How AI Can Increase Productivity for Salespeople

How AI Can Increase Productivity for Salespeople
November 17 14:14 2016 Print This Article

In sales, as the saying goes, time is money. The more leads you qualify, the more demos you do, the more sales you close. The math is straightforward. Every step takes time, so if you add time, you expand whatever part of the sales funnel you’re focused on.

There are all sorts of productivity hacks but there is one very simple one: delegate any time-consuming task that does not directly relate to selling to someone else. 

Let’s say you’re a salesperson at a SaaS company, in which your average deal size is $10,000 ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue). You spend the bulk of your day conducting product demos and follow up calls, and the rest on emails and internal meetings. But you also spend a lot time scheduling those demos and calls. In fact, if you average 2 product demos and 3 follow up calls per day, then you’re scheduling 25 separate meetings each week.

According to our data, it takes on average about 15 minutes to schedule a single meeting1; this accounts for the entire tedious process of checking your calendar, sending out an email, finding out your contact isn’t free at the times you had originally offered, rechecking your calendar, sending yet another email, finally settling on a time and place, and sending out a calendar invite.

If you could hand over this task start to finish to someone else, you’d save more than 6 hours every week.

25 meetings per week x 15mins. = 375 mins./60 mins. = 6.25 hrs saved per week

That’s a huge amount of time being wasted, but because it’s spread throughout the day, it can be hard to see the sheer scale of the effort involved.

Right now we’re seeing the emergence of AI that is changing the nature of work. And one of the first areas that it will improve is productivity.

Our AI personal assistant, Amy Ingram, takes over the task of scheduling start to finish. And she does this much like a human assistant would. Once your prospective customer agrees to the demo, for example, you cc amy@x.ai (or her twin brother andrew@x.ai), and she’ll take over the email ping pong. You won’t hear from her again until she sends a calendar invite.

Let’s think of Amy from an opportunity cost perspective. Imagine now if you could take back those 6+ hours a week. If each demo takes 30 minutes, you could do at least 5 more demos per week plus follow up calls (with time to spare!). If you close 10% of your prospects, that’s .5 additional sales each week or 2 more sales per month. You’ve now made an additional $20,000 (ka-ching!), just by removing this one simple, but hugely time consuming, task:

6 hrs / (30 mins. per demo + 15 mins. per call) = 5 demos + 5 follow up calls + 2.25 extra hours

5 demos x 4 weeks = 20 additional demos per month

20 demos x 10% close rate = 2 additional sales = $20,000 per month in additional revenue

Be assured that having Amy schedule your meetings does not impinge on the relationship-building at the heart of sales. She only gets to work once you’ve convinced your prospect to meet (or see the product demo), so you still have to do the work of selling the meeting. Better still, she saves you from possible missteps, since she’s focused on scheduling 24/7. If a warm prospect offers up a time to meet, you’d rather he didn’t wait for your reply. Since scheduling is only one part of your job, these inevitable lags can actually detract from your relationship.

Amy is just one example of a vertical AI agent who does only one thing but it extraordinarily well. We’re witnessing the emergence of a host of vertical AIs.  Scheduling meetings, booking travel, managing your receipts, and repetitive sales tasks are among the plethora of chores we must do everyday; these are most certainly not core to our jobs and often distract us from the high value tasks, like cultivating a lead or sharpening our analysis of our customers.

In the next half decade we’ll see thousands of specialized agents come to market, and startups, rather than the tech behemoths, are likely to build them. You’ll be able to access these vertical agents by invoking them via email or chat or some other convenient channel using natural language (e.g. English).

Once you posit a small army of agents designed to take on individual tasks start to finish, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which part of anyone’s job is to identify which agents to deploy and then to manage them well.

These agents will free you up to focus on the meatiest part of your job (selling!). At the same time, your expertise will soon have to encompass optimizing and integrating a suite of agents that are particularly relevant to your dimension of sales. You could say that, in the not too distant future, you’ll depend on your agents as much as you depend on a good team that has learned how to collaborate well.

While we’re not quite there yet, Amy and AI agents like Cleo (for budgeting) or Legal Robot (for contracts) point the way forward. Each has the potential to give us back hours every week. It’s now possible to imagine a near future in which AI liberates us from most tedious tasks so that we can focus on what we’ve actually been hired to do—the alchemy of turning time into money.

  1. This data point has been derived from our proprietary dataset of hundreds of thousands of meetings and millions of meeting scheduling email dialogues

Dennis-Mortensen_image001-(3)Dennis R. Mortensen is the CEO and Founder of x.ai, whose artificial intelligence driven personal assistant lets people schedule meetings using plain English and nothing more than a CC to amy@x.ai. He’s a pioneer and expert in the analytics, optimization and big data space and has been since its inception – he is also a fully-fledged entrepreneur and successfully delivered a number of company exits. He’s an accredited Associate Analytics Instructor at the University of British Columbia, the Author of Data Driven Insights from Wiley and a frequent speaker on the subject of Analytics and Data. A native of Denmark, Mortensen currently calls New York City his home.