A 2015 study on sales productivity found that the typical salesperson spends 20% of their time on administrative tasks.
That’s 20% of a sales rep’s time that could be spent having one-to-one-conversations and building relationships with potential customers (a.k.a. “selling”), but is instead being squandered on tedious, repetitive tasks like reporting and updating fields in Salesforce.
Don’t get me wrong: Those administrative sales tasks are hugely important. The issue is that your sales reps (who are human beings, I’m assuming) aren’t as well-suited to doing those types of tasks as intelligent bots are.
A New Way to Think About Bots
During the early days of artificial intelligence, researchers were focused on developing machines that could replicate human intelligence (re: the Turing test). And for the past several decades, a fear of machines someday reaching a human-level of intelligence — and then promptly wreaking havoc — has been embedded in our culture. (Just think about movies/shows like The Matrix, Terminator, West World, etc.)
But here’s the thing:
A more modern camp of AI researchers doesn’t think about AI in terms bots vs. humans at all.
Instead, they define AI as technology that can solve problems creatively and maximize success toward achieving some goal.
Once you start viewing intelligent bots through that lens, it becomes clear that bots aren’t here to put sales reps out of a job, they’re here to help.
The Evolving Role of the Sales Rep
According to research from the McKinsey Global Institute (published in HBR), 40% of the time traditionally spent on sales activities can now be automated using intelligent sales tools.
But as journalist Alex Hillsberg wrote in an article for Sales Hacker:
Offloading 40% of work doesn’t make you, the rep, less important. Just more efficient.
By removing the tedious tasks from the equation, bots free up time for the sales reps so those reps can focus on doing the things that humans are good at — like answering complex product questions, and understanding the nuances of human emotion.
So many new deals hinge on that final, human-to-human interaction between a sales rep and a potential customer.
At Drift, we think that’s where sales reps should be investing their time.
Let bots focus on making the introductions and documenting everything (e.g. by asking website leads qualifying questions, capturing their email addresses, and then routing the best leads to a sales rep’s calendar). That way reps can focus 100% on closing the deal.
But how do you get sales reps to actually use bots?
Look, we all know how hard it is to convince anyone to try something new. But convincing a sales rep — who’s laser-focused on hitting their number — to deviate from their tried-and-true methods in order to experiment with chatbots?
Yeah, that sounds pretty much impossible.
The good news? Sales reps don’t even have to use chatbots to reap the benefits.
With today’s technology, a single marketer can use chatbots to book sales meetings for multiple sales reps.
All a sales rep is on the hook for is connecting their calendar. After that, sales reps never have to chat with anyone or do anything — apart from watch meetings “magically” appear on their calendars.
Thanks to intelligent chatbots, not only are salespeople able to focus on being more human, but they’re also able to achieve tighter sales and marketing alignment.
Running the traditional sales and marketing playbook, there were constant arguments over lead quality and response times.
Bots, which are able to capture and qualify leads around the clock, 24/7, even when everyone is asleep, have begun to close the sales vs. marketing divide.