Look Beyond Tech When Evaluating AI/Analytics for Sales & Marketing

If it doesn’t help your sales team’s workflow or isn’t relevant to your business, it’s not for you, says Benj Cohen, founder of Proton.ai.
On July 6, Montreal-based Targray — a materials provider for the solar, battery, biofuels, energy and agriculture sectors — announced the appointment of Sajindra Jayasena as its CIO. 

One of three opportunities to drive sales success in the new year, according to Gartner’s Chief Sales Officer Leadership Vision 2022, is to prioritize tech investments to create an AI-augmented sales function. Gartner confirms 88 percent of CSOs are considering or already in the process of investing sales budgets in new technology to support artificial intelligence and analytics. If you’re one of them, here are things to evaluate when making a tech purchase.

Know the specific use case and the problem you wish to solve

Don’t be fooled by bells and whistles. No matter how impressive the technology is, if it doesn’t help your sales team’s workflow or isn’t relevant to your business, it’s not for you. Review your sales team’s strengths and weaknesses. This analysis can focus your efforts on practical technology that will reduce your sales team’s headaches instead of adding to them.

Sales rep buy-in

Your reps know your sales process the best. Be sure the team that evaluates new technology for sales and marketing includes members of those teams. When members of marketing and sales are part of the procurement process, they are more apt to be champions of the technology. And those internal champions are crucial for successful adoption from sales reps.

Ease of integration

Any new technology needs to play nicely with your existing tech stack. So before investing in technology, send potential vendors a list with the technology your sales team currently uses to ensure that there are simple integrations available that won’t drain your IT resources. Unfortunately, too many projects intended to increase revenue fail to deliver ROI when IT is involved in time-intensive integrations.

Security

Cybercriminals will take advantage of any opportunity. Be sure prospective vendors can articulate the safety and security of their technology. It’s imperative to keep your customers’ – and your – data secure. Don’t assume all technology service providers provide comparable security measures.

Gauge ROI

Most companies want new tech for sales and marketing to increase the size of deals or conversions. Regardless, you need to determine the ROI of the tech purchase not only to get buy-in from the procurement team but to compare the potential effectiveness of tech solutions. Many tech providers will help you build a business case for the technology and understand the revenue you should expect to gain from the investment.

Assess the product road map

Technology is an investment in your future. To better understand how new technology will impact that future, have the provider share their product roadmap with you. You want to ensure there’s a plan to evolve the features and benefits of the tech. An ideal match would be a tech product suite that aligns with your company’s plans.

Implementation strategy

Before signing the contract, you must understand what life will be like after you do. A tech provider’s implementation process and customer success team can be the deciding factor on who you choose when all other factors are equal between contending tech solutions. The implementation team will be critical to your success. You will work closely with them through roll-out, training and troubleshooting as your company onboards the new technology.

With a clear vision of the problem and a critical evaluation of technology that promises to solve it, you can invest in the right solution for your company.

Editor’s note: If you’d like to hear from distributors that have successfully implemented AI into their business, register for this NAW webinar on January 13th at 2pm EST as Benj Cohen discusses what AI looks like when applied to your sales channels with Erik Gershwind, CEO of MSC, and Guy Lacey, Vice President of Salon Services.

Benj Cohen founded Proton.ai to help distributors harness cutting-edge artificial intelligence. He learned about distribution firsthand at Benco Dental, a business started by his great-grandfather. Later, while studying applied math and data science at Harvard University, Cohen saw an opportunity to bring his two worlds together. He’s on a mission to supply distributors with the innovative technology they need to thrive in modern markets. Reach him through proton.ai.

 

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