A Guide for Progressive Technology Solutions Providers

When I first delved into the world of office equipment sales over 20 years ago, it was all about who had the best copiers, the most reliable fax machines, or the most cost-effective toner. Then we figured out how to remotely manage and monitor printers to better supply and bill for them through managed print and cost-per-page programs, and that changed the game forever. Or so we thought. Pages started declining due to digital workflows, oh, and let’s not forget about a little thing called the pandemic that shut us down for a year or so. Fun times. 

Clearly we survived all that, but we didn’t get out without having to adapt and change. Fast forward to today, and we’re in a whole new game – evolving from office equipment dealers into technology solutions providers, a shift driven by ever-evolving customer needs and declining pages. The question we all have to ask ourselves is, how do we make this transformation happen more efficiently and at speed and make it easier for our existing sales teams to sell all these new things?  We are on the cusp of a transformative journey where efficiency, personalization, and strategic insight redefine how we sell and how our businesses grow — at least the more progressive among us; those willing to embrace generative AI.

2024 will be AI’s breakout year for progressive businesses

Could AI have real impact on how we do business or is this new love affair with generative AI simply a passing fad? McKinsey’s 2023 survey reveals that organizations where at least 20% of EBIT in 2022 was due to AI use (referred to as AI high performers) are significantly ahead in using generative AI. That seems pretty real to me, real in dollars and cents.

For those of us in the office equipment channel, we understand just how important it is to keep margins high and costs as low as possible, especially as we embrace lower margin offerings like managed IT.  Those that embraced this new offering learned the hard way that it was tough to sell and tough to make money at. We learned that we need to use everything in our toolkit to increase the likelihood of profitability in any of the new and unfamiliar offerings. AI can have a huge impact and shorten cycles on sales success. What you’re about to read will show you how.

Personalized customer outreach at scale

Remember when personalization in sales meant addressing a customer by their first name? My, how things have changed. Sales reps can now update their email communications to prospective customers by asking web-enabled GPTs like ChatGPT to hyper-tailor messaging.  Let’s dive into how this can be done and what it really means:

1. Understanding the prospect: Imagine a sales rep preparing to reach out to a potential customer. The first step is understanding the prospect’s needs, industry, and pain points. Here’s where AI comes into play. By inputting information about the prospect into an AI tool like ChatGPT, the rep can get insights or even draft initial communication that resonates with the prospect’s specific context. This isn’t about generic templates anymore; it’s about tailored messages that hit the mark. This can be done simply by entering a company URL into a chat window. The amount of time saved from not having to Google everything, and the likelihood that sales professionals will actually do it, are dramatically improved. 

2. Hyper-personalization: Now, let’s talk about hyper-personalization. By integrating AI tools with CRM systems, sales reps can pull in specific data about a prospect’s past interactions, preferences, and behavior. This data, when fed into an AI model, enables the creation of highly personalized emails. We’re talking about emails that reference a prospect’s recent business achievements, comment on industry-specific challenges, or even suggest solutions based on the prospect’s unique business environment.

3. Consistency and scalability: One of the challenges in sales communications has always been maintaining consistency and personalization at scale. With AI, this becomes a breeze. Sales reps can use these AI tools to generate multiple personalized emails in the time it would take to write just one manually. This ensures that each prospect feels like they’re receiving a one-on-one conversation, even though the process is highly scalable.

4. Testing and learning: The beauty of AI in sales outreach is its ability to learn and adapt. Imagine sending out different versions of an email, each tailored to a specific segment of your prospect list. AI tools can then analyze the response rates, engagement levels, and even the tone of the replies to learn what works best. This means your outreach strategy is constantly evolving and improving, based on real-time feedback.

Transformative sales training with AI

Sales training with AI is like giving your reps a personal trainer for their sales skills, and this sales trainer doesn’t sleep or get grumpy or distracted. AI tools simulate real-life scenarios, providing a dynamic, interactive training ground. This doesn’t just polish their sales techniques; it injects a dose of confidence and proficiency into their selling arsenal, particularly when it comes to diverse technology solutions. Let’s break down how AI transforms sales training:

1. Real-life scenario simulations: Think of AI as a sophisticated role-playing partner. It can create and simulate diverse real-life sales scenarios. Whether it’s handling objections, pitching products, or managing difficult conversations, AI tools offer a safe and realistic environment for reps to practice and refine their skills. This kind of hands-on experience is invaluable, especially when preparing for the unpredictable nature of sales interactions.

2. Interactive training ground: The interactive nature of AI in training means that it’s not just a one-way street. Sales reps receive immediate feedback on their performance. AI analyzes their responses and tone to provide constructive feedback. This feedback is tailored specifically to each rep, allowing them to understand and work on their individual areas of improvement.

3. Polishing sales techniques: AI-driven training helps reps master the nuances of effective selling. From crafting compelling narratives to mastering the art of persuasion, AI tools can guide reps through various techniques, offering tips and corrections along the way. This kind of targeted training helps in fine-tuning their approach, ensuring they’re not just going through the motions, but actually enhancing their sales craft.

4. Boosting confidence and proficiency: Confidence comes from competence, and AI training tools are excellent at building both. By repeatedly practicing and succeeding in simulated scenarios, reps build the confidence they need for real-world interactions. This confidence, combined with the proficiency gained from AI-guided training, makes them formidable in any sales situation.

5. Adaptability to diverse technology solutions: In today’s tech-driven sales landscape, understanding and selling diverse technology solutions is crucial. AI training can incorporate the latest trends, product updates, and technology nuances into its curriculum. This ensures that sales reps are not only adept at traditional sales techniques but are also fluent in the language and intricacies of modern tech solutions.

6. Continuous learning and adaptation: The AI in sales training isn’t static. It learns from each interaction, adapting to provide more relevant and challenging scenarios. This means that as your sales reps grow, so does the complexity and relevance of their training. It’s a continuous loop of improvement, ensuring that the training never becomes outdated or irrelevant.

This can’t be real though, right? Think again. At last month’s ECS conference, we saw the launch of an AI tool that does everything we talked about above.

AI-powered call summaries and CRM updates

The capability of AI to summarize calls and automatically input this information into a CRM system is a game-changer for sales efficiency. Let’s delve into this further, focusing on how AI, as seen in tools like TimeOS, streamlines this process:

1. Automatic call transcription and summarization: Imagine a sales rep ending a call with a client. In a traditional setting, they would spend additional time summarizing the call and manually entering this into the CRM. However, with AI tools like TimeOS, the call is automatically transcribed in real time. But it doesn’t stop there. The AI also summarizes the key points of the conversation, identifying critical details such as customer needs, concerns, specific interests, and potential objections. This level of detail ensures that important information isn’t lost or overlooked.

2. Seamless CRM integration: The beauty of this AI technology is its ability to seamlessly integrate these summaries directly into the CRM. This integration happens almost instantaneously, without the need for manual data entry. The sales rep can immediately access this information in the CRM, where it’s organized and readily available for future reference. This integration ensures that the CRM remains a dynamic, up-to-date repository of customer interactions.

3. Time efficiency and focus on selling: By automating the transcription and CRM entry process, AI tools can save a significant amount of time for sales reps. This time saved translates directly into more time available for selling. Sales reps can quickly move on to their next call or follow-up activity instead of getting bogged down with administrative tasks. The less time they spend on data entry, the more time they have to engage with clients, nurture leads, and close deals.

4. Enhanced customer engagement: With detailed call summaries at their fingertips, sales reps can better prepare for follow-up interactions. They have a clear record of what was discussed, allowing them to tailor their communication to address specific points raised in previous conversations. This level of personalized engagement is likely to resonate more with clients, fostering stronger relationships and trust.

These are just a few examples of how sales best practices will be revolutionized in 2024, for those that embrace the AI world in which we now live. A comprehensive and strategic approach can dramatically improve how your business will sell and win in 2024 and beyond. 

west mcdonald

West McDonald is the founder of GoWest.ai, a firm respected for its work in the realm of artificial intelligence and business strategy. His journey in the AI industry is marked by a  passion for innovation and a commitment to equipping businesses with the latest in generative AI technologies with an eye on workflow and customer experience. Through GoWest.ai, West and his team specialize in crafting bespoke AI strategies, ensuring companies are not just prepared for the future, but actively shaping it.