Sales and service professionals are adapting to a world with more competition and fewer resources. As customers’ expectations continue to rise, pressure is on sellers to become more efficient and engaging.
Zuko Mdwaba, Salesforce area vice-president/Africa executive and South Africa country leader
At the same time, they are grappling with rapid digital transformation and technological advances, including the arrival of widespread generative artificial intelligence (AI), which are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the world of sales and service.
According to Salesforce research, 68% of workers say generative AI will help them better serve customers, and estimate it will save them an average of five hours each week. That said, 73% of employees believe generative AI introduces new security risks, underscoring the need for organisations to leverage generative AI technologies built with trust first.
Developed and implemented with care, these technologies can empower teams to drive new levels of productivity while boosting customer satisfaction.
Business leaders have a responsibility to ensure that their sales teams are equipped with the right resources and support to take advantage of the unprecedented opportunities these technologies present.
Transforming customer experience through personalisation
Sales and service professionals are motivated by building relationships and bringing real-life solutions to customers, not updating databases or drafting emails.
Combining generative AI and real-time data, they can scale service experiences from the contact centre to the field – anticipating customer needs and solving issues faster. This is also giving employees more time to focus on providing informed, tailored service in more complex situations.
Take, for instance, the power of auto-generated wrap-up summaries of service cases and the updating of training materials and knowledge articles. In a field service environment where service agents are visiting customers at their home or place of business, using these technologies to rapidly compile briefings, summarising critical information before they arrive, is transforming the ways teams prepare and support customers.
When it comes to sales, AI is the new user interface (UI). From conducting account research and meeting preparation to customising customer emails, combining AI, data, and CRM is enabling sales teams to complete basic sales functions and update customer knowledge at speed. This, paired with automated call summaries, which will free sales reps from manual note-taking and follow-up actions, will vastly improve productivity and allow sales professionals to spend more time closing deals and positively impacting their company’s bottom line.
Addressing trust and digital skills gaps
Companies are exploring how generative AI could impact every part of the business, including sales, customer service, marketing, commerce, IT, legal, HR, and others. However, enterprises are sometimes hesitant to explore generative AI due to a lack of control over where data is retained when it’s sent to a large language model (LLM). The security and accuracy of data are essential to ensuring agents feel confident in their outputs and are able to use them to engage customers quickly and effectively.
Organisations need a clear and actionable framework for how to use generative AI and to align their generative AI goals with their businesses’ “jobs to be done,” including how generative AI will impact sales, marketing, commerce, service, and IT jobs. Establishing clear guardrails is crucial to building trust between organisations and their customers. The world must be given good reasons to trust these models at every level, from trusting the content they create, to trusting the things they say, to trusting the platforms on which they run.
Addressing the widening AI skills gap is another way to unlock the potential of this technology – ensuring sales and service teams know how to safely use trusted data sources and keeping first-party data secure.
According to Salesforce research, 49% of salespeople and 54% of service professionals don’t know how to safely use generative AI at work.
Once teams are leveraging Generative AI technology that’s grounded in trust, they can realise the transformational power of AI, data and CRM to transform customer relationships and the way work gets done.