The following article was first published in the Czech language. It has been translated into English, with edits for accuracy and clarity. Czech Crunch covers topics from business and technology to politics and culture. In this article, they chat with Matúš Kučera of SALESDOCk, about the implications of artificial intelligence in the sales industry.
Artificial intelligence is returning business to traditional soft skills, says the head of B2B agency SALESDOCk
SALESDOCk curtails the expectations of a major business revolution that companies have been hoping for since the advent of artificial intelligence. Why will it drive salespeople back to the basic principles of selling?
Building a well-oiled sales machine is a complicated alchemy. Adding to the challenge, generative artificial intelligence has recently joined the mix of traditional elements—a technology that many anticipate will replace human labor in just a few years. The founders of SALESDOCk, which specializes in improving sales performance in companies, look a few years into the future. According to them, no automation will replace salespeople, on the contrary, it will reveal the underlying core of successful trading.
Matúš Kučera, head of consultants at SALESDOCk, confirms that artificial intelligence will change the way most salespeople work: "The new technology handles most of what salespeople are typically afraid of: laborious manual research, routine writing of hundreds of emails, and unproductive creation of offers or other administrative duties. A huge challenge for all companies now is to find mechanisms to effectively integrate artificial intelligence into their processes. It's not an easy task, because customers are and always will be people who want to deal with people, not machines, especially in a B2B environment."
There are so many artificial intelligence (AI) tools popping up that it's almost impossible to keep track of them all. They promise a revolutionary acceleration and discounting of activities in all sectors, including B2B trade. Artificial intelligence can handle the research of potential clients to approach, the search for email addresses, the transcription of phone calls, automated responses, and the analysis of the performance of individual salespeople. SALESDOCk, as an agency that helps companies build "business machines," has already tested dozens of tools in practice, and uses the best ones with its clients to make sales more efficient.
Artificial intelligence in the salesperson's arsenal
Tools powered by artificial intelligence can make a salesperson's life easier in several areas where the customer will not fundamentally feel their use. "One example is modeling the profile of an ideal customer. It is a vital strategic activity that requires painstakingly sifting through a large amount of data and research so that the company can target its business efforts more precisely. Gong.ai is a tool that uses artificial intelligence to analyze large volumes of video calls and identify various behavioral patterns within them. It then compiles a profile of the ideal customer, it is a very powerful tool for the sales and marketing team,"explains Kučera.
Another tool in SALESDOCk's arsenal is Glance, an autopilot that helps salespeople segment the markets to which they present their products or services. AI Graph-based technology analyzes indicators across multiple channels to find qualified leads worth focusing your business on. "Dozens of such hypersegments can be created. Glance also streamlines the process of reaching out to new customers, commonly known as prospecting. Artificial intelligence generates personalized emails and messages on social networks, thereby enabling companies to conduct prospecting at scale," adds Kučera.
According to SALESDOCk, the automation of emails and direct messages on social media is nothing new, it's been a thing for the last decade. What's new is the generation of carefully personalized messages using, for example, data from the LinkedIn profile or the person's latest Facebook activity. The goal of automation is not simply to increase the absolute number of messages sent, but above all to improve the quality by leaps and bounds, when machine the text sometimes surpasses even that written by a person.
"For the past ten years, companies have tried to push quantity over quality. But artificial intelligence tipped the scales in favor of the quality of the messages sent. From the statistics published by the LinkedIn network, it emerged that seven percent of users respond to an ordinary message, whereas sixteen percent respond to one personalized with the help of AI. In the end, this means nothing other than that from the same number of contacted leads, the salesperson will potentially end up with twice as many meetings. Additionally, it is possible to practice this on an unlimited scale," Kučera points out as an additional advantage of using these new tools.
“That's why I advise salespeople to start incorporating traditional sales methods in parallel with artificial intelligence.”
Emotions are traditionally stirred by cold calling, which involves dialing phone numbers obtained from public sources. Artificial intelligence has introduced a new generation of tools, commonly referred to as power dialers, that allow marketers to save time by simultaneously dialing multiple numbers and connecting to the first one that accepts the call. One of the better-known providers is the Slovak startup CloudTalk, which offers a power dialer powered by artificial intelligence in its platform for call centers.
SALESDOCk primarily suggests such tools for B2B companies that have an average annual business volume of around CZK 1.2 million (EUR ~50,000) and target a sizable market with a minimum of one thousand available telephone contacts. "The power dialer enables the salesperson to make 2.5 times as many calls in the same amount of time by dialing ten contacts per attempt, thereby increasing the likelihood that at least one call will be answered," explains Kučera.
If multiple people answer the call, artificial intelligence ensures they are transferred to an available colleague. “For a business with only a hundred contacts, this tool may not be useful. However, if you have 1,500 customers and 4,000 phone numbers that statistically require up to five calls for a response, the time saved from not listening to twenty thousand dial tones can be substantial,” explains the head of consultants at SALESDOCk, regarding the approach B2B sales departments should take.
Artificial intelligence then begins to watch over the overall performance of the business as well. Since it is already able to analyze content in all its forms, it monitors the long-term effectiveness of salespeople and whether they correctly offer upsells and cross-sells. New tools make it possible to automatically recognize, for example, the number of phone calls before connecting with the right person, having a valuable discussion with a potential customer, or making an appointment. They can also measure the time when the salesperson is speaking and when the customer is speaking, and whether the correct key words or phrases were used during the negotiation.
Back to the basics, phone and email on the retreat
It may seem that we will all gradually be inundated with business emails and phone calls generated by artificial intelligence. However, Kučera strongly mitigates these fears: "We are now in the first phase of acclimatization of businesses to this new technology. I estimate that within three to five years the communication channels will be overwhelmed and this kind of automated approach will cease to work. That's why I advise salespeople to start incorporating traditional sales methods in parallel with artificial intelligence. I perceive the returning popularity of various offline industry exhibitions and the shift of sales to the mode of personal networking, where social networks play a dominant role."
He emphasizes that salespeople should actively develop and enhance their soft skills. As routine tasks become automated, the key differentiator will be the ability to build strong, high-quality business relationships. Once all businesses begin to benefit from the potential of artificial intelligence, these will be competitive advantages. As evidence that SALESDOCk practices what it preaches, the company always establishes a local team when expanding to new countries, like the Netherlands and the USA for example. These teams not only use the aforementioned tools but also attend offline meetings and various events to build relationships and trust with potential clients.
"Soft skills are crucial, and I believe the future of business hinges on communication abilities. That's why we continue to train both our own and our clients' sales teams in traditional methods. These include advanced need identification, active listening, negotiation, storytelling, and asking insightful questions using various methodologies," says Kučera. He often advises salespeople on improving their listening skills, understanding clients' real needs, and securing commitments during the sales process to increase the likelihood of closing a successful deal."