Why 2018 is the year of the SDR


It’s your time to shine! We’re predicting that 2018 will be the year of the sales development representative. And no, that’s not based on your horoscope sign.

Why now, you ask? Because 2018 has also been dubbed the year of sales AI! Now, while most people will refer to this as Artificial Intelligence, we prefer Augmented Intelligence. The key difference between the two terms is that augmented tools are made by humans to help humans rather than to replace them. There are now more sales AI tools, which can help you work better and smarter. In other words, there are finally tools made just for you that are expected to make you more productive in the coming year than ever before.

First, let’s explore how we got to this point.

Trends of 2017

In 2017, we saw AI explode into everyday life and take on a more accepted role. Rather than leaving AI for the science and robotics geniuses, people brought them into their homes with Alexa and Google Home. We saw further advancements in driverless cars and navigation technology. And we’ve seen more small features in the services we use every day, like the way Uber and Lyft determine the cost of your ride or how your Gmail is able to automatically categorize your email.

For sales in 2017, we saw that it was the year of tools in that managers, sales operations and sales reps were looking at new technology that allowed them to sell smarter. Which meant turning to CRM systems that could help the sales reps collect data on their various accounts. The goal of this process shift was to provide a bigger, holistic view of the customer pipeline and to put customer relationships at the forefront of the sales process. However, it takes a huge amount of time to input all of that data into a CRM, so customers still weren’t getting the white glove treatment. A bit counter-productive, right?

New Sales AI Technologies Help SDRs Perform More Effectively

Fast forward to 2018.

There are boring tasks that come with any job. The less satisfying but still necessary duties that can eat up several hours of your workday. These duties have been called “organizational drag” and the Harvard Business Review says it costs the US $3 trillion every year.

There are now sales solutions available that can automate data entry, fill in missing data, and even suggest new leads based on the data already in your CRM. Each week, you spend hours logging your activities into Salesforce so both you and your manager can keep track of your clients and sales expectations.

Salesforce estimates that 68 percent of a salesperson’s time is spent doing tasks other than selling, the main one being data entry. You know you’re more than a data entry zombie, so why do you spend so much time doing just that? AI brings your passion for sales back to life.

By taking advantage of these new technologies, you can enjoy your job again while being even more productive, since these new tools automatically take care of your busy work. And with all that new-found time you can make more calls, which can lead to more sales! I’m sure that will impress your manager.

We know what you’re thinking. Will sales AI replace the sales rep all together? No need to worry about that. Salespeople are great at what they do because they build relationships and make connections. In fact, 50 percent of salespeople say it’s their favorite part of their job (besides closing, of course). The human connection is something AI could never replace. But it can take over the tasks you don’t want to do, to let you shine at what you do best.

AI Makes Your Sales Process More Efficient

Having a sales AI assistant simplifies and improves your daily workflow. These AI assistants are pretty talented; they can record and log the work you’ve done by collecting information from your emails and CRM quicker and with less error than a human, and suggests additional valuable information you may be missing. Saving you hours of research time if you’d have done it all yourself.

As we mentioned, sales people love building relationships. These AI sales tools help you stay focused on doing just that. They can even propose other potential customers based on the connections you’ve already made.

And these AI solutions are just that: solutions. They automate the sales process in multiple ways to help you optimize your workday. If you’re using something that handles scheduling, that’s just one part of the game. Think about what other areas you can automate.

The technology should also be transparent so you understand what is going on behind the Wizard of Oz curtain (even if you don’t really care). It’s helpful to know you can always review and approve any changes before they are made and that nothing will be done without our permission.

No Need for Manager Buy-In

One of the biggest struggles with implementing these incredible sales AI tools is getting your managers and the rest of your sales team to buy-in. About 49 percent of companies see stakeholder buy-in as a major obstacle when trying to implement AI tools. But some of these tools purposefully have a low-barrier to entry. Meaning, there is a low-cost point and there is no hardware or software that needs to be installed. Instead, the goal is to help the individual sales rep without them needing to haggle with their boss or IT.

Augmented intelligence sales automation solutions are easily available to you, affordable, and have little learning curve. These tools don’t require you to invest much time or money in them, allowing them to easily fit into your schedule and your budget rather than that of your management team.

Tools you can use

There are several tools out there that can help you accomplish all these tasks using the power of automation. Using powerful artificial intelligence algorithms these tools can take information from your CRM, customer interactions via email, as well as company proprietary databases to identify and automate your sales processes.

These tools can update relevant Salesforce records, adds new leads, contacts and accounts, and conduct research to provide important missing prospect information.

Safety is always a big concern, and many of these products strongly encrypt their data, meaning no human has access to it, only algorithms.

So what are you waiting for? Make 2018 YOUR year!

By Jessica Munday

Content Marketing Specialist at Automation Hero, writing about technology, sales, AI and the future of business!

Published Jul 23, 2018

Posted in Innovation

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