Dreamforce was epic. We shared advice and industry news with Salesblazers, made friends, and handed out scads of swag (our plushies are second to none). Among all the catch-ups and learning sessions this year, though, one topic stood out: the critical importance of artificial intelligence (AI) in sales.
Sales teams are seeing the rise of new AI tools to help prospecting, coaching, and forecasting, all in service of sales efficiency. There’s also an increased interest in real-time customer insights as a competitive advantage, housed in a single, secure CRM.
How are top sales teams taking advantage of all of this, while maintaining strong customer relationships? Discover their tips and sales hacks below.
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1. Don’t wait to get in on generative AI
Generative AI may feel like a bell-and-whistle addition to your tech stack, but it’s not just a “nice to have.” You need it to stay competitive. According to our recent Trends in Generative AI for Sales report, 55% of sales professionals report that they currently or plan to use generative AI, and 58% say it helps or will help them increase productivity.
It’s easy to see why adoption is on the rise. Reps can use text-based prompts to identify leads, research companies, draft emails, and even analyze past emails to uncover prospect needs they haven’t addressed. More advanced AI-powered CRMs can personalize communications, even mimic rep voice and tone. This allows sellers to offload time-sucking manual tasks and focus on what truly matters: building meaningful customer relationships.
How Sales Cloud helps make AI accessible to everyone:
At Dreamforce, we unveiled some nifty generative AI innovations for Sales Cloud, including:
Call summarization: Automatically summarize calls to surface key topics covered during meetings and next steps.
Sales emails: Auto-generate hyper-relevant, personalized emails for every sales conversation using the customer data already housed in Sales Cloud.
Einstein Copilot for sales: Offload busywork throughout the sales cycle to a digital assistant, including account research, meeting preparation (agenda-setting and notes to keep in mind), and deal record updates.
2. Prioritize secure data while embracing AI
Generative AI promises to enhance seller efficiency, yet it comes with its share of security challenges. Recent Salesforce research found that 73% of employees believe generative AI introduces new security risks. There’s good reason for concern: Public generative AI tools lack data encryption, making your input vulnerable to theft and misuse.
There are two solutions to this. One: Avoid plugging customer data into public generative AI tools and manually review any generative AI copy to ensure accuracy. Or two: Onboard a generative AI tool that only uses your own encrypted data. As long as all of your information is housed in this tool, you can use it to create all of the accurate, tailored content you need — without worrying about data security.
How Salesforce helps you maintain security:
Salesforce’s foundational Trust Layer allows you to bring together once-siloed data into one place and keep it secure. That security has many parts — access controls, data masking, and no-retention input — all of which allow you to generate customized, relevant, and timely content in Einstein, Sales Cloud’s AI toolset, without worrying about making sensitive information accessible to hackers and competitors.
3. Lean into real-time analytics and predictive AI to win when change hits
As one of our Salesblazers recently lamented, many businesses are still mired in outdated spreadsheets that require slow, time-consuming updates and manual analysis. That’s the cumbersome operational MO of the past. By harnessing the power of “in the moment” analytics, sales teams can detect and rectify issues before they escalate and swiftly adapt to shifting markets and organizational needs.
Instead of reps leaning on a “spray-and-pray” strategy, hoping to land enough deals by pursuing a massive volume of leads, AI-powered insights can surface prospects most likely to close based on interest, resources, and need. Managers, meanwhile, can leverage real-time data to track team performance on the fly, identifying in-the-moment coaching opportunities (like stalled leads) they can quickly address to keep reps on track. At the helm, leaders can utilize real-time data to obtain a holistic view of their sales organization’s performance relative to targets. With predictive AI tools raising red flags early, they can quickly change strategies to ensure their team hits sales goals.
How Sales Cloud’s analytics and predictive AI helps you stay ahead of competitors:
Real-time data: Sales Cloud automatically captures and unifies data from every customer interaction and analyzes it in real time to fuel more confident forecasts. Rep activity is also captured: You can view key team metrics, like leads in pipe and win rate, in one place to uncover coaching opportunities while there’s still time to impact deals.
Forecasting and pipeline inspection: Sales Cloud offers a single view of the status of deals, prioritizes the ones most likely to close, and addresses deals in jeopardy. Built-in predictive AI surfaces recommendations for next best steps for individual deals and highlights potential forecast problems early so sellers can adjust strategy to stay on course.
4. Invest in one single platform over multiple disconnected tools
Our recent State of Sales report revealed a stark reality: 66% of sales reps feel swamped by the multitude of tools available to them. The allure of next-gen tech, including generative AI add-ons and single-function tools, is threatening to compound that problem.
The rallying cry from the Dreamforce stage? Simplify your tech stack. Replace point solutions with one platform you can expand with new features, capabilities, or functions as needs arise. Prioritize core functionality like contact management, pipeline management, and forecasting, but also look for a platform that allows you to seamlessly integrate AI capabilities and real-time analytics to eliminate the fatigue of toggling between systems.
Oh, and make it intuitive or reps just won’t use it.
How Sales Cloud helps you power sales from end-to-end:
Sales Cloud brings activity, lead, and account management together in one place — alongside real-time analytics — to track all of your relationships. We recently paired this with predictive and generative AI innovations, which help managers generate up-to-the-minute forecasts and reps offload tedious manual tasks like deal updates and email drafting.
5. Technology is important, but don’t lose focus on relationships
This last one is a bit of a pivot.
If there’s one thing that’s stood out to sales leaders during recent times, it’s this: relationships make or break you. It’s important that we stay on top of the latest tech — like AI — but what’s just as important are the connections we build with our teams and our customers. That always starts with self-improvement. The better you are at engaging, communicating, and uplifting others, the better your relationships will be.
Salesblazers talked about this a lot during Dreamforce, but three pieces of advice resonated the most. First, educate yourself so you can offer the best advice possible. Take classes, get hands-on experience, watch YouTube videos. Become an expert in your field, whatever it is. Second, commit and be reliable. Attend that meeting you said you would, call that customer when you said you were going to. Loyalty is fueled by reliability. Third, put in the work. There are hard days and easy days, but every day is an opportunity to showcase your best. Don’t offload that work — you’ll lose respect, and with it, your most important relationships.
How Salesforce can help you foster strong relationships:
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Set yourself up for sales success
What did we learn at Dreamforce? In short, AI is the name of the game. As the sales industry evolves, sales leaders can improve productivity with generative AI, make faster data-driven decisions with predictive AI, and streamline tech so reps can focus more on relationship-building. If you’ve got these in your sights, 2024 will see you ahead of the pack.
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