. When cognitive enabled systems allow the buyer’s journey to be more productive, it’s a positive experience. Those sellers who create the better experience in the short term will have competitive advantage. Eventually, the B2B buyer will come to expect a cognitive-enabled experience.
On episode 30 of Poolside Sales Chat I describe the AI powered B2B sales process.