Here’s why sales teams are thriving in the AI era

By Lesley Ronaldson, EMEA Senior Director at Gong

Hot on the heels of the excitement around AI’s massive potential to automate countless tasks came fears that this very productivity would put many professions at risk – from writers and software developers to designers and marketers.

In the months since, rather than having been displaced by AI, professionals across industries have embraced the efficiencies the technology enables, and have found ways to integrate it into their roles in a way that supports them. In fact, 82% of UK businesses report an appetite to embrace this technology, in recognition of its significant potential to introduce efficiency gains.

While there’s no crystal ball to peer into the future, there’s no denying that AI will impact the working lives of many – including those working in sales. Here, AI is not a threat but an ally, empowering salespeople to find new efficiencies in their work, and helping them become even better at their jobs.

AI will not replace salespeople – but it will help them

At its core, sales is a human endeavour. It’s about building relationships, trust and understanding – activities that algorithms are unlikely to replicate fully. AI, despite its prowess in data processing and analysis, cannot replace the human touch that salespeople bring to the table. It lacks the emotional intelligence and personal connection that is essential for nurturing client relationships, anticipating client needs, and closing deals.

That’s why, instead of replacing sales professionals, AI is here to serve as a copilot. This technology complements the interpersonal skills of a salesperson by providing data-driven insights, and equipping sales teams with valuable information that enhances decision-making and customer engagement. AI and human sales professionals can work in tandem, creating a powerful synergy that drives success.

The next generation of salespeople are already embracing this technology. For example, Gong’s recent survey of business students in the UK found that 62% are already aware that AI can understand all the interactions between a sales rep and a prospect and accurately predict whether that prospect will buy, while 64% know that AI can write follow-up emails to send after a call. Similarly, in our conversations with today’s salespeople, it’s clear that as AI tools proliferate, that human touch will only become more crucial in cutting through the noise and resonating with clients.

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AI can remove some of the drudgery of admin

Generative AI applications like ChatGPT write medical notes, code, and generate graphics and marketing emails. In so doing, it takes hours of administrative burden off of professionals, leaving them open to do more strategic work. In sales, this is also where the potential of AI as a copilot is the most apparent – namely in the liberation of time. In fact, according to McKinsey, AI can automate up to a fifth of current sales-team functions.

In the sales realm, too much of what today’s revenue professionals spend their time doing is administrative. Updating CRMs, data entry, and lead nurturing are critical but time-consuming elements of a salesperson’s daily routine. According to Forrester, 77% of a sales person’s time is spent on non-selling activity – a significant amount of time that could be put towards more impactful activities, like uncovering upsell opportunities or engaging with customers more deeply to understand their upcoming strategies.

More Sales Means More Success

AI is already capable of analysing vast swathes of information, extracting insights, and generating content. It can easily compile these insights for revenue teams in the form of short, digestible summaries that take into account the conditions at hand before their prospect meetings. Then, after the call, a domain-specific AI solution trained on large datasets of sales interactions can go beyond just giving a summary, and instead provide crucial insights such as the steps a rep can take to increase the likelihood of closing the deal. This is because best-in-class AI models can be trained to understand the context of customer interactions. As a result of this, it can pick up on concepts, rather than just keywords, and then surface insights based on the precise needs, concerns or priorities of a customer.

In the UK, AI is already being used by most companies (89%). Over a quarter (28%) are using it to boost sales, while a third are using AI to improve marketing capabilities. It’s becoming clear that for many businesses, the adoption of AI isn’t just a boost to productivity and efficiency, but an imperative for the future success of the organisation.

Perhaps most importantly, AI can help revenue teams work smarter by automating tasks and helping revenue teams focus on what they do best. It’s no secret that sales teams are feeling extra pressure to secure – and indeed preserve – leads and customers as much as possible. Here, AI-driven insights can help them squeeze every ounce of value from the working day while also maximising each and every revenue opportunity while creating a more tailored and personalised client experience.

Thriving in the AI Era

AI is far from a threat to job security for sales teams; it is a strategic copilot that elevates their performance. The future of sales is intertwined with AI, and embracing this copilot approach will be the key to greater success and growth.

Thinking more broadly, AI can also inject much-needed accuracy to forecasts. Today, the process relies heavily on rep input and details from CRMs and other systems. This can embed subjective judgements and  incompleteness into forecast rollups, resulting in inaccurate predictions which are especially detrimental during challenging economic conditions.

As we move forward, revenue teams need to recognize that the true potential of AI is not in replacing the human element but in enhancing it. Sales professionals, armed with AI-driven insights and automation, are freed up to build relationships, provide personalised solutions, and ultimately close more deals.

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