How AI can fine tune your sales pitches

Lesley Ronaldson, EMEA Senior Director at Gong, says AI can observe customer interactions and suggest improvements
Lesley Ronaldson
salesperson stock image

Sales reps get a bad rap. Pre-existing stereotypes abound. Salespeople are bullish, won’t take no for an answer, and are only concerned about meeting their targets and closing the deal. More than ever, buyers are engaging with sales on their terms, often much later in the buyer's journey, and they expect a different experience.

For this reason, 54% of enterprise sales professionals don’t want to admit that they work in sales. Gong data shows that 40% of sales reps are ashamed because they worry people will assume they only care about their commission, whereas others are concerned about the personality traits with which they’d be associated. Among these are untrustworthy and pushy, manipulative, and only focused on making their commission. 

Don’t trust the rumours

The reality of modern sales is that aggressive salespeople are often unsuccessful at their work. Empathy goes a long way; sales teams that work to understand not only what their buyers want, but their long-term goals and what’s preventing the customer from reaching them, are most successful. Attentiveness is key.

Gong’s research found that the ideal speaking-to-listening ratio for sales professionals with prospects in a pitch is 43:57, respectively. This means that while we associate a sales rep with steamrolling over the conversation to get their pitch across, they actually need to spend more time listening  to be successful . They use this time to hear the buyers’ needs and empathise with them, before trying to wrap up the solution.

The research finds that sales reps are more successful when using responsive language, such as ‘imagine’ or ‘that means’, which offers an explanation behind a pitch. This shows that listening and responding to the buyer’s circumstances and then painting a picture of how their solution could help, yields better results than just repeating a sales pitch verbatim. This not only makes the interaction more conversational, but it actually requires the product to be an authentic solution for the need.

Some of the most effective salespeople use words such as problem, solution, challenge and opportunity 36% more than others. These pain and gain words show an understanding that the sales reps have of the problem their buyers are facing first-hand, and the challenge their product seeks to solve.

All of this shows that salespeople are now moving toward consultancy. It’s increasingly important to know what they’re selling back-to-front and to combine this with real expertise on the challenge their buyer is trying to solve; using their knowledge of both is what drives successful sales. However, this doesn’t come without the right training and technology to upskill sales teams.

Follow through with your sales talent

Companies can train their salespeople to use these techniques and reach the real needs of their customers by leveraging artificial intelligence. The common fear that AI could replace salespeople isn’t taking into account that AI doesn’t yet have human thought or emotion. Therefore, we need to use AI’s data capabilities to empower and train human salespeople, not replace them.

AI can be used to collect targets and do insightful research in an efficient and automated way. AI can advance sales processes and data shows that 28% of companies in the UK are already using AI to boost sales. Not only can machine data identify new potential customers, but it can listen to sales pitching and understand what it is that makes customers respond well to sales calls. AI and machine learning technology can then be used to augment what makes salespeople successful.

The tech will free up reps to focus on building connections, identifying problems, and understanding the full capacity of the problem that needs to be solved. This not only allows sales teams to focus on the skills they were trained for, time generally spent on identifying targets and sifting through vast amounts of data, but it will also work to eliminate pointless and draining calls.

Leveraging AI to analyse customer interactions at every stage will allow salespeople to upskill their tactics and rebuild their sales strategies to fit the modern world. AI can help them quickly find and eliminate prospective customers based on previous interactions, thus saving time. Rather than replacing a sales rep, using generative AI to help reps prioritise deals and produce insights and outcomes from each buyer-seller interaction will yield more efficiency and a better win rate.

To get answers and close deals, a business must invest in their technology and their people, using one to empower the other. Salespeople cannot be replaced by existing AI, but can use technology to steer clear of the stereotypes they fear

Written by
Lesley Ronaldson
Written by
July 31, 2023