Artificial intelligence can bring marketing and sales closer together – and improve the buyer experience

Artificial intelligence can bring marketing and sales closer together – and improve the buyer experience
Jim Preston is director of sales at Showpad.

B2B buyers’ purchasing criteria are changing and their expectations are now higher than ever before. As the B2B sales cycle gets longer and more complex, sales and marketing need to be more strategic in how they approach, persuade and nurture their prospects and customers. Whilst having a great product at the right price point is certainly important, it doesn’t guarantee success and today’s buyers are looking for more than just a one-stop-shop sales pitch.

A recent study found that 81 percent of B2B buyers now make purchase decisions based on buying experience, rather than product or price. These modern buyers expect a personalised experience with relevant content throughout the purchase journey, regardless of whether they’re doing their own research or engaging with a salesperson. But in most cases, organisations are missing the mark, using static, irrelevant presentations that aren’t engaging their buyers – and they’re losing deals because of it.

With buying becoming increasingly complex, it’s even more challenging to determine what content will help close more deals. Relying on personal selling experience or informal, tribal knowledge is no longer an effective strategy. Instead, organisations need to think outside of the box and adopt new technologies as part of a sales enablement strategy to better identify and replicate what content works for top performers.

Making content relevant

For a great buyer experience, it’s content that is key.  According to research from SiriusDecisions, on average, salespeople use more than 17 pieces of content to enable the selling process. As such, organisations are investing more and more in developing content for all stages of the buyer journey.

As a result, sales teams have access to large, perhaps even overwhelming, libraries of content to help them move deals forward. However, in most cases, it’s just the same assets that are used time and time again – simply because they’re familiar with the content.

While a salesperson’s “tried and tested” content may be relevant to some buyers, it’ll fall flat with others. After all, there are a variety of factors that determine whether a given piece of content will resonate with a given stakeholder, including job title, organisation size, industry, geographic location, and deal stage, to name but a few. With so many factors to consider, it’s challenging for a salesperson to determine what content will make or break a deal. This is where artificial intelligence can make it a whole lot easier.

Rather than a salesperson depending on their own past experience, AI can provide new recommendations for content that has proven to be successful in similar situations. For example, say a salesperson is working with a senior marketing manager at a medium-sized medical device company based in Greater London. Fuelled by data, AI tools will recommend a piece of content to the seller that has previously generated positive outcomes in similar selling situations. Using these recommendations, the salesperson can deliver content that’s relevant to a specific stakeholder’s unique needs and interests.  

With great data, comes great power  

As shown, AI can be a powerful component of a strong sales enablement strategy. It can help to deliver more relevant, personalised buyer experiences, leading to the closure of more deals. But AI is only as powerful as the data it’s built on. An all-too-common trap many organisations fall into is focusing solely on the algorithms behind their AI – and neglecting the importance of building the data that fuels it. After all, an organisation can develop airtight algorithms, but without the data to drive it, these algorithms are meaningless.  

In order to build successful AI tools, companies need to collect a lot of data to understand how sellers interact with buyers and how both buyers and sellers interact with content. The good news is, AI gets smarter and more powerful with time. As companies accumulate more and more data on seller interactions and buyers’ feedback, content recommendations become even more relevant and personalised.

No matter where they are in their purchasing journey, sales and marketing need to be working together giving buyers what they want – engaging, relevant content and experiences. With artificial intelligence tools they are able to deliver those content-driven experiences that are proven to resonate with buyers, pushing them further down the sales and ultimately, most importantly, closing the deal. 

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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